A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Know the Local Lingo- Ibaraki-ben, 茨城弁 (2): Sha-Meh-Nah

By Avi Landau


With big festivals interrupted by rain (Hojo Matsuri) and Joso Gakuen’s disappointing early departure from this summer’s high school baseball tournament in Koshien, you can probably hear it, in one of its many variations, more often these days than usual. An emotional and sing-song SHA-MEH-NAH or SHANNEN-NA  are the ways it can be most commonly heard. Usually as a form of resignation, consolation or rationalization.

This is the local way of saying shikata ga nai (仕方がない), or the same expressions more casual form -sho ga nai (しょうがない), which could be translated into English as: “Well, what can ya do?”, or “That’s the way it goes”, or “Nothing can be done about it”.

There is NO one set way to translate this archetypal Japanese expression into English, but there is a large array of fatalistic idioms and expressions which can be chosen from.

Please remember that many native Ibarakians that you meet do not use the local dialect. Still there are MANY who love and cherish it and will be very happy to hear it coming from your lips.

Recently you might have heard sha-meh-nah to console kids disappointed that their festival had been cancelled: Amedakara SHA ME NAH.

Or disappointed High School baseball fans muttering SHANNEN-NA to themselves.

Do your best with the local lingo, but if you don’t want to ….


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