Lazy Mnemonics

Post any lazy/bad mnemonics examples you come across here.

“Remember tonari?”
No. No I don’t, Kouichi. The movie had an English translated title. I would have to either have been raised in Japan, in which case I wouldn’t need your app in the first place, or I would have to be a ghibli fanatic. I can’t imagine most of us are either of those.


The trick here (IMO) is you go look it up on youtube, read up a bit on it, and so on. Even if you didn’t know it before… now you do! It’s an associative memory. Another example of this is the mnemonic for 墓, which instructs you to go watch a video on the New Zealand All Blacks doing the Haka, and imagine them dancing on someone’s grave. Seems totally irrelevant, but it builds a surprisingly strong memory. So even if you don’t know となり, you do know “my neighbor totoro” very well, and you can use that existing memory in your mind to make it easier to remember “となり”.

Kanjidamage does a similar thing, where it links to videos about certain distinctive topics and names in order to build a stronger memory. I’ve also found it to be good with grammar points; sometimes I even wish for a “grammar dictionary” consisting entirely of anime characters dramatically yelling a sentence that used that grammar…


Most of my friends who don’t even study Japanese know the original name, so I don’t think it’s that uncommon. Not even Ghibli fanatics by any means. There’s also the song which I don’t know how it hasn’t become an earworm for you. Maybe the lazy one is you! ^^


Never seen a single Ghibli film. I’ve heard the English name before, but never the Japanese. Also, no idea what song you’re talking about.

old man rant


Yes, some mnemonics are definitely lazy or extremely culture specific (not necessarily Japanese culture). When I notice those I try to come up with my own.

I think this one is the worst I have seen so far:


I’ve seen the word Wagyu used at American fast food places. I don’t think you really need to know much of any Japanese culture for that one. :man_shrugging:

Not that I’d ever eat an $8-10 “wagyu” burger as it’s likely crap…


I gotta say, WaniKani’s mnemonics are often less than helpful, but if I can learn about a piece of Japanese media that has the word in its title, that’s usually easier for me to remember than this kind of “higher effort” thing.



Me neither have never really watched ghibli films, so that mnemonic would not have done anything for me either. I just already knew the word when I got to learn it here. But like @fioraaeterna said (eternal flower? Italian?) some of these you’ll just have to look up. Or just ignore, like I did with Hard Gay whenever that came up.

Bonus fact: the name Totoro came about because some kid would mispronounce となり all the time. Not sure if I heard it was actually the director/writer/somebody’s kid, or just the kid in the movie… I still haven’t watched it.

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The movie came out way before I was born, it’s not too far fetched I wouldn’t know it’s Japanese name. Especially in UK where I live, it’s cultural impact was pretty minimal. Foreign movies hardly get any coverage.


An equally cute fact is that while filming the movie Pacific Rim, a young japanese actress had difficulty pronouncing Guillermo Del Toro’s name, so he just gave her special permission to call him “Totoro” :slight_smile:.


Wow, people have different experiences from you! Shocking!!!


Seriously? Are you living under a rock?

Your incredulity demonstrates my point very well: this is a cultural reference only relevant within a very specific culture (subset of American culture where people are exposed to the restaurants that use that particular type of beef, I guess?). Despite having spent the last 11+ years in the US, I have not encountered the word more than a few times, and it never was important enough to even remember it. And I definitely haven’t ever encountered that word outside of the US.


Not a fan of fast food places or burgers, so not surprised I haven’t been exposed to this beef designation much.

More importantly though, the part “I hope you know [it], otherwise this will be a difficult one to learn” is the least helpful.


Ooo, ooo, this one:

“Eh, one of them is transitive. Who knows?”


For this one, I made up my own:

Since the kanji looks like a gun on a stand, the sound effect when the gun shoots the cow is ぎゅう

Hopefully this helps you memorize it better!


I’ve found my own mnemonics are even lazier. Since I know a lot of vocabulary already (just not the kanji), I will think “Oh that’s the ‘所 (しょ)’ in ‘場所 (ばしょ)’” or “That’s ‘楽 (らく)’ from ‘楽園 (らくえん)’” and oddly that helps sometimes more than the WK mnemonic. But I’m curious to know if people have any alternative mnemonics for the ones they find unhelpful?

Like for example the mnemonic for black 黒 (こく)… instead of “You’re in a completely black room. There’s no way out, and you can’t see. The room starts to fill with liquid. It gets in your mouth. You taste it. It’s Coke (こく)! Mm, tasty Coke.” I would’ve thought something that involves the radicals, like, you’re boiling a village… you’re COOKing it. Which isn’t as close to こく I guess, but it makes more sense to me. Though I think for the most part the WK mnemonics are fun and useful.


I think WaniKani assumes you have some knowledge of Japan and its culture.

Wagyu beef is pretty basic in terms of Japanese culture knowledge.


I don’t agree. I assume you heard about these passively, you didn’t go out of your way to look them up, right? That’s culture. You knew of them because they are or were topics of interest in your culture. Not everyone has the same culture as you do, so you can’t expect them to know everything that you do. That’s ridiculous.


Actually, they are topics of interest in THIS culture, Japanese culture, the one you are studying to understand the language of. I already knew the original name of Totoro because I was already into Japanese culture, animation and other things. I have the movie. I just needed to start learning the language.
If you don’t know these things, you probably should. Look them up in the internet. Find out what these things are. In the long run, it will be better for you since it is a part of the culture of Japanese, the thing you are learning. You would think you would have an interest in it?


That much is true, but they are new to this culture. I think if you are learning Japanese you will eventually learn about these things, as OP just did, but I think it’s too much to expect everyone to know it, and overreaching to say that they should already know it.