Lame Mnemonics

I’m really struggling with some of the mnemonics presented by Wani-Kani.

I’m sorry to say, some of the mnemonics presented, really annoy me. :crazy_face:

I find some of the mnemonics are so ‘lame’… for example…

“a four sided animal”…??? Huh? Come again? How is a sheep a four sided animal, and a dog ‘not’ a four sided animal?.. :joy: or any ‘other’ animal? The only thing I can remotely think of that ‘might’ be considered an animal with four sides, is a box jellyfish?? Not, a sheep… It seems beyond ridiculous. (I understand that mnemonics are ‘designed’ to provoke a memory.) But sometimes, when they take me out on a tangent like this… I spend far too much time with internal ‘fighting’…

I find myself getting more occupied, feeling annoyance, rather than ‘learning’ these kanji!!.. it’s even brought me here!..

Sorry, I realise it’s probably not possible to please ‘everybody’… and I appreciate there are a LOT of mnemonics to come up with… (I should just make my own)… learning kanji is a long and painful process for me… I bought into the - “Wani-Kani makes everything easy” - marketing blurb I suppose?

Most of the mnemonics I do NOT find ‘helpful’… quite the contrary…

The Wani-Kani ‘world’ isn’t going to change… I guess I’ll have to?


Not an uncommon complaint, for what that’s worth. Lots of people find themselves making their own mnemonics and prefer it that way. Personally I largely roll with the WK ones but do make little adjustments, often just to simplify them. There’s no way to make a set that works for everyone but I wouldn’t disagree that there are certainly places for improvement. I believe there are scripts for alternatives or other websites people occasionally visit for other ideas, if the radicals match (which they won’t always).

For me, I feel like mnemonics work by just priming a little sentence in my head, and a long time I stopped trying to visualize or even really make sense of them, but just by trying to internalize said sentence a bit, it’s easier to string it together and bring forth the rest once I get started than it would be to recall those disparate pieces of information. Might be different for other people though.

I know your problem is larger than this single instance but the good news is by now, having directed this much annoyance at it and even posted here, you will almost definitely remember the 4 sided sheep :sheep:


Most of the times if you find a mnemonic to be unhelpful, it’s because you read it, think it’s dumb, and not actually try to commit it to your memory. If you allow me to give you some homework: next time you read a mnemonic and go “oh this is so stupid”, simply try it out. Really visualize it, give it a try.

That being said, as you also mentioned, but it’s always better to make up your own mnemonics. They’re more intimate than WK’s mnemonics which are designed to be helpful to a very general audience. Experiment with what your brain likes to remember and have fun with it. Sometimes, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get creative, especially if nothing pops into your mind immediately, but you should find it really pays off in the end.


When I don’t like the mnemonic, I make my own and write it into the “Meaning Notes” field. Often it’s easier to remember your own mnemonics anyways, just because you made them and spent time on it, and you can make it specific to your associations.


I also sometimes stop and disagree really hard with some of WKs mnemonics. They can be borderline offensive in how unintuitive they seem to me. In those cases, once I’m done mentally ranting at whoever came up with the mnemonic, I just make my own, write it in the notes field, and move on:)


For a bit of science behind mnemonics, the ideal ones make you feel some emotion. This can be done by making them silly or unexpected, which is what wanikani seem to be aiming for most of the time. In this case you could go ‘This is that ridiculous one about the four sided sheep. Ah it’s shi’.

If a mnemonic has a nice sensible story but doesn’t make you feel anything, it doesn’t work as well as one that is ridiculous and make you feel something.

But yeah, if it just doesn’t work you can make your own and put it in the notes.


You’re right, it is a bit ridiculous… A sheep could never be four sided unless it was either a 2D square or a pyramid… A six sided cubic sheep is much more plausible


The mnemonic already covers that objection. :stuck_out_tongue:


I should learn to read before I attempt to derail a perfectly normal thread with dumb jokes…

a prismic sheep would be much cooler anyway… actually that’s a cool band name… :thinking:


Tempted to make a script that replaces all mnemonics with the text:

This mnemonic has been left as an exercise for the reader.


Lol reading that on it’s own I can’t even imagine what kanji that is for. Shi is such a common reading it could be anything. Something to do with a 4? Oh, it’s probably the number 4? Honestly I haven’t read hardly any of them. Don’t plan on starting either.

Take the system they give you, make it work for you. I don’t read the mnemonics, I cheat the radicals when they come up, I release the entire level of kanji in one block and let myself get them wrong for three days straight. Others release things 5 a day, try to keep their accuracy super high, etc. You’ll work out what works best for you.


Some mnenomics are far less than perfect, but studies on mnemonics show clearly that they work. I personally like to put my own twist on some. The crasser, the easier I remember them!

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:joy: agreed… I may even remember the 4 sided sheep!!!..

I just wish there was a short-cut to Grandma’s house - of Kanji :house: :fox_face:

ummmm… how do I ‘release’ a kanji?.. it must be right there in front of me? I haven’t seen that button… :sweat_smile:

That has to be the work of some kind of script. There’s no button to open up an entire level or unlock kanji.

I could definitely remember a four sided sheep, but easier just to learn to count to ten if you haven’t already and you won’t need any mnemonics for numbers. Whatever will work for you, as many others have said.

There aren’t a whole lot of gems, but big props to whoever at WK came up with this for “sake” (which I’ll now never forget):

You know who enjoyed sake a lot? Chewbacca (ちゅう). He was always drinking, which is concerning when you think about all the driving he did.


No no scripts, I just do the lessons for all the radicals and then do not do the kanji lessons until all the radicals are cleared. The lessons come in order of radical, kanji, vocab. I have 85 lessons waiting for me right now, and all the radicals for level 11 are already passed, so the next 38 things I learn will be all the kanji. They are all ‘unlocked and waiting for you in your lessons’. I will release them all at once later this week (do the lessons).

thing is, there are a lot of readings with し, and WK uses sheep for all of them. so perhaps four-sided sheep work for you (i’m seeing them as 4-sided dice now). or maybe it’s a flock of 4 sheep. or maybe there’s 4 sheep who secretly rule the world. or you can make up any other mnemonic, just as long as you keep the elements of 4 and sheep in there.

but if you don’t like the sheep, then you might be looking at replacing a lot of mnemonics. but that’s totally an option too.

myself, i change many (if not most) of the mnemonics. but the phonetic element (sheep for し) always stays the same. (and in the few cases i’ve changed the phonetic element, i’ve changed that consistently).

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Perhaps 4-sided sheep is hard to visualize? But perhaps it is much easier to think of a fun phrase? (So, only auditory imagination.)

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WaniKani mnemonics are often surrealistically absurd, but on the other hand this makes them fun and easy to memorize… The best approach to them is to stop thinking and just let them pass through. If a mnemonic stays – good. If not – create your own :slightly_smiling_face:

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