J's alternate mnemonics, Level 1-10


You’re a bird lover, and canaries are CERTAINLY your favorite! It just breaks your heart to see them in captivity though. So, you decide to break into the zoo and free all the canaries. CERTAINLY it’s the right thing to do! Those poor little canaries!

Then, you have a heart stopping thought!

Are there CANARIES (かなら) in the ZOO (ず)? CERTAINLY!

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必死(ひっし)Frantic, certain death, desperate

What does CERTAIN DEATH sound like to you? Your first date!

You’re so DESPERATE and he/she like you, that waiting for the date is killing you. You’re FRANTIC about what to say, what to wear, when to go for the kiss, etc. You’re a wreck, but it’s exciting too!


As the date gets closer, you’re wonder if HE/SHE will like you, if HE/SHE will kiss you, if HE/SHE will …

Then you have a funny thought… HE/SHE, he, she, ひっし. You forgot to check if your date is a HE or SHE or non-binary. That’s the thing with online dating. You don’t really know.

Now, you’re even more DESPERATE. (Obviously you’re ok either way, because this is the 2020s. Imagine all outcomes in vivid detail.)

一本気(いっぽんぎ)One-track mind

People in Roppongi (ろっぽんぎ) have a ONE TRACK MIND (いっぽんぎ)!

Why? There are a lot of foreigners in Roppongi (六本木), so Japanese people who are obsessed with foreigners tend to go there to pick up foreigners. SINGLE MINDED foreigners know this too, so tend to go there as well. It’s a weird meat market feeling, since everyone has a ONE-TRACK MIND.

組(くみ)Group, team

You want to be cool (く), so you joined a stylish fashion GROUP, called the “Cool Me! TEAM”. In you GROUP, everyone wears cool THREADS and cool TOP HATS. Your secret greeting is “Cool me? (くみ)” to which your cool friends reply “Cool me! (くみ)”.

Practice it right now. Say “Cool me?”, put on your cool threads and top hat, look at yourself in the mirror, and and answer “Yeah, cool me!”

失う(うしなう)to Lose

A group of women are at a restaurant talking about their husbands. One woman (dressed in farmer overalls) is super angry, because her HUSBAND keeps LOSING things, even really big things. She demonstrates loudly how she yells at him “YOU!! (う) It’s your FAULT!! YOU (う) can loose anything!!” (Notice the other restaurant customers surprise at this outburst.)


The woman goes home to her farm, and her HUSBAND is looking really guilty. She yells “YOU!! What did you LOSE now!?” He replies in Japanese “うし”. She starts laughing (a bit crazily) and says “USHI! NOW you lost a cow!?” They start laughing together, then run upstairs to jump in bed.

Turns out that the husband isn’t actually losing things. He just likes to see his wife get worked up. It’s just harmless foreplay. The cow and all the other things he lost are in the barn.

化ける(ばける)to Transform

You’re getting worried about how pollution is TRANSFORMing the planet. So, you take your magic spoon and CHANGE your car (か) into a sheep. In addition to saving on gas, the sheep is much quieter than your car. It just makes a nice BAaaa (ば) sound.

Hear the beautiful BA of your sheep as you hug a nearby tree. Imagine all transportation TRANSFORMing to sheep.

支える(ささえる)to Support

You’re a tree, and your human friend breaks her leg. She really needs SUPPORT. So you SAW off 2 BRANCHES to make crutches for her. With a quick SAW SAW (ささ), she has all the SUPPORT she needs!

Good for remembering し too

君 (きみ) You, buddy

YOU BUDDY! YOU are the KEY to my heart. YOU are the KEY to ME (きみ)

間もなく(まもかく)Soon, before long

It’s morning and time to go to school BEFORE LONG. Since you’re running out of time, your MOM KNOCKs on your door to remind you. But you ignore her, because you know she’ll knock 1 MOre (も) time. When you hear the MOM MO KNOCK (まもなく) you know to leave SOON.

人数(にんずう)Number of people

This word is great for counting the NUMBER OF PEOPLE (にんず) who are staying home during a pandemic.

It’s ずう instead of すう, because when people stay home, the wild animals can roam the streets in safety. It’s like the ZOO is turned inside out, with the animals looking in people’s windows and wondering about the NUMBER OF PEOPLE (にん) in the ZOO (ずう).

形(かたち)Shape, form, appearance

It’s obvious that this little lantern is farting. The APPEARANCE of lines behind him indicates that he CUT THE CHEese (かたち). Fortunately, it’s just a little poof, with no lasting FORM or SHAPE.

Imagine… what does a lantern fart smell like? Lantern oil perhaps, with a hint of CAke (けい) ?

(Sometimes pronounced かた or がた, like “I GOTTA fart”)

付近(ふきん)Neighborhood, nearby

Who’s ATTACHED to being NEARBY? Your FU*KING (ふきん) parents of course!

You love your parents, but you really need a little distance. 18 years under their rule was plenty, and it’s time to live your own life.

But when you moved away, they bought a house in the same NEIGHBORHOOD. They can actually see in your bedroom window from their kitchen. It’s ridiculous!!

Imagine how angry you are. Go ahead, say it out loud!

FU*KING (ふきん) parents! Why are they to ATTACHED to being NEARBY? Can’t they love me from a distance?

欠かす(かかす)to Miss, to fail

Your co-worker SUE always MISSes the daily meeting at work. Not only does she FAIL TO ATTEND, she pretends it’s an accident, even though everyone knows it’s intentional.

Every morning she acts surprised and says loudly:
KAKA (かか) I MISSED it again!

She’s earned the nickname KAKA SUE (かかす).


In Japan, all PITCHERs wear special TOE SHOEs (とうしゅ), where the big toe is separate. This helps them grip the ground better, and really TOSS (とうしゅ)the ball well.


At McDonalds, you noticed a DROP of WATER on the GROUND. Being a neat freak, you ask the teenager behind the counter to clean it up.

They look at you with vacant eyes, point to the REQUEST box, and say "Please put your REQUEST in the QUEUE (きゅう).



It’s not the END, until the last SHOE (しゅう) drops. That’s the FINISH.



These IRON bars are so heavy (heavier than gold bars) that you can’t lift them with just one hand, TE one. It takes two hands, TE two (てつ). (It’s not your FAULT! This isn’t GOLD. It’s IRON).

読(よ) Read

You own a small yoyo store, with a hand written blue sign out front which says “Fine YOYOs for sale”

But, for some reason, people keep SAYing “What do you sell here?”
You SAY “YO! I’m selling YO-YOs! Can’t you READ?”

(Maybe it’s time to put a picture on that sign, since no one can READ your handwriting. You could improve your customer service skills too. Yelling “YO, can’t you READ!” isn’t great for business.)

点ける(つける)to Switch on

I get really TENSE (てん、つ) when I see this word, because I only know the on’yomi for 点 (てん), but I need the kun’yomi (つ).

And, I can’t remember anything verb related to 点. to decimal? to point? That’s it! I POINT to my whiteboard, where I write down the hard words.

Shoot, it’s too dark to read it. So I SWITCH ON the lights, and there it is.

点ける(つける)to Switch on


When I think about people CLOWNing around with their NECK, I can’t help but think of Puppetry of the Penis. Those guys are totally RADICAL. They even shaved their BUSH (ぶしゅ) for the show.

If you haven’t heard of it, carefully google it… then clear your browser history!
It’s not porn. It’s worse. LOL