Does anyone use a Memory Palace or Memory Room? This is my guide on how to do it

I started building a Memory Room to memorise mnemonics at around level 10, when I found that maintaining that many stories rather overwhelming and I’m glad that I took that time as it seems to be saving me time on reviews!

The thing with Kanji is that so many words share the same reading and thus, similar mnemonic components, so having objects in locations around the Memory Room makes perfect sense, I’d say!

Here’s what I mean

My Memory Room has

  • an entrance corridor leading off to a staircase or towards the room
  • 2 solid walls
  • a windowed wall
  • a huge stage wall like you’d have in Kabuki:

|-----------------------------Stage (like Kabuki) -----------------|
|
Wall|
|
|
+++++++
Entrance
+++++++ Staircase\\
|----------------------------------Wall-------------- Window wall ^

I’m stood in the centre of the room

I have objects and characters like Koichi, Shougun, Ken, Genji, A car, a pile of thread, a stool, a cage, a Viking, a spirit, a judge, a dog, an acorn etc. placed in specific points around the room such as wall faces and corners. they never move away from their location

Looking out of the window I imagine buildings, the sky, heaven, Kyoto, Tokyo etc.

The Stage is reserved for lavish mnemonics involving tsunamis (I always picture Hokusai’s ‘Wave’ painting!), rivers, earthquakes, rice paddies, rooftops etc.

That’s it!

It might seem like overkill to do all of this but I can honestly say that planting the mnemonics into a single place then walking them through out loud has made retrieval easier, rather than trying to pull a mnemonic from ‘thin air’.

The beauty of it is that even though you’re re-using the objects and characters for potentially hundreds of mnemonics each, your memory is really good at piecing together the right mnemonic for the right combination of radicals!

Give it a go!

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I always wondered (well not always, but since watching Sherlock at least) how that works.

It seems that works only for people with visual imagination. I, for example, can’t even picture an apple in my mind’s eye. I mean, I know how it must look like and could describe its attributes, but that “and now imagine an apple, see its texture, its color” style of exercise has NEVER worked for me. I just can’t.

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@banira I think having a vivid imagination does come naturally to some people, but at the same time I think it can be trained - take your apple example - perhaps you could spend 10 seconds everyday to place an apple on a table and just look at it, then make up thoughts like you’re tossing it into a lake so you hear the splosh and see the apple bounce on the surface - I think just doing that for 10 seconds everyday can help to build up vivid images of anything.

Connected to that, perhaps you could try using physical objects for the radicals like drawing trees, shouguns, dogs, vikings etc. and placing them around a box and try to memorise where everything is in the box then recall that physical box and use the mnemonics you store around it? You could even use a whole room if you have the space!

The magic of Memory Palace/Room happens in the automatic location recollection of certain things in certain places in a certain space that you’re familiar with instead of trying to draw them from null space every time which is inefficient - sort of like when you can’t find your keys, but you can picture where they might be - like on the dining table or in your backpack.

Hope that helps a bit!

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I’m not sure it works that way for people like @banira and myself. I can’t even comprehend how I “hear the splosh” or “see the apple bounce on the surface”.

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Wow. I didn’t know a Mind Palace was a real thing. I only ever heard about it in Sherlock. Even then, I thought it was way detailed and might not be a real thing, like who could do that, and how long does that take to sit there and imagine and extract all the information in your memory if you are having to walk to an actual location in your head to find what you are looking for each time? I think that is the point of the mnemonic devices is to have a saying that triggers the answer from memory quickly and efficiently (mnemonic devices don’t work for some people). I feel like a mind palace is a completely opposite way of learning than mnemonics, though it is an actual learning device that may work for some.

I’m surprised to see someone using this technique and think it is cool that it works for you. I hope you can make your mind palace as awesome as Sherlock’s!

I have a visual imagination, so I wonder if I could have a mind palace. It might take me too long to close my eyes and walk around just to answer a question, though! :joy:

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@seanblue @banira Yes, reading back my last comment, it did come across rather ideological, I didn’t intend it to, got a bit carried away, sorry! It’s interesting to find out what mechanisms people use to store memories, it’s a fascinating subject

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That’s a really neat idea. I usually draw a (simple) picture of the words I keep getting wrong, and then I remember them.

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there’s a name for that apparently https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphantasia

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@Greenfire311 I didn’t know it was used in Sherlock - I just googled it after Banira mentioned it earlier and watched a youtube clip and yes, it’s essentially what he’s doing!

I don’t so much walk around though, more stand in the centre of my Memory Room and turn around 360 as needed to look at the objects in their locations, whether it’s the cage by the window, the shougun in the corner by the stage, or the pile of thread by the entrance.

For me it’s a place to keep all of those whacky mnemonics in WK - by combining the objects (but always have a ‘lead’ object that doesn’t move) I find it quicker to conjure up the mnemonic because I can immediately see the lead object - e.g. “There’s a guy in a cage (lead object which is always by the window) getting some sun whilst sitting on a stool twiddling a comb because he’s stolen a Ka (car) - he has a lot of Spare Time” <-- the car luckily is in the corner to the left of the window so that was a bonus

I’d really recommend giving it a go - it’s constantly being built as the mnemonics keep coming in and you’d be surprised how little you get muddled up - the power of the imagination!

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@prettynyguen That’s great! Yeah that’s the core of it, just putting all those stories in a single room :smiley:

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Yeah, we’ve discussed aphantasia on the forums before. It’s a really interesting topic. It’s important to remember that how well someone can visualize things is a spectrum, not a binary thing. I don’t think I have aphantasia, but I’m definitely towards that end of the spectrum. For example, I can see vague outlines of objects if I force myself to, but it really doesn’t seem to resemble what highly visual people describe when they talk about how they visualize things. No matter how hard I try, I can’t see detail, color, depth, or anything like that.

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Thanks for sharing this simple and direct method! Before I came across WK I tried using the Heisig book. It’s a classic, but I hated his mnemonics (and eventually didn’t like the order he was following, not to mention no vocabulary and readings!) and so I used each of his sections to craft my own mnemonic storylines for each section, with some visual elements but mostly a verbal narrative. It was a chore and when I tried WK and kind of liked the mnemonics and especially the characters like The Shogun, Mrs. Chou, and Kochi of course, and so on, I quit that first attempt. Now I think I’ll go back to some more narrative and visual settings like the ones you suggest to situate these figures in a scene. This approach makes perfect sense to me, especially since that is one thing our brains excel at – narrative!

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@yukinet Oh, that’s interesting, thanks!

interesting concept!
i don’t do that exactly but i do have directional bits in my memory as well.
koichi is to my right, thread is between my fingers, the sheep is in front of me (always in the way, that sheep) and i also look out the window
i move my eyes when remembering stuff but i must say i gesticulate quite a bit as well
i’m sure i look crazy when i do my reviews!

i like how your room keeps everything in the same space

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Oh that’s really interesting @seanblue - do you find that on the other hand you can focus quite strongly for long periods of time on the task at hand?

@MashusuJooji Yes, it’s strange how adding a new character into the mix seems to strengthen other memories in some cases - I’m finding the more objects and characters I pack into the room, the more other mnemonics kind of get enriched!

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@saibaneko Yes! That’s basically how it started - things sort of always ended up in the same place over and over, so I just decided to encapsulate them in the same room environment, and it all just stuck and I can’t escape now! Haha

I really recommend having a ‘Stage’ area you can look at - it’s where really elaborate things happen and those mnemonics always stick!

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This is really cool! I’ve done something similar in the past where my brain would kinda generate rooms and corridors when I keep hearing or saying the same thing over again. For example, say I’m trying to remember a speech. The first part would be the “entrance”, then I, in my head, would move to a “room” on the left hand side for the second part, then I would walk through the “corridor” in the south for the third part, etc.
They’re not really “rooms” for me, but interconnected locations that head generates. I can create a map on paper with them afterwards, because the locations and the space between them are that clear for me. Cool to know that this phenomenon has a name!

BUT!
I am directionally-challenged IRL, so I always get lost and cannot follow maps nor directions to save my life! Brains are weird.

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That’s really interesting @TrinityBringer - I’ve read about the ‘Roman Room’ method that can be used for memorising speeches by walking between interconnected locations - it sounds like that ties in with what you’re doing!

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No worries.

It‘s really strange, I sure can describe an apple to you, with a lot of details and whatnot — I just don‘t see it.

Minds are strange, and I intimately only know mine, so I find it totally fascinating that other minds seem to work on totally different sets of rules!

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