Self Evident Presents: “Shikata Ga Nai” (by Julianne Sato-Parker)


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Julianne Sato-Parker first heard the phrase, “Shikata ga nai” while watching a video series of interviews with Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals who were incarcerated by the U.S government after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese phrase translates to, “It cannot be helped.” It reminded Julianne of her grandmother, who has always said a similar phrase when navigating life’s unpredictable twists and turns: “That’s just the way the ball bounces.”

But the phrases may not be as passive as they seem. As Julianne became fixated on how one became the other, she turned to her grandmother for answers — and to better understand how we find resistance and resilience, even in things as seemingly simple as a phrase.



Self Evident is a Studio To Be production. Our show is made with support from PRX and the Google Podcasts creator program — and our listener community.

38 episodes