Forgetting the mnemonics whilst remembering the reading / meaning

I have, in some instances, found that I instantly recognise a kanji and the reading - However - i can’t remember the mnemonic anymore. Somehow it feels like the memory is weaker as a result - like somehow forgetting the way i remembered in the first place, makes the memory more fragile.

which raised a couple of questions -

Do people at higher levels still remember the mnemonics that they used to learn the kanji ?

And if i remember the reading / meaning, but not the mnemonic, should i remind myself?


and apologies if you think this train of thought should have remained in my head.


Personally, I think mnemonics is just used initially to make it stick. Eventually, as you learn, the mnemonics disappear and you can read things without mnemonics - that’s actually more normal and closer to fluency. Do you have to think of mnemonics on how to remember any words you use in English?


It’s pretty much the goal to forget the mnemonics eventually. You probably don’t want to think of the mnemonics every time you read a text.


In my experience, it is nothing to worry about as long as you are reading books and stuff occasionally. Over time some my recognition becomes so quick for some that I eventually drop the mnemonics, but that is not a problem because I start seeing them as parts of words and their readings just come naturally along with their meanings.

Could become a problem if you are not reading regularly though at some point…

Haha, no I definitely wondered the same thing at one point…probably better to ask then just worry about it on your own.

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That’s not only ok, it’s actually what you’re aiming for.

I don’t even remember many of the radicals from the first few levels.


I’m at level 5 and I have noticed that a good number of meanings/readings pop in my head before the mnemonic does. I see it as an indication that burning process has begun :smiley:

Sometimes in the flow of things I type the answer before I even process the test. It’s how it should be if Japanese is to ever become one of my natural languages.


Of all the words I’ve burned, I’d say I only recall a small fraction of the mnemonics for them.


As others have said, the mnemonic is really just something to give you a foothold. If you ask me to remember the mnemonic for 行’s onyomi, I wouldn’t be able to say. After a certain amount of time, it just begins to “look like” こう (or ぎょう). Its hard to explain, but it will come with time. Just because I forgot why I think it looks like こう or ぎょう, does not mean I will forget it.


Linking this thread since it’s relevant, and there’s some good discussion on there about this:


Oh yeah, that’s brilliant - thanks.

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Thanks for your replies.

There is a premium on brain space in my noggin at the moment , so anything that can be forgotten without consequence is a bonus :joy:

I have found myself completely amazed by what brains are capable of when you use the right techniques to memorise things.

I just hope i survive into the later levels so i can forget even more of the mnemonics !


Yeah that’s great, unlike remembering the mnemonic but not the word which happens to me a lot.

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HAHAHA - yeah, that’s painful isn’t it -

OK - so there is a father up a tree with a lid on his head… what’s he shouting again? followed by facepalm and tears.


LOL even I remember this one, 校 right?



If anything, if I’m relying on the mnemonic by the time I hit Enlightened, I pretty much assume I’m going to miss the Burn. Mnemonics take way more brain space than the reading+meaning, and I can’t retain them as long. They get overwritten by more recent mnemonics in a way readings/meanings don’t (at least not so easily). So shed those mnemonics as early as you can. Not in the sense that they’re something you need to try to actively forget, but the sooner you recognize the kanji on sight, the sooner you’ll retain it.

There are plenty of words I’m guruing now with heavy reliance on the mnemonic and I’m just outright assuming those will inevitably join my leeches.

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