Alex Massie

Wedding Crashers in Japan

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I don't pretend to understand Japan at all, but while this may seem rather funny, it's surely also terribly melancholy:

Japanese couples, too busy for a normal social life, are increasingly turning to actors to play their friends on the most important days of their lives.

Several agencies have sprung up offering actors to attend weddings or even funerals...

Agencies such as Hagemashi Tai - which means "I want to cheer you up" - charge around £100 for each "guest". Other services such as giving a speech in praise of a bride or the groom cost extra.

Increasingly busy and put upon, many Japanese surround themselves with only a very small circle of friends...

When they marry, however, they are under pressure to match the number of their new partner's wedding guests.

Office Agents, the largest provider of pretend friends, makes sure that its employees have done their homework and know all about the bride or groom before the wedding.

Hiroshi Mizutani, the company's founder, said the fake friends he provides must look happy, be well dressed and look like people with good jobs. Two things: There are markets in everything of course. And this is a terribly short report. I'd like to know how this really works! Are "real" friends and family at weddings (and funerals!) impressed by these smart, happy, previously-unencountered "friends"? Do some of the actors subsequently become real friends with the couple whose wedding they're attending or is mixiing business with pleasure in this way strictly forbidden? (Are they allowed to sleep with the bridesmaids?)  Do these businesses rely on word-of-mouth to generate extra work? (In other words, do clients tell their real friends that they've used the service?) Presumably "resting" actors find this sort of work more fulfilling than waitressing? There must be cases of "fake" guests meeting their own future spouses at these weddings, right?

So many questions! Sure, there might not be space for a long report in the print edition of the Telegraph, but space is unlimited online. Tell us more!

[Hat-tip: Foreign Policy]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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