There are many ways to get your coworkers to bond. You can all commiserate awkwardly in the kitchen over apple juice and dry cookies. You can sit in a focus group, ostensibly to brainstorm future projects, but also to become better acquainted with your peers. Or you can do what many Japanese companies are starting to do: hire professionals to make your staff gutturally sob, and then allow a “handsome weeping boy” to wipe those tears away.
No, we’re not high on ketamine. Yes, this is a thing.
According to the BBC, the session goes a little something like this: About ten people congregate in a conference room to watch a series of extremely maudlin film clips about, say, a deaf man’s daughter suddenly struck ill and rushed to hospital. This is a real example: the scene ends with the man unable to pass reception since he can’t speak up and say he’s her father. So he weeps and weeps and weeps and his daughter dies alone, alone, alone…
Then, to kick it up a notch, a film about a dying dog begins. As do the sobs. And the sniffles. And the tears pouring down everyone’s aghast faces.
Then the man who’s been curating the films begins to wander around the conference room with a gigantic handkerchief, with which he wipes away all the tears. With great dignity, he folds up the used portions of the hankie so that everyone in the room gets a dry patch with which to wipe away their worries.
The man’s name is Ryusei. As the article explains, he has “model good looks” and takes his job as professional tear-wiper extremely seriously. His official job title is ikemeso danshi, which translates to “handsome weeping boy.”
“Japanese are not used to crying in front of people,” he tells the BBC. “But once you cry in front of others, the environment will change, particularly for a business.”
Companies get to choose from a wwide selection of these “handsome weeping boys.” There’s a gymnast. A funeral director. A shoe shiner. A trained dentist. Ryusei’s beat is “good-looking-but-slightly-older weeping boy,” see. He’s close to 40; most HWBs are in their 20s.
A man named Hiroki Terai is the entrepreneur behind the sessions, who tells the BBC he’s “always been interested in the hidden sagas of human beings.”
Of course, you could all just meet in the kitchen for apple juice, like we said earlier.
To learn more about these mysterious “handsome weeping boys,” we recommend reading the original article in its entirely. Grab a hankie, though.