TOKYO — What’s it like to dupe lonely Japanese guys and get paid to do it? Over the coming weeks, people across Japan will be heading out to the country’s parks and gardens to appreciate the cherry blossoms, which in Japanese are called “sakura.” However, the word sakura also has a second meaning in Japanese, one which refers to something not nearly so welcome: a ringer or imposter.This second meaning of sakura originally referred to audience members at kabuki performances who would cheer wildly when an actor took the stage…because they were being paid by the performer or venue owners to do so in order to amp up the rest of the crowd.

Instead, they say things like “data entry” and “sending company emails.

I saw an ad, sent in an application, and they hired me. Asakura: Surprisingly, they’re just ordinary people. The average age is young, with most in their mid-20s or younger.

When I was working as a sakura, one of my supervisors was actually still in college. Asakura: It’s usually about 1,000 to 1,200 an hour. For example, during training, of course your supervisor checks the emails you’re sending to clients very closely.

The job doesn’t require any physical labor, but I don’t think the pay actually accounts for the psychological strain of having to continuously lie to so many people. I was pretending to be a woman and putting everything I could think of into my emails to try to make guys attracted to me, but the supervisor training me was a young woman, and I didn’t like having her read what I’d written.

You also have a minimum number of emails you have to send each hour, and it’s a tough quota to meet.

The most effective method of sending emails was to time it so that you’d agree to meet with a client around the time his membership with the site was about to run out, so that’d he’d renew it.

But then, on the day you were supposed to meet, you’d have to think up some excuse as to why you couldn’t make it to the date…It’s tiring having to think up lies simultaneously for several different clients, all the while having your email log checked by your supervisors. Asakura: For me, the best part was the flexible hours.

Many male sakura also pretend to be single women, as in the case of one Japanese dating site that had 2.7 million accounts, of which only one belonged to an actual female.

We recently sat down with one ex-sakura, who we’ll call Mr Asakura.