It’s hard to believe that anyone could survive on just 45 cents a day, especially if they don’t even have a place to sleep, but Japanese comedian Kotani Makoto has been doing it for a while now, and claims that he’s happier and more successful than ever before.
But it’s not just that Kotani Makoto is doing better than ever on ¥50 (¢45) a day that’s intriguing, but also how he gets that money. Four years ago, soon after moving to Tokyo to make it as a solo comedian, Makoto found himself unable to afford his own place, so he moved in with a more established comedian called King Kong Nishino, for a reasonable ¥40,000 (~$400 USD) monthly rent. However, Nishino could only put up with his new roommate’s sloppy and messy lifestyle for a couple of months, after which he just shook his head and told him “”Starting today, you should become homeless. Your life will definitely be better that way.” Nishino took the advice to heart and claims it changed his life for the better.
The aspiring comedian became “Homeless Kotani” and actually ended up sleeping on the street for a time, which was tough. He applied for some part-time jobs so he could support himself, but the interviews didn’t go very well. Then, the same man who advised him to become homeless laid down more wisdom for Kotani – he told him he should rent himself out to total strangers, for ¥50 a month. He tried it, and used his cellphone to document the experiences on Twitter, which helped him find new clients, and, in the long run, become a minor online celebrity.
At first Kotani himself was a little skeptical that he could make a living on just ¥50 a day, but after giving it a try, he noticed that people felt guilty about renting him for such a low price, and do all kinds of things for him. The comedian would hit it off with his clients, maybe do them a small favor, and they wanted to pay him back in some way. So they would buy him food, clothes and even invite him to crash at their place for a night or two. And if he somehow didn’t find a place to sleep, all he had to do was ask his social media fans.
“I have this ‘worldwide family’ now,” Kotani Makoto recently told Tofugu. “Either I’d become friends with someone who rented me and at the end of the evening they’d offer to let me stay at their place, or I’d ask on social media and someone would offer. I’d be like: ‘Is there anyone who can let me stay over tonight?’ There are so many good people in the world.”
Homeless people all around the world are shunned, ignored and sometimes even humiliated, but that hasn’t been Kotani Makoto’s experience at all. He has thousands of adoring fans on Twitter, and his clients are more than willing to pay for his every expense. And I do mean EVERY expense, from basic needs like transportation and meals, to clothes and even his mobile phone plan. “They just offered to pay them for me, all I could do was thank them for their offers,” Kotani says.
He now has designer friends who make funny clothes that match his personality, and some of his fans just send him stuff they think he would look good in. Someone even bought him a pocket WiFi so the comedian could keep in touch with his fans.
But Kotani isn’t all about taking from his clients and fans, they pay him ¥50 so he does things for them as well. Anything, really, as long as it is within his power and doesn’t involve causing trouble for somebody else. Some of his clients just need someone to hang out with, others need him to stand in for them, like this man who asked him to stand in line for a pair of expensive sneakers, and a few actually require him to do menial jobs like cleaning.
“One time, I was rented to be a nude sketch model,” Kotani told Tofugu. “Usually, professional nude models are muscular people doing poses. In my case, I made poses that I was told to do, and my poses were quite relaxed ones. It was kind of embarrassing, though. Eventually I was just asked to lie down naked, so I didn’t have to do any tough poses. But I was so embarrassed that I ended up talking the whole time. Later there was an exhibition of the drawings, so I went to that too. The nude drawings of me were in a cafe for about a week.”
“Then, one day a random stranger came up to me. It turned out he was someone from the exhibition. This person knew that I didn’t have a home, and they offered to let me stay the night. So if you get naked sometimes people will let you stay over.”
Homeless Kotani says that he has been rented over 1,000 times in the last four years, with many of his clients placing recurrent orders, just so that they could hang out with him. He calls them and his fans the “Kotani family”. His schedule is so busy these days that people have to reserve a day with him over a month in advance.
Kotani Makoto says he has never been happier, more successful or better fed than since he decided to become homeless and rent himself for a living. He is probably the happiest homeless person in the world today.