In Japan, depending on where you live, owning a car can be more of a burden than a convenience. Having a car in the city typically means the additional cost of a parking space, and conveniently and speedy public transportation often discourages many from purchasing an automobile. This has created a receptive market for car sharing services, which offer an affordable alternative for those who simply want access to a car for short periods of time--such as used for picking up one's children or running errands--for a matter of a few hundred yen.

But it seems the convenient service is actually being used for a lot of other purposes--none of which involve driving. NHK reports that a number of car sharing services such as Orix have noticed their rented cars being paid for but with no additional mileage fees. Investigating the reasons on social media and through customer surveys, they found telling responses--one of which said "When I got bullied at my company, I ran out to the nearest car share vehicle and used it to cry."

Times Car Plus also reported the same. Inquiring as to the use of their service by customers, they received typical responses such as "I use it for picking up kids" or "I use it when my train has stopped", but also "I don't use it to drive." Via social media outreach they received answers such as:

As a mother whose baby will not stop crying, I sit in the car with my child (as to not disturb other family/neighbors).

I use it to sleep when I've missed my last train.

I use it to cool off my head after a quarrel with my significant other.

Mobile company NTT Docomo, which handles many car sharing reservations and settlements, surveyed 400 customers in the Tokyo area about car sharing usage. 50 of those surveyed say they use it for purposes other than driving, including "karaoke", "napping", "training my facial muscles to be smaller" (having a "small face" in Japan is a sign of physical attractiveness), "reading", and "practicing rapping". An additional 40% responded that they had experience using a car sharing service for reasons other than driving before.

NTT Docomo hypothesized that the ability to use a car sharing service for a limited time as opposed to longer term rental services results in a widening of uses for the service, offering personal space, a reprieve from oppressive work and social obligations, and an opportunity to do things in private.

By - Big Neko.