“I want to die.” In February 2013, Hiroshi Okamoto received this e-mail from his best friend from university, who was looking for a job at the time. Every year in Japan, more than half a million third-year students start job-hunting simultaneously in a process called shūkatsu. 

Competition is fierce and the pressure to win naitei, an offer of post-graduation employment, is enormous. Since companies prefer to hire new graduates, and generally do so only once a year, gaining even an entry-level position later in life is extremely difficult. Naitei thus marks not only an important rite of passage – the entrance of students into the workforce – it can also determine the success or failure of their future careers. This recruitment practice means an almost impossible balance between job-hunting and academic work, and can lead to mental illness and even suicidal thoughts.

Recruit is the story of Okamoto’s friend Yo Toshino, but it is also the story of many other young Japanese job-seekers. With youth unemployment high in many countries, it is an issue that deserves more exposure.

Who? Hiroshi Okamoto

From Japan

Docking October 17 - November 11, 2016

Working on Recruit

About Job-hunters in Japan


Hiroshi is a photographer / filmdirector based in Tokyo. He was born in 1990. He graduated from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University with a degree in social science and anthropology in 2014. After graduating, he was working as film director and editor at a video production in Japan. He started his career as a freelance photographer and film director from 2016. He is mostly working on East African countries and Japan.



Director at Spaarnestad Photo

The book is about the author’s friend’s experience of job hunting in Japan. It has a form of a recruiting portfolio application, mixed with emails, bills, travel tickets, behavior and dress code instructions. It provides an in-depth insider view into the struggle of young people being on the border between teenage and adult life. The book keeps the viewer curious until the last page.

Hiroshi won the runner up prize for this book at the Photobook Awards in Maribor, Slovenia.