Photo/IllutrationOne scene of a “family” experience at the model house (Provided by Regard)

When the man opened the front door of the house, with a plastic bag containing paper plates in hand, he was greeted warmly by his waiting “family.”

“Daddy, you came home! Did you buy the things Mom asked for?” his young “daughter” asked.

His “wife” poked her head out of a window in a stairwell on the second floor and said, “Can you put our shoes away?”

He organized the family's shoes in the closet with his 7-year-old daughter.

However, his daughter and wife were not his real family.

They were actors playing a scenario of preparing for a home party with his friend’s family.

The model house tours, which come complete with a family played by an actress as a wife and a child actor for the daughter, were held for men in Tokyo’s Koganei in November.

The custom-home construction firm Regard, based in Tokyo’s Kokubunji, organized the tour. It constructs about 50 buildings mainly around the Tama area in western Tokyo annually.

While the demand for detached houses is not growing due to an apartment construction boom and lifestyle changes that are seeing men marry later in life, company officials provided the service to let their customers experience living happily as a family.

The model house tour was free of charge. Most of the applicants were single men aged between their 20s and 40s, but some were married or were planning to get married.

Five were chosen from among about 50 applicants for the tour.

The company interviewed general households and single men before creating the home tour scenario.

Ikki Takatani, 26, the marketing director of Regard, said the applicants' desires for their ideal house varied.

“We would like to provide a place where customers can have a virtual experience of their ideal house by first seeking their ideas of what it should be,” Takatani said.

The company conducted auditions for the model family and selected actors, including Saori, who has acting experience in TV dramas.

Masashi Suwa, an actor and director of a popular theater group named “Euope-Kikaku” in Kyoto, was chosen to direct the family scenario.

Actors trained since the summer to respond quickly to unexpected situations that could have developed during the virtual experience.

The scenario included the husband relaxing with his wife on the balcony and helping his daughter with her homework.

The tour guests were allowed to spend about 15 minutes each with their make-believe family.

Those chosen for the tour praised the experience, saying, “Now I know what it’s like to live as a family.”

Others added: “Frankly speaking, I enjoyed it,” and “I now have a goal to have such a family.”