Mnemonics for unusual kanji readings in vocabulary

I almost never find WK’s mnemonics for alternative kanji readings helpful because I prefer to learn the word as one unit. Wouldn’t it be better if the mnemonics covered the entire word?

Take the example of 大事:

I don’t find it helpful to remember だい, I should be remembering だいじ instead. So I’ll try this mnemonic instead: a digest is a collection of important articles.

Another example:

Here one might imagine a scene of receiving something and thinking: “Thank you for bestowing it onto me! You care!”

What do you think?


Its a good prospect, however i believe the method of remembering differs from one person to another. I always try to come up with my own mnemonic because it will be easier for me to remember. I just use the one supplied as the base and build on top of it.


I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Should note that a lot of 大 vocab mnemonics do use the whole word for the mnemonic, like 大学: “Your university is best known for its dye gawking…” or 大会: “Did you know that Japan has entire conventions on tie kayaking…”. I’m not really sure why this one doesn’t.

Also the う reading for 受 will show up in other places, 受かる and 受付 specifically. So it’s not really an exception, just the kun’yomi. If the う mnemonic is helpful to you, then it’ll be useful for those words as well.

That being said I don’t really find either of these mnemonics very helpful. I’m gonna forget whether it’s だい or たい regardless. (side note: 19 大 vocab items use たい and 34 use だい of 70 total 大 vocab items. So たい is actually the more unusual one) The mnemonic I usually use is to think of any たい vocab as being “weird” in some way, like for 大敵 I just think of my arch enemy being a big weirdo like Voldo from Soul Caliber. Then I just assume all the other words are だい.

I think the mnemonics you make yourself are the one’s that stick the best anyway. So WaniKani could change these around, but it’s also a good idea to make your own even if they don’t.


Interestingly, for me it’s the opposite! I prefer someone else to tell me a story rather than inventing one myself, because it somehow feels more real. Even if someone tells me some crazy story about a mage turning me into a hen, I think: “well, they know what they are saying!” And it’s more believable to me than if I come up with it myself.


I’ve found that the piecemeal mnemonics work great for me for recognition, but are bad for production when I’m doing kaniwani for the reverse.

That’s why I find myself creating mnemonics for the full words too and also have thought it would be nice for them to cover the entire word.

I suppose that’s sort of expected since WK focuses solely on recognition though.


At the end of the day it depends on whether the wanikani mnemonic of choice clicks with you or not. And yeah, with rare readings making your own mnemonic is way more helpful at times, since the random not recurring wanikani ones lack the hook that make their mnemonics useful.
If the sound of a particular vocab is an actual word/phrase in another language I know I’ll use that for my own mnemonic, which makes the mnemonic more potent - it’s more personal which makes it more memorable.

I use any language I know if the existing suggestion don’t work including Japanese(Sometimes the absurd part is the fact that I use korean which I’ve never learned, but I’ve watched so much Korean content over the past few years some words stack, and their meaning is the complete opposite of Japanese ones… like 争う which from what I understand is a phrase in Korean that means something on the line of ok/understood/I know while in japanese it means to argue…).
The point of mnemonics as a memorizing aid is that it resonates with the person using it, that’s the only rule, if wanikani does even 50% of the work for me (probably closer to 70%) it’s worth it.

And of course writing/reading about it here always helps, especially writing and discussing it.
Your posts did help me with some 2nd guru master items “I read about it the other day”. So keep it up ٩(^‿^)۶


In general it’s a pretty good idea, but also 大事 is such a common word that you will learn its complete reading faster than you might think :slight_smile:

I would say mnemonics, even for complete words, would be more useful for words which are less common, but still relevant or rare words which you really would like to remember.


Thank you, this makes me happy :blush:

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You’re welcome.
I believe this is what the forum was made for, and it’s important to encourage people to use it for this kind of questions even if some of them were discussed before, active learning is part of the process.


As in the following case as well, but then the author apologises for doing it the right way :wink:

Yes and I also think the mnemonic should always include the on’yomi + kun’yomi in one visual whenever possible, and that the kun’yomi should come 2nd.
For example, walk is ho and aru, so:
You walk, step on the hoe, it hits your eye, you scrunch that eye shut then say “aru” like a one-eyed pirate.