Creating our own mneumonics

This is a thread to compile the mneumonics we have created ourselves, because we find them easier to remember than the ones koichi conceived.

I will start with two kanjis 安 and 全

: To remember the Onyomi, instead of koichi’s anchovies (too weird for me), I imagined that the woman living under the roof is called あん ANN.
“Ann is relaxed under this roof”

: The mneumonic to remember it, is “ALL kings wear hats”. I find it more logical to think of those hats as “shiny hats” aka Crowns. This is much easier to remember, for me. ALL kings wear shiny crowns except the ZEN ぜん buddhist one


personal mnemonics are often more effective than the ones provided, because the extra work in inventing the mnemonic writes the whole thing deeper into memory. on the other hand, when there’s one used over a long period, like the fearsome Mrs Chou, it’s probably more effective to use the provided one.

that said, nobody needs to know what happens to those poor sheep in my imagination :sweat_smile:

my personal one for 安 is that no mAN lives under this roof, and i’m generally more relaxed in women’s spaces ^^


One thing people don’t realize about custom reading mnemonics is that it’s a good idea to keep them consistent.

For example, whatever mnemonic you use for the あん reading, it has to take into account all the following:

Wanikani is pretty consistent in using the “anchovies” mnemonic for these so something to keep in mind if you roll your own.

Well, except for 闇, but I didn’t have time to edit the screenshot. :wink:


For the kanji readings, I often use the names of anime characters so that I can imagine them doing actions related to the radicals.

Examples of kanji mnemonics:

  • 次 - JIraiya from Naruto lacks ice for his drink, so the NEXT thing he’s going to do is go get some.

  • 有 - YUUsuke from Yu Yu Hakusho is riding a narwhal over the moon. What’s he saying? “I HAVE a narwhal!”

  • 立 - RITSU from Sekaiichi Hatsukoi is STANDing super straight.

For the vocab readings, I often just use brute force to memorize the word, or I replay the audio 8 zillion times until I remember it by hearing it. Sometimes I have to use passive aggressive mnemonics when everything else fails… such as “先 is a word I’ve seen PREVIOUSly and I keep getting it wrong. It’s a really sucky (さき) kanji!!"


Alternatively, you can come up with some way of integrating ‘an’ into every kanji’s mnemonic, possibly by linking it to the kanji’s meaning. However, that’s not something everyone will find easy to do, and I think I do a fair amount of brute force/linking sounds to emotions, so mnemonics don’t always apply.

Well, a mnemonic only has to get you past Guru stage or be there for items that you rarely see so they are still useful in the majority of cases.

Using a character as a reading mnemonic is quite useful as you can have them perform actions related to the meaning.

It’s the consistency that’s going to be key. Otherwise you end up confusing yourself.


I’m just saying that as a Chinese speaker, I don’t think I was very consistent when it came to learning readings. It really just tended to be a matter of ‘feeling’ the reading while staring at the kanji and accepting it, even if it didn’t always stick right away. Therefore, provided you’re not using a very elaborate method for remembering readings, I don’t think consistency is necessary provided you’re able to ‘compartmentalise’ kanji (e.g. like you said, making the character itself into the reading mnemonic/trigger). However, if you’re using a more elaborate system and are paying attention to the fact that many kanji do have the same readings (which is a fact), then yes, it could be helpful to have a consistent mnemonic for each reading or part of a reading.

That aside, I suppose that if I look back at whatever I did to learn kanji in Chinese, there’s probably going to be some method to the madness, like consistently using a particular part of a character, even subconsciously, to trigger the meaning or reading (the upper-right hand angle of 扭, for instance) or consistently using certain kanji components as phonetic components, so pure randomness probably isn’t the way to go either.

1 Like

I think you’re underestimating how much of that was due to already knowing Hanzi and speaking Mandarin. :wink:

I could start doing that at around level 35 after having a certain critical mass of Kanji under my belt. When just starting out, the mnemonics are what get you to that point.

And even after I could feel out a Kanji reading, I still pictured the mnemonic item as a quick reference to myself. For example, if I see a しょう reading, I’ll picture the Shogun and move on rather than using the full mnemonic but that’s after having used that same mnemonic for 2 years now.

You mean like Wanikani? :wink:

No, no, I agree that a lot of that happens with my Japanese because I already know Mandarin. At the very least, when I learn a new reading for a kanji, I often already know what the kanji means. However, what I’m saying is that I did the same thing in Mandarin. I still do it now, actually, because there are still characters I don’t know. I’m not going to claim it’s the most efficient method though; it probably isn’t.

Yeah, maybe. Hahaha. I’ve never tried using a particular object as a consistent symbol for something else though. Maybe I’m just afraid that I’ll want to use that object for another thing at some other point in my life, and I’ll have to shake off all the original associations. It’s like how I memorised the periodic table (though I’ve probably forgotten a few items by now): every column’s mnemonic was unique, and I used two stories to handle the two f-block lines right at the bottom.

1 Like

Funnily enough I had the same concern in the beginning. But the mnemonics either fade and you just know the item or the association is so strong for that particular thing that you can reuse it for something else.

You guys use letters to denote them? I learned them as groups and periods plus the extra rows for the radioactive stuff.

1 Like

Just a random example of an ‘accepting the reading’ story: 町 isn’t used much in Mandarin – I didn’t know it existed in Chinese until a few seconds ago – and I learnt it for the first time in Japanese. If you ask me how to remember the reading, uh… 田(ま)丁(ち)? It makes no sense at all, except maybe that I can now remember that there are two syllables, and 丁 looks like a nail that ‘pierces’, which is a word you’d pronounce “cì” in Mandarin, which sounds a bit like ち, and ま is a nice, round, full sound, kinda like how 田 looks really substantial… As for the meaning, surely there’s some link between farmland (田) and cities, right? I don’t know, maybe agriculture supports city life? You get the idea. I just form associations with anything and everything.

(To be honest though, probably because I already knew the components in Chinese and there weren’t a lot of them, I just looked at it and told myself, ‘OK, so this is called まち in Japanese, and it means “city”.’ Maybe there’s a sort of practice effect from speaking Mandarin, because I’ve got used to associating shapes with sounds even when there’s no apparent link? A lot of what I just said in that mnemonic feels more like stuff I came up with on the spot or which I had floating around in my subconscious.)

No, it’s an orbital thing. As you go over the last two lines, the… 4f and 5f orbitals fill up, if I remember correctly. They can also be called the lanthanides and actinides. The 10-by-4 block in the centre of the periodic table is called the d-block or the transition metals because the d-orbitals fills up as you go across. I learnt the words ‘period’ and ‘group’ as well though. However, I believe there are two naming conventions for the columns, and I don’t know what the origin of each is, so it gets confusing… One version involves Groups I-VIII + transition metals, and the other involves Groups 1-18.

That’s interesting!

1 Like

So I took a break, read a memoir written by a woman who went through a traumatizing experience and whose court case was in the news. Let’s just say I now have an extraordinarily dark mnemonic for 松. She blacked out at a party and woke up in the hospital with pine needles in her hair and had to testify publicly about that night.

Why is trauma the only way I can learn languages?

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