Mnemonic Gestures

Does anyone use gestures to help them remember kanji or words?

It seems it’s not a new idea, but I see it last brought up in 2015

Some of my favorites that I do/used to do (no longer do as the words are committed to memory) are za hando for 割引(わりびき), finger gun with my right hand and my left hand gently facing it to make the center of (いき), a grabby/jellyfish movement for (ひろ)

So do you use gestures? If so, what?


I can’t say I do, but this ties into the pedagogical concept that movement or physical action helps us retain information. It’s part of the idea that different people might benefit more or less from ways of learning, putting emphasis on sound, visuals, physical action and so forth.

I personally get a very deep connection to knowledge that I have some kind of physical activity to. But, it can be much more abstract and doesn’t have to be specific. So, any movement will do.

Handwriting is more effective to memorize information than typing on a keyboard, as it takes more physical effort and time to complete. And if I get a bit creative with how I take my notes, it’s even more effective.

But, time is often lacking…and the will to make the effort. So, lazi option is what I often go for. :joy:


I don’t really have specific mnemonic gestures, but I do sorta act out the kanji/vocab with my hands if I’m having issues with remembering, especially with transitive/intransitive pairs. Sometimes I’ll encounter a vocab word and I can’t remember the exact English for it but I remember the general concept of it. That will trigger my hands flailing around like a mini play of the action above my keyboard until my brain catches back up and remembers the answer. My most recent instance of this was 退ける.

Although I do also talk with big sweeping motions of my hands normally, so I’m not sure if this is a learning-Japanese quirk or just me being normal :woman_shrugging:


I get what you’re saying. That makes a lot of sense.

I think in conversation in Japanese, I’m much less animated than in English, unless I’m trying to think of a word and failing lol. I think it’s something that probably varies a lot from person to person.

How does za hando relate to the reading or meaning of 割引?

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I’d love to observe you read.

What I expect to see:
6230617a2d8a0c401f7cdcbb6d34bcc5e48c9e5d_hq (1)


No hands but I sometimes ask my dd or dw to generate a mnemonic for me. It’s the randomness that usually makes it work for me !! Occasionally this method bombs and we have a good laugh about the failure. :smiley:

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I only used it for this series but I haven’t gotten them wrong ever:

  1. Say 上がる
  2. Stand up.
  3. Say 上げる
  4. Raise your right hand.
  5. Say 下がる
  6. Sit down.
  7. Say 下げる
  8. Lower your right hand.

Repeat this a few times and it should stick. Feeling silly while doing it will also help it stick. As will saying it in a sing-song voice. Preferably to the tune of Yakko’s World.


Sorry, I’m on mobile but it’s the swiping motion around the :16 mark.

Za Hando is a five finger discount in the fabric of space


Lmao, it’s only when I don’t remember a word well though. It happens less often than you’d think. Like if I’m doing a set of 50 reviews, maybe 2-3 times.

域 does straight up look like some ninja bs though :joy:

What do dd and dw stand for?? It sounds like a fun way to involve others in your learning though!

Nice, that seems like a great way to help yourself memorize if they’re transitive or intransitive too!

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i definitely use gestures in my mnemonics. just gives my brain an extra thing to hook up context and help remember things ^^

i don’t actually have to repeat them more than a few times, then they just become part of the mnemonic, even if i only think about the movement. and then eventually the mnemonic just fades away ^^

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Sat at my computer like a maniac today trying to remember the reading of ()く while I pretend stabbed my work computer.

it’s fine
I’m fine

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Actually not for kanji but I always point to my toe when I’m trying to remember the particle usage for と


Reminded myself of this thread when trying to remember the English for 脱線(だっせん). Kept flipping my hand like the two person hand slap game lol

I’m finding that it’s usually just the vowels and not the consonants that I often forget when I get a kanji/vocab reading wrong. I’m thinking of trying to incorporate spatial positioning that reflects vowel position in the mouth into my gestures.
I already do chops for syllables. I haven’t really been able to incorporate long vowels well into that though. Maybe I could try a pinch gesture?