Better Mnemonics

Sometimes, the mnemonics that WaniKani gives you either don’t help or are misleading. I’m making this thread so that people can hopefully share their personal notes about some items they had particular difficulty with, to hopefully compile the better options into a table.

I think something you need to remember is that WaniKani’s mnemonics us that they should preferably be very general; a person who’s never been to Sapporo (or, like me, has only been there in the summer), or who doesn’t associate beer with wheat, is going to have a difficult time understanding this mnemonic.

However, it’s certainly true that mnemonics that you have a personal connection to them. For example, I remember the pronunciation of 麦 by imaginig Rom’s moogie on Deep Space 9 chewing his wheat for him, and I remember 助 (じょ) = assist because the powerful guy in the top hat aided ジョジョ on his bizarre adventure.

It’s also important to think about what information the learner is starting with; they don’t start by thinking about Sapporo, but rather start with life and winter, and that needs to lead to “wheat”, preferably with as few potential detours as possible.
I think that this may be less of a problem with personal mnemonics, though, because they are stronger.


That being said, even without this issue, the amount of mnemonics that just use names of freshly made up characters (never manage to stick with me), or those that focus more on some esoteric way that an English word is spelled rather than pronounced or its consonants alone (seriously, mugged = むぎ, and that’s one of the least outrageous examples) is way too high.


I can’t speak for others, but in terms of the reading, most of the time for the mnemonic to cue a recall, all it really takes is the first letter to be matching.

And as for what Kutsushokunin said about personal mnemonics being stronger, I agree. Even if the mnemonic barely makes sense, if you created it yourself you will have a higher chance of recalling it.

For 麦 which I just unlocked, for the reading, I just said ‘Muge (from a whisker away) eats wheat’. It’s not even true but it sticks since I made it.

1 Like

My impression this is a thread for suggested custom mnemonics (not asking WK to revise, right?).

I’m sure others thought of this: “What’s knocking on your ‘front door’? (とびら)、it’s time to study some grammar”.

Thought this was a whole lot easier than ‘jumping Ra’ but probably too advertise-y to be posted. Tobira full title is actually ‘Tobira Gateway to Advanced Japanese’ but just never made the connection until learning the vocab.

Some explanations are brilliant though, just came across this gem for 鉢巻 (headband)


I was the same at first, but after a couple dozen levels I don’t think I could forget Jourm or Grandfather ごういち. :wink:

1 Like

To be honest, a lot of the time I don’t even look at WK’s suggested mnemonic. I try to come up with my own first, then I have a look at theirs to see if it works for me. If it relies on a made-up character I don’t even finish reading it and I go back to trying to create my own.

I agree with what others said about personal mnemonics being stronger. I’m here for the SRS, not so much for the mnemonics.


Yeah, it’s not asking WK to revise it. Hence planning on making a table of them. It’s additional mnemonics for people who have trouble with what WK suggest.

1 Like

After a couple dozen levels. I think 3+ months is enough for Stockholm to set in. :durtle_megane:


I was born in Stockholm 242843823313518592


I’m pretty sure it’s been established that everybody on the WaniKani forums is from Stockholm; if not physically, then at least in spirit.

(Indeed, the reason I associate Sapporo with summer is that the Tobetsu Sweden Marathon (about an hour’s train ride from Sapporo) has taken place in August for the past two years. This year, it’s been moved to October, although I’m not optimistic about my travel plans.)


For this one I remember that Mugi from K-on has vaguely wheat coloured hair. I don’t think I had too much of a problem with Wanikani’s mnemonic, but when I read むぎ she was just the first thing that popped into my mind and it fit well.

For me personally remembering “mugged” I either ended up writing まぎ or むげ before I just gave up on it.


Sometimes I think, at first sight, that the WK mnemonic is ridiculous, and I make up my own, only to find that the rejected WK mnemonic is the one that sticks. Our minds work in strange ways!


I like the WK mnemonics because I’m too lazy to come up with my own B)


It’s pretty well known in “memory athlete” circles that the best mnemonics are obscene, embarrassing, extremely exaggerated, and vividly visual.

I’m embarrassed to type most of mine into the notes, much less share them on a public forum! :laughing:


I used Mugi the Moogle who loves to eat wheat.

I started making up my own mnemonics from around level 12 onwards! I want to share some of my “rules” I’ve given myself to keep them structured in a way that helps me remember what’s what.

Always have to be the same mnemonic, Example: せん is always Centaur けん is always Kenshin, etc.
Try to make it either a location or a person. So that the mnemonic either has an “actor” or a “setting” for the radicals to interact with. I found location or person helps from not bumping with radicals, because they aren’t also ideas or items.

Mnemonic Order
Radicals → Reading → Meaning
This is because when I see the kanji, I’m gonna analyze the radicals first, this should help jog my memory of the rest of the mnemonic. Sometimes I switch the reading or the meaning being last when it is too difficult to make it work but generally speaking, if I know if Centaur comes up, that’s the reading and probably not a kanji meaning. I think the main thing is to just keep the radicals first.

An example:
Radicals 言 Say 刃 Blade 心 Heart
Reading ニン “Nintendo”
Meaning Recognize
Mnemonic It saysBlade Heart from NINTENDO” Do you recognize it?

Hope this helped.


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.