Do the mnemonics get better?

I’m currently going through the days vocab, like 三日, but none of the mnemonics have much to do with the numbers themselves, like in three days you’ll give み a ride in your か, but there’s nothing that connects that to the number three, made even harder by a bunch of them having to do with cars! This is around where I quit last time (yeah pretty fast I know) and I’ve hit the same bump again and want to know if the mnemonics will be this bad in the future. (Sorry if this is a bit ranty I’m a little frustrated and will definitely continue I just think this part will be easier if I know it’ll get better)

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I do think mnemonics for numbers are a bit more tricky, because how do you visualize a number in a such a specific and memorable way outside of just visualizing 2 or 3 or 4 of something??

As for mnemonics in general, I hardly ever look at the WaniKani suggestions. I’ve developed my own mnemonics over the years and I keep a list of them in googledocs. Sometimes the weirder the better is what sticks

Not gonna lie, I think most WaniKani mnemonics are really bad.

It’s not even the ones that are outlandish that are the worst. It’s the low-effort ones, where they just mention all the radicals and the meaning in a sentence without any sense of internal relationship between these things.

Or the infamous “this is a jukugo word, so you should know the reading” when at least one of the Kanji has multiple on readings.


But I’m assuming you still kept with it since you’re level 60? (Like it was worth it anyway right)

This is something that I still don’t have a clear opinion about. I probably stayed out of inertia and maybe could have switched to something else at some point. That said, I did obviously learn a ton of things (that I still remember), so it’s not like the time here was wasted.

All in all, I think WK is too expensive compared to alternatives and considering what it offers, though.


I personally think the mnemonics get worse. It seems to me like they put the majority of their efforts into the early levels. That being said, I also have found that I rely on the mnemonics less and less so it kind of balances out.

Despite feeling like the mnemonics are getting worse, I don’t particularly feel like the levels are getting harder.


the numbers are fucked up in general, just power through them somehow. No amount of mnemonics can fix this weird shit.

EDIT: Though to answer your question: No. The mnemonics do not get better. use the ones that are workable and make up your own as you go. The words/kanji do get easier tho. There’s a lot of anomalous stuff in the first few levels like numbers.


People like to hate on the WK supplied mnemonics, but coming up with 9087 mnemonics on your own is no easy task. (I doubt many users created their own mnemonics for all or even most of them, nor do I think anyone’s mnemonics would escape public scorn if they were shared).

The quality of the mnemonics is debatable, but I found most of them sufficiently useful that I didn’t create many of my own synonyms. I didn’t hesitate to create them when I felt it would help, though.

My only minor quibble is that they sometimes try too hard to only have one meaning for their radicals. My favorite example is (つき)へん always meaning moon. Mnemonics get a whole lot easier for many items when you realize it’s sometimes called にくづきへん and can mean body/meat/flesh.


I am also going through Reading the Kanji while going through WK. The actual kanji composition mnemonics have the same sort of short coming: in that using your own associations is going to work best. The mnemonic that pops into my head, fully formed upon first seeing a kanji is almost always better for me than any premade one I have access to. I have also found that mnemonics work best if the keyword comes before any element in the mnemonic. When confronted with the keyword, I usually ask who/what/why about it when trying to remember. So keyword first helps get me into building the kanji. I don’t have the same issue if confronted with the kanji, I can look at the radicals and end up at the mnemonic. While I write some non-trivial number of my own mnemonics (some of which even make it into the notes section), I appreciate to have an example to start from or fall back on when I can’t write one in the moment.

One of the things I really appreciate are the reading mnemonics use of repeated elements. If something is read りょう then it almost involves rowing like an oar, which helps distinguish from a ろう reading. Sometimes I find it helpful to rework a meaning mnemonic to include this reading cue.


Idk if this is the best idea, but I have elected to be optimistic about it and share your outlook on the mnemonics, overall my impression seems to be that there are definitely a ton that aren’t very good at all, but at the end of the day you can make your own for the really bad ones and just keep using it (and for the record, I recognize that I’m not being objective here I just need to find something to cling to/stick with and it doesn’t seem like WaniKani is a total dumpster fire or anything so let’s hope that this isn’t a bad decision)


IMO, that’s always the best idea. An optimistic attitude got me through the first 60 years of my life with little complaint.

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This may be an excessive amount of replying, but thank you for that, was worried someone was replying to tell me it was a bad idea

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It’s always gonna be hard to make mnemonics for numbers as other have mentioned, so I think it’s fair to cut some slack on Wanikani for these. I agree the mnemonics tend to get worse as you go one, but necessarily worse than the number ones since they’re a bit of an exception.

Anyway, my advice with the number mnemonics is to actually do what Wanikani tells you and imagine the story. Take for exemple 八つ:

So what eight things do you have? You have eight yachts (やっつ). Go ahead and count them. They’re beautiful. Also, be sure not to be confused by this particular reading mnemonic. It includes the つ, even though the つ is outside the reading you need to learn (just makes things easier for you overall). Since you can see the つ outside, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you.

When I failed to burned this vocab, I carefully reread the mnemonic and actually took the time to picture the mnemonic. In my head I saw a top-down view of 8 yachts arranged in an octogone, and I never forgot that image since then; the octogone is a nice visual way to see the number “8”, and now that image flashes in my head anytime I need to remember 八つ.

This is the “brute-forcing” approach to mnemonics Wanikani favors, which might not always stick as well as a more logical mnemonic, but the plus is that you can use it for anything as it doesn’t have to make sense. But yeah I’ve been making my own mnemonics or stealing them from, partly because in later levels Wanikani is always breaking down kanji in weird ways instead of using the simpler kanji they’re actually made of. The mnemonics do get a bit worse but you’re not at that point yet, and at that point you’ll have plenty of tools and know-how to make your own. One of the best thing I got from doing wanikani is learning how to make reading mnemonics and all those characters and items I can use to make my own, like Mrs Chou (ちょう), Ken the samurai (けん), Koichi (こう) or even just cake (けい).


I’ve found that Wanikani’s mnemonics don’t help me much. I try coming up with my own mnemonics for items, and only use Wanikani’s when I can’t think something up.

For the days of the weeks specifically, I struggled with them until I doscovered a video where someone sang them to the melody of We Are The Champions. I can’t find this one, sadly, but there are many songs out there to help learning the days of the week.
One that might help is actually for counting things, not the days, but they are similar: here (I know this is kind of a stupid video but I swear I’ve seen in once in class and it stuck, so it’s useful)


Oh my goodness that video is amazing thank you so much

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Another thing about Wanikani mnemonics is that, they may not help much in absence of Kanji. Like, written with Kana or in listening, even when they supposedly follow Kanji. Sometimes I make my own mnemonics for that.

I don’t think it is true about making over 9000 mnemonics on your own being no easy task. First of all, doing Wanikani takes years, so taking time to create is pretty easy. This also allows remaking a mnemonic when the first one fails or not good enough. Also, not everything needs mnemonics, especially for vocabularies, when you have exposed enough.

I can sympathize a little with numbers being irregular and difficult to remember. Many of those are Kunyomi plus sound changes.

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I think the idea is that you should be able to remember 三 is 3 because you already learned it as a kanji before receiving the new vocab.
The new thing you have to learn for 三日 is 三+日=3 days, and the reading for the kanji in combination is not さんにちbut みっか. That’s why the pneumonic is only covering those two concepts.
Kanji knowledge builds upon itself and at a certain point the pneumonics are just a way to hold yourself up while you ingrain the knowledge into yourself. I don’t even use them unless it’s a word or kanji that I find fairly confusing or tough to remember myself. But that’s because I already have 10 years of experience studying Japanese formally and 5 years in Japan, which gives me a “feeling” for certain radicals having certain meanings or readings. That takes time to cultivate, so the pneumonics hold you up for awhile while you learn.

I failed 八つ yesterday from Master to Enlightened, went to a similar process. Still mad.

Every time I see anything related to Mrs Chou I’m left traumatized and I never forget the reading :joy:


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