Mnemonics are often Useless - Need simplifying

I find it’s better not to get it right by guessing, especially after a certain point. If it’s one I don’t know, I try to guess something I KNOW it won’t be.

Well… not quite.
It is MRS. Chou, not Mr. Chou, although that could very well be Mrs. Chou’s husband!
This is more like it.
(No joke I just Google Image searched “angry Japanese lady” and used the clip art filter.)

add “uri geller” as a note

We weren’t thinking of him, but if that helps you remember it (or is just firmly stuck in your mind by now), then go with that! :wink:


I learn well when I am able to amass many connections about kanji character - which words it’s used in, what those words mean, where it’s used more frequently, where less.

For readings, many characters borrow readings from each other, like for example 健 that of course reads ‘ken’ because 建 reads ‘ken’, even if their meanings are unrelated - but no, Wanikani has to ignore all that, and instead supply a completely unrelated mnemonic for each reading.

For meanings, many kanji can be straightforwardly understood from their components - if those components are sensibly defined. WaniKani decided for 月 to always mean ‘moon’ as a radical, and never anything else. Surprise, in most kanji it’s actually a modification of 肉 - it’s used in so many kanji for body parts to indicate that we are talking about a body part, but all that is lost on the learner, because of course you have to remember a story with a moon in it instead. Same with 貝 - yeah, sure, it’s a clam, but did WaniKani mention anywhere that those have been originally briefly used as money back in the days when they were creating kanji in China, because clams were quite hard to fake? Clams didn’t last as money, but most of the kanji that have anything to do with finances, savings, money have a clam in them. But sure, please do learn stories about talking clams instead…

Ok, I could go on, but I guess it’s better to just say - mnemonics are all fine, even if not for everyone. But I think there is a lot of quite valuable connections that are being missed, and could be there instead, or at least in addition to random mnemonics.


I completely agree. My subscription is ending soon and I think what I’m most going to miss is @acm2010’s script.

This is one of the few times a topic is posted about this that asks us for our thoughts instead of making sweeping generalizations and insulting the system. Yes, this topic has been hashed several times, but nonetheless, thank you for being thoughtful in your phrasing

Personally, I stay away form mnemonics unless absolutely necessary. Or I make up shorter ones that don’t go off on what, I feel, are ridiculous tangents. Seems to me that some make a sweeping generalization that most people don’t find the mnemonics useless. On my end, I have absolutely no idea what the general feel is. I know that some people are very vocal on both ends and that neither side necessarily represents what “most people” feel about the site.

Fortunately, to satisfy both sides of the argument (somewhat), we have the ability to add our own notes.

To me, the strength of WK is not, at all, the mnemonics, but the SRS.


The mnemonics rarely, if ever, stick in my head unless they are for radicals. What helps me most is if I already know a word using that character, and use that to remember the onyomi reading

1 Like

That’s actually one of the more vivid ones for me…seeing Charlie Sheen’s face on the windshield after I hit him looking at me like “Why didn’t you stop?! I told you to stop!”

Sometimes you can make your own too. I didn’t like the one for plate’s reading, which is “sara”. After failing it a couple times, I conjured an image of Roseanne’s kitchen where she laughingly, mockingly tells Darlene it’s her turn to do the dishes (plates)…Darlene being played by Sara Gilbert. Convoluted? Maybe, but it works for me.

1 Like

Oh yeah! South Park characters go hand by hand with lots of my alternate version mnemonics: Kenny (けん) , Kyle (かい), Cartman (か) and Mr Chou are making those kanjis stick :muscle::muscle:


I have the same issue someone else mentioned further up the thread - I have aphantasia, and my autism means I don’t always process things the same way. So leaning into the visual is useless to me. I use the note feature a lot to write my own mnemonics.

I do usually read the WK mnemonics. Ironically, there are times that I remember the WK mnemonic because I thought it wouldn’t be a useful one at all. “Oh, that’s so stupid.” I won’t remember the WK mnemonic directly, but I remember thinking it was foolish, then remember their mnemonic and get to what I’m trying to recall. Sometimes it’s my “derision” (for want of a better term) that is cemented in my memory, and then it ends up helping anyway.

I can see how they’re not for everyone, but since it’s impossible to craft a learning tool that’s perfectly optimized for every conceivable person, I think they went with the best solutions; include mnemonics in case they help - let users skip over them if they want - and provide a way for users to input their own notes.


I think this is the important thing to remember. For a lot of people having very dramatic, interesting stories helps. I do think that it wasn’t a very good idea for them to use pop culture figures like others have mentioned, though, as that means that you are further narrowing the number of people they will be useful for.

Personally, sometimes I use the ones they give if I’m having trouble thinking of my own, but usually I make my own because I think I am more likely to remember them if they are personal to me, or based on the first ideas that automatically pop into my mind when I see the radicals together.

Oh, and one other thing that seems a bit odd about some of the mnemonics given, is how you might learn a kanji that is made up of two different kanji that you’ve already learned , but instead of using those kanji in the mnemonic, they’re broken back down in the radicals to make a more complicated story, which seems a bit silly to me, and honestly a bit of a wasted opportunity to reinforce the previous kanji.

So yeah, there are a few things that I think could probably use some improvement, but at the end of the day everyone is different and it would be impossible to make mnemonics that are right for everyone.

1 Like

I honestly think that man and other generics are better than something like manatee. Like, the man had ten thousand swords/leaves. Who agrees?

Sometimes they just assign the radical its meaning in Japanese. People usually complain about it being the opposite, when they have “fake” names and not their Japanese meanings.

1 Like

Oh my god I am literally doing my reviews and came across THIS EXACT KANJI and I’m like"omg I have to post in the community!" so here I am. and now I’m ranting and I should probably stop now but if this was the real life I wouldn’t but since it’s just online I will. Okay, back to my reviews! :smiley: 36%20PM

1 Like

I think that would be a very inspiring book! :smiley:

1 Like

Seriously? This is a context sentence?

Don’t you think my kid looks similar to Beyoncé?

What’s wrong with it?

1 Like

I dunno, it just seems that people want to be like Beyoncé and I don’t understand why.

Because she’s a beautiful, rich, talented, famous person?