Since Japanese-born Ishii Yuichi was “reunited” with his daughter eight years ago, he’s taken her on a shopping trip once a month. The pair often go out to dinner together, and they’ve taken holidays to Disneyland.
Yuichi is a good father – never angry, never violent. He rarely raises his voice. He’s told his daughter he wishes he could see her more often, but his commitments to his new family prevent it. She’s told him she loves him anyway.
But Yuichi is not the father of his “daughter”, nor even a relative. He keeps his temper because he was instructed to on an order form, and he earns 5,000 yen, or $50, for every hour he spends with her.
Yuichi runs Family Romance, a company that hires actors out to clients to perform roles in their personal lives: friends, spouses, children, and even parents. He’s been hired by the mother of his “daughter” to fill the hole left by an estranged and violent ex, and he plans to continue the role indefinitely.
In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Yuichi revealed how he fell into the almost decade-long deception.
“The girl was bullied because she didn’t have a dad, so the mother rented me,” he told The Atlantic. “I’ve acted as the girl’s father ever since. I am the only real father that she knows.”
In order to make the role more realistic, Yuichi takes the name of the girl’s absent father in her presence. He’s never actually been a father, so he watched a lot of Hollywood movies about fathers, and “cultivated his personality” accordingly.
Asked what would happen if his “daughter” ever found out the truth, he admits: