Memory palace and your mnemonics

Konnichiha minnasan!

So, I have been skimming through the first levels and finally arriving at the 4th WaniKani level. :champagne:

Since I have reached the 4th level I have discovered that it can be pretty crushing, numbers-wise, to suddenly be bombarded with 100+ new items…

But then… a solution arrived and swept me from that place of fear and pressure.

I have always been intrigued and interested in the funny little thing that resides in our heads called the brain and specifically the memory part of it; because, what are we if not a collection of streaming memories, right?

So during my studies of how our memory works best, I have discovered an ancient technique called the memory palace, which is used by the best memory athletes along side with mnemonics. Ever since I have discovered that, my studying routing changed forever and my results in the university boomed from being an average student to receiving a letter of excellency both for completion of my first degree and for the beginning of my second (recently).

What is this madness? you might ask… Well… There is no magic and it’s extremely simple.

One of the biggest and most developed part of our brain is the memory region (or if you are a medical student - hippocampus) and one of its main functions during our early years as ancient creatures was navigation. We didn’t have to remember strange combination of kanjis to read because we couldn’t read. Nor did we have to memorize strange names for behaviours or how to solve a math problem. But we did have to remember how to go from point A to point B - only to find our cave once we get back instead of our neighbour.

So the theory states that one of the most developed part of our memory is navigation. Then, to increase the strength of connection between a bit of memory we receive, we need to “put it inside a location” first. Meaning, when I try to remember a mnemonic for a new Kanji, or anything in that regard, I stick it in a location that I have been in that is pre-determined for that thing. For example, my Kanji “cards” in my memory are located in my drawer inside my room next to my bed. The radicals are scattered on my bed and the vocabs are on my desk.

This is just one of the elements that goes into increasing the memory power. The second one is action , recognized persona , emotion

Each Kanji/ Radical/ Vocab/ Anything must do an action, be recognized and connected to an emotion. If there is no action there is lesser chance for me to remember that information when I try to extract it. Action must be personal and filled with emotion and connected to something else in our memory, so for example the Kanji for Past is located in my drawer (mind you) and this is my story:

I open the drawer to find the dirt in private and find masutatsu oyama (the one who invented KYOkushin) digging in his private dirt to bury the past - with tremendous fear I shut the drawer aaaaa)

There are many elements in remembering and improving your memory. These are just the basics ones, but I find them really helping in my journey and I urge you to use at least the mnemonics suggested by WaniKani and mix in the loci (location) to make it even stronger.

And don’t forget, minnasan, ganbatte kudasai!


Hi! Someone designed a game that uses this concept of a memory palace:

When I create my own mnemonics I try to go with the first thing that comes to mind. It’s not quite a memory palace but maybe a simplified version of it. It creates a road that I’m already familiar, so I can easily come back to. That is a tip that I read somewhere from memory master Mattias Ribbing.

It’s interesting that you mentioned the action, recognized person and emotion concepts. I hadn’t really given any thought about it, but it totally makes sense, as usually the best mnemonics happen go have at least one of these elements. So I’ll try to use that to my benefit too. Thanks!

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