Japan travel firm's rent-a-college-beauty tour fails to take off

You would have been able to fly with one of these women to any part of the world.
PHOTO: H.I.S. Website

The next time you take a trip, why not bring along a new kind of in-flight entertainment with you - your very own Japanese college girl.

On Wednesday (May 11), Japanese travel provider Highest International Standards (H.I.S.) launched a highly controversial travel promotion targeted specially at men.

Customers who booked the plan would be able to travel with a student featured in a pictorial book called 'Todai Bijo Zukan', which contains photographs of 'beauties of Tokyo University'.

Those interested would have had to choose from a group of five selected young women from the university.

Unfortunately, the programme barely lasted one day.

After the launch, several people spoke out against it - calling it sexist and unbecoming of the school to be supporting such a thing.

In response, H.I.S. explained that it was not their original intention to promote the students as tools for companionship, but as tour guides with both brains and beauty.

Being educated, these girls would be able to guide the customers and provide useful tips while they're on the trip.

However, the choice to use only female guides is what led the programme to its downfall, and the H.I.S. scrapped the programme on the very same day it was made public.

A statement on the programme's website read: "We have received many comments regarding a plan our company announced on May 11. We would like to deeply apologise for the discomfort caused by certain portions of the plan. We have taken the complaints to heart, and have cancelled the Todai Bijo Zukan University Student Will Sit Next to You for a Fun Flight to Your Destination Plan."

"Once again, we offer our sincere apologies."

The idea of renting a human being is not new in Japan, just this week AsiaOne reported on a unique 'uncle-renting service' targeted at young Japanese women.

Ossan (middle-aged men in Japanese) rentals are popular, and many of the 'ossan' on rent say they enjoy giving advice to young women in need of wise teachings. So if you're taking a trip to Japan anytime soon, why not book yourself an ossan to show you around town?

He'll gladly be your personal tour guide for a small sum of $12 and hour.

mldas@sph.com.sg