Mnemonics, anyone?

not for me, thanks! on a whim I decided to do wanikani pure, ie by rote memorization. I think mnemonics are great for generally remembering things, but my goal is fluent Japanese—therefore I shouldn’t have to remember why 大根 means big root (daikon), I should just know it.

it’s definitely slower than using mnemonics, but I’m starting to catch myself reading headlines and packaging etc without thinking about it, which is pretty wild! I have a ton of work to do in grammar and pronunciation, but the idea is to build an innate vocabulary that doesn’t require any brainpower to recall terms. does anyone have thoughts on this? :bowing_man::bowing_man::bowing_man:


That’s how Wanikani works too. The mnemonics are there to get you through Apprentice and Guru. By the time you’re seeing an item in Master and beyond, you shouldn’t need the mnemonics.

At least, that’s how it was for me. I barely remember the mnemonics for words I know now, I just remember the words themselves.

I found it much easier than rote memorization, but if that works for you, then 頑張りでしょう :wink::smiley:


that’s fair! I’m definitely taking the process easy, no speed runs here :upside_down_face:

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My usual process when learning a new item is to check first if I can intuit the meaning and pronunciation (like if I recognize the kanji from a word I’m already aware of, for example.) If I can, I typically don’t bother looking at the mnemonics at all, but that doesn’t cover a lot of items. The mnemonics have been really helpful for stuff that’s completely new to me, but I have found that the more I level up a character, the less I need to think about the mnemonics


Come on, you’ve never used the “I before E, except after C” rhyme? You don’t hear the ABCs in song form in your mind when you’re trying to order some papers alphabetically? Oscar Has A Hatful Of Apples for sin/cos/tan? Everyone uses mnemonics, they’re a powerful learning tool. It’s not a weakness, it’s being smart. Nobody is reading Japanese sentences with all the mnemonics flashing through their minds at high speed, but they are useful to jog your memory when you’re stuck on one.

tl;dr - I think you’re being over-extreme there, to your own disadvantage. But whatever makes you happy.

Try KaniWani, and try to draw the kanji from memory. I bet you need the mnemonics. :wink:


they confuse me! I definitely have the ABCs song, but I find the memorization helpful on its own (over time of course). with thousands of vocab to learn, learning meanings + mnemonics is a lot

and yeah recall vs recognition is the next big step, writing kanji can be pretty challenging :sob:

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Well yeah, and also learning a bunch of arbitrary facts with no linkages to other things in your mind is 10x a lot. We have associative memories, and I think you’re going to hit a wall of how many things you can remember at once - Unless you link them some other way like reading a lot–the best way to make them stick is frequent usage. Most people find the SRS intervals and context-free nature of the review questions means you’ll start forgetting a lot of them.

But you know, people are different. If it works for you, do it. :+1:

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Sydney Opera House Cost Altogether Higher Than Originally Anticipated.


More? Is the for the Mypotenuse?

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*Cough* I have no idea what you’re talking about.


I would say mnemonics are not the only way to go about it. If you find words that define the meaning of a kanji, you will learn the meaning of the kanji instinctively through context and since you already have context and words, you’re one step ahead.

Also, short mnemonics to me at least are useful. Long story mnemonics not as much, because I spend extra time trying to understand the mnemonic and that’s counterproductive.

Not quite sure how that works even :sweat_smile:. I just remembered sin/cos/tan.

Edit: Also, unique sounds are useful if you have a strong echoic memory and may not require additional mnemonic aides.


I agree, shorter mnemonics make more sense. the weirder ones definitely stick in the mind, but then I find myself thinking about them rather than the term itself haha

I’ve definitely found vocab working wonders in overall comprehension, and as I learn more I find it easier to remember terms. I guess it all builds on itself


It’s to remember the ratios.

sin = Opposite/Hypotenuse
cos = Adjacent/Hypotenuse
tan = Opposite/Adjacent

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Oh… Yeah, no way I would be able to use that :sweat_smile:

Funnily enough, for that I just used synopp, co-ajj, and tan seemed so obvious I never even bothered. :joy:


It’s for y-your pot in use.

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I have a poor memory (not necessarily making new memories, but certainly accessing them - and accessing the correct ones - especially on demand), so for the most part the mnemonics are just… too much for me to memorize. I’ll look at the ones for items I don’t know, but I just end up forgetting them before the 4-hr review rolls around - or, worse, I’ll remember it but though I thought it made sense when I first saw it, I get it confused and remember the wrong word from it as the meaning. I’m more likely to remember the meaning/reading than I am the mnemonic. The only one that’s actually stuck is “long arms for long swords - that’s a samurai!” for 士 vs. 土. Even trying to come up with my own mnemonics, I just forget them.

For me, too, it’s better to do rote memorization. I repeat it enough, get it wrong enough, check the meanings every time I review it if I’m iffy whether I got it wrong or not, am exposed to the meanings/readings of the kanji enough times through the vocab, come across the vocab in the wild while reading (I had so much trouble remembering 発表 means “announcement” even trying to find a different way to remember it from WK’s mnemonic until I came across it in よつばと! the other day - haven’t gotten it wrong since), etc… I’ll get it. I’m just not wired to be able to use mnemonics for everything. Not everyone is. Just because they help some or even a lot of people doesn’t mean they’re helpful for everyone, and you’re not overreacting or being dumb or whatever for forgoing them (-side-eyes some users on here-)


100%, I’ve found that after enough repetition some words finally click. 発表 gave me trouble too, and all the words that are super similar like 出す / 出る etc

I definitely need to read more, I think usage is the main thing that helps with building vocab. I’ll check out よつばと!

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Do they not teach soh-cah-toa for sin/cos/tan? I must be old or something lol (this is from the 90s and in Canada).

I tried not using mnemonics for the first few levels because thinking up mnemonics sounded like more effort. Eventually started using personalized mnemonics and it has been easier for me to retain the kanji. Eventually, once i see the word often enough, the mnemonics kind of just fade away unless it is something I get stuck on. By the time the vocab comes around, i didn’t need mnemonics for a lot of it.

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