Known thngs and references as opposed to mnemonics

I was thinking, while mnemonics are all well and good to help us remember the kanji with a story spin from radicals, there are times when I know the word and it’s easy to remember based on just knowing it from somewhere else. I even love some words in this way. I wonder if others have the same thing.
Please tell your story.

Mine is 少年 * しょうねん - boy, young man

I picked it up a long while back from the film Ping Pong (which I bloody love), when Peco is about to jump of a bridge, and a policeman comes by and calls out 少年 and gives him some advise that life will get better. The policeman is pretty relaxed, he expects his advise to solve everything, but then Peco jumps anyway. (He doesn’t die, so its funny).

After this I realised there is the band Shonen Knife, which is probably a reference to the Sex Pistols.

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This happens to me from time to time, and probably does for most people. I’ll think, “why didn’t they just explain it like this instead of the mnemonic.” I’m sure making connections help me remember what I’m learning better.

During level 15 I learned the vocab 計画, and I was struggling to remember “the secondary reading” of 画. Then, days later, I was thinking about something going “according to keikaku” (which is a meme) and I realized I now knew the kanji for the word.


I’m pretty much the same way, but I think the issue there is that the strength of these references will be really dependent on the user.

I do have a similar relationship to 計画, though, and it originally helped me learn 計.

When I was doing a Japanese class last year, I also used this sentence in my study papers to remember the use of 通り:


A little while ago, I started putting together a list which I call “Japanese you already know”, made up of English words or well-known Japanese words that you can extract some interesting Japanese knowledge from. This list isn’t very structured, and it’s written in a weird mix of romaji and regular English spelling, but anyhow:

  • Konnichiha
  • Arigatou
  • Sayonara
  • Moshi moshi
  • Ninja, geisha
  • Kendo, iaido, aikido
  • Shinto
  • Tao (Chinese, similar to 道)
  • Budo, bushido
  • Sake, izakaya
  • Juujutsu, bujutsu
  • Karate
  • Samurai, ronin
  • Shogun
  • Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Yu-Gi-Oh
  • Wabi-sabi
  • Onigiri
  • Feng Shui (actually Chinese, but 風水 works in Japanese)
  • Yokai, Kaiju
  • Bakemono, bakeneko
  • Bonsai
  • Ikebana
  • Kabuki
  • Kimono
  • Manga
  • Origami
  • Kami, kamikaze
  • Otaku
  • Haiku
  • Karoshi
  • Taikun, honcho
  • Tsunami
  • Bento
  • Panko
  • Umami
  • Sukiyaki, teriyaki, yakitori
  • Kabuto
  • Tengu
  • Emoji
  • Kawaii, kakkoii
  • Riksha
  • Sensei, senpai
  • Shiba inu
  • Sudoku
  • Konosuba
  • Luigi (類似)
  • Tamagochi
  • Kame(hameha)
  • Kaioken, hadouken
  • Genkidama
  • Hentai
  • Sakura
  • Keikaku
  • Seifuku
  • Anki, Tatoeba
  • Heian
  • Tian An Men (Chinese, but 天安門 is pronounced similarly in Japanese)
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  • Karaoke
  • Matcha
  • Sushi
  • Futon
  • Typhoon
  • Yukata

EDIT: also, kamehameha is Hawaiian, isn’t it?

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I know 少年 from the neon genesis theme song ! (少年よ神話になれ!!!). Also the words for cruel and angel :stuck_out_tongue: .
I solidify a lot of vocab in anime actually. For example 兄弟 became much easier to remember after I watched full metal alchemist and the 3000 refereces to Edrich-兄弟

I had a little chuckle to myself when I found it strangely familiar to hear the Japanese for two “things” :wink: :wink: is ふたつ goes to show my filthy habits…

Mnemonics on Wanikani are made to be understood by as many people as possible, but it’s HIGHLY recommended for each user to create their own personal connections to the content.

On the site, we can only assume the user knows English, (which is sad in of itself, to be honest) so it’s the responsibility of the user to do the rest.

Again, that being said, do everything in your ability to relate information to information that’s more familiar to you.


It is, but it appears to be a pun of sorts on 亀 :slight_smile:

Kame-Sennin (Master Roshi) wears a turtle shell on his back, and his students bear the kanji 亀 on their gis.

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