Shoganai – when things can’t be helped

Shoganai – when things can’t be helped

Learn all about Shoganai

Shoganai is an important word, which, if you go to Japan, you may hear often. Shoganai can loosely be translated to “it can’t be helped’. The philosophy/strategy behind Shoganai is that some things are beyond your control and that it is better to focus on things that can be changed, that it is better to move on. It is a term that explains to us why the Japanese deal with terrible events such as natural and other disasters without complaining. It adds a sense of grace many cultures find difficult to grasp.

Japan had to bounce back after World War 2 when so many cities have been devastated or destroyed, and if it was not for the Shoganai attitude they would not have bounced back so quick. It has a negative effect too according to some as there were many of the Japanese citizens that disagree with Japans actions during the Second World War but did not speak up. They just said ‘Shoganai’. Japanese that are unhappy with certain government policies also uses the term and they do not go out to vote. They also just say ‘Shoganai’

But do not for a moment think that the word implies that someone is not willing to go the extra mile, or to try harder, or gives up too easily. It is also a word of acceptance until times get better. As an example, let us look at the Tohoku earthquake that happened in Japan. Thanks to the earthquake, eastern Japan faced a lot of power shortages. It caused a lot of electricity cuts like escalators going down being stopped, and department stores and supermarkets dimming their lights. Everybody knew that power would be restored and instead of moping about inconveniences they just said ‘Shoganai’ and moved on and persevered.

It reminds one of when Konohagakure was all but flattened when Pain attacked the village in Naruto Shippūden. The town’s people did not give up and bounced back. Some might have said Shoganai but with a ganbatte-attittude and the Will of Fire they started to fix things up, and will prosper again.

Here is a video about a young woman’s experience with the word ‘shoganai’. It is interesting to note that she hated it first, and it was a huge culture shock for her but came to get a deeper understanding of it. Please follow our link:

Want to know more about the ganbatte-attitude? Please follow our link:

Want to know more about the Will of Fire? Please follow our link:

For any suggestions, opinions or requests please mail us at