Moral support or guidance from experienced WaniKani users

By this I assume you’re referring to the mnemonics and not actually making up your own readings and meanings for kanji.

The mnemonics are strange because things that are weird, shocking, or novel tend to stand out in your memory better. Stories also help to make something more memorable. That being said, the best mnemonics are always going to be ones that you write yourself. Good luck with your studies!


I think the idea is that strange, random, and stupid things are also memorable.

Some of the most ridiculous mnemonics are the ones that have stuck the longest for me !

the mnemonics are also bound to be a bit weird in some cases - as they are constrained by the radicals.

You can of course think of your own more sensible options - i often do this when one really doesn’t stick.


Haha. I kind of like the idea of making up my own readings and meanings ! that would solve a lot of problems. What the hell - I might as well make the kanji up. :partying_face:


I think you need to figure out how you personally learn kanji and go from there. You need to figure out exactly what works for you and then apply it. For example, I never use the mnemonics. I read the story and then pick out the pieces of the radicals and create a short sentence that I can remember. This works for me, it may not work for you, but since I figured how it works for me it has made learning the kanji much easier.

Here is an example:

The horse who can write a paragraph gets to be a chess piece. Only the most erudite of horses gets selected to be a chess piece. The knight’s chess piece is represented by a horse, and for a horse to earn this honor, they must first write a paragraph explaining why they deserve the honor.

Upon being told that he will never be a chess piece, the horse slips into a coma (こま). The horse will never awaken from this coma as he knows he will never fulfill his dream of becoming a chess piece, so he has nothing to live for.

This is way too much information for me to find useful so I just condensed it to “The horse when into a coma when his paragraph to be a chess piece was denied”. This is easier for me and it combines the meaning and reading into one easier sentence to remember.

Another tip that will help is how much Japanese you are exposed to regularly or if you are learning how to write kanji as well. I think one of the problems with wanikani is it does not make every kanji a radical and sometimes the mnemonics are so similar because they use 3 of the same radicals and one different one. In these cases it is very helpful to just throw out the wanikani mnemonic and create your own using the kanji in place of the radicals.


Why not. Someone must have made them all up at some point anyways :woman_shrugging: Be an innovator!


The point is to be memorable, not “mature”. Whether a mnemonic is good or bad is a pretty subjective thing, and different people will remember different ones with different levels of success. But being silly or childish is not inherently relevant to whether they’re valuable or not.

Ideally you’ll only need to use the mnemonics the first few times you review a word. If you’re still using mnemonics by the time you’re burning, odds are it isn’t a word that’ll stick with you long term. They’re an important part of this service’s value add, but they’re by no means the only thing. What I found most valuable my first time through WK (I’ve reset to give it another whirl and see how much I remember) is the structured learning method, slick UI, and extensive customization options via user scripts.


This is a very helpful advice. A good way to create your own mnemonics is to always go with the first thing that comes to mind instead of trying to be clever. It’s both faster and easier, since you’re more likely to make the same mental connection the next time.


It’s not a bad thing for a mnemonic to sound stupid, in many cases it helps remembering it.

Personally I only learn the mnemonics when I start having a hard time with an item (otherwise there would be too many, and when I just remember the item in itself there’s no point learning the mnemonics on top of it). And in this case they do help a lot.

As for the stupid sentences, I don’t care that much, I just see them as a reading exercise, the more you read the more fluent your reading becomes. Usually out of the 3 sentences there’s one that’s overly complicated and weird and I will lack the grammar/vocab to understand it in Japanese, in which case it’s just a pure exercise of getting used to seeing long sentences and trying to separate each proposition inside it.

If you want to read actual beginner level Japanese you have many other options.

Edit: also, about the money you paid and the feeling that the material is sometimes poor, I think the added value of wanikani is 90% the huge work they did on ordering the radicals/kanji/vocabulary so that you can learn them in a way that is most efficient. The sentences are a small part of the value imho.


If anything, the mnemonics are too mature, so they end up just being weird stories that aren’t particularly memorable. Mnemonics from memes, dad jokes, or sexual stuff tend to be memorable because of how cringeworthy they are. My WK favorite is still “いずみ, Mario!” Mnemonics work better for me when they’re either super serious or completely stupid, and the simpler the better.

For example, what I wanted to use as a mnemonic for 白(はく)is
白 vs 百 = one stroke, haku vs hyaku = one letter.

But what actually stuck is 白な又た :man_shrugging:


I agree with others that you shouldn’t care about the mnemonic being stupid or childish. The only thing that matters is whether you remember it or not.
In that regard, with weird mnemonics, I have to actively commit them to memory. It might be psychological, but I feel that active memorization process helps. If a mnemonic makes complete sense, I tend to go “yeah, sure”, then immediately forget it.

In any case, the moment you’ll notice if a mnemonic is working or not is during reviews. If you draw a blank on an item and/or get it wrong, have a look at the mnemonic once the session is over. If you think it really won’t work for you, you can make your own or look one up online. There are multiple sites that provide mnemonics for kanji.

On the moral support front, I’m just going to say that you can definitely make it till the end if you just keep going regularly, mnemonics or not. (They do make the process smoother though)


And now I’m singing.
Ces mots signifient
Que tu vivras ta vie…
…Sans aucun soucis!
白な又た! :rofl:


Not all mnemonics will work for everyone. I’m mostly in the same boat as you, as most of the mnemonics presented are too nonsensical for me to remember. For example, 死’s mnemonic involves the Yakuza handing you a spoon meaning death is coming for you. My mind is too logical to comprend this in any meaningful way (unless it turned out that the Yakuza really does hand out a spoon to someone before a hit takes place).

I don’t consider this a weakness of WaniKani, however. I’m simply not going to get anything out of most of the supplied stories. So, I come up with my own, as best I can. And as @VictorLino said, take the first thing that comes to mind rather than trying to be clever, or you’ll have trouble figuring it out (or maybe even not remember it) next time.

I see the monetary worth of WaniKani in its organization of radicals, kanji, and vocabulary, and its pacing on teaching. I could probably get mostly the same out of an Anki deck, but I like most of what WaniKani has to offer.

I’m still at a low level, so I’m probably going to find myself in trouble later due to a lack of mnemonics for syllables in pronunciations. Right now I’m counting on being about 2,000 vocabulary words into iKnow to help me with pronunciations as I encounter vocabulary I already know in WaniKani lessons.


do … do people read the sentences?

I gave up on that ages ago.


Do you mean reading context sentence while learning vocab? I do. And I’m looking for more.

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I was smiling as I read that :slight_smile:, thanks for the encouragement

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Thank you all for the kind words of encouragement. Much appreciated :slight_smile:
Off to do some study!!!

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I can see how for someone of a certain disposition it would be a massive rage trigger being confronted with something nonsensical, puerile or just unrelatable when they already have learning-related frustration to deal with. I went through this too!

With lessons, if the mnemonics don’t hit the spot, I long ago accepted that WK can’t read my mind and create perfect mnemonics all of the time. They do their best and most of them are fine. I make a point of taking the time to invent my own because I know what I’ll remember. For instance, I know a bunch of Japanese words from being a sumo fan - WK as an SRS system doesn’t know or care that I like sumo, but it’s legitimate knowledge so I use it. I use WK’s mnemonics as a back-up or springboard if my imagination doesn’t come up with anything as good.

The emotional side is worth noting too - if I got too ticked off with reviewing, I step away and calm the heck down. Getting wound up and overwhelmed only makes it harder for me to remember things and trying to work through it is just inviting a positive feedback loop of frustration and memory failure.

Personally if I had a thought like “I paid so much for this, why is it not helping me more!” - what does that have to do with learning the material? So I have to put some more effort in. What am I going to do… not learn? I am brutally dismissive with those kinds of thoughts. They only serve to make me more frustrated and that doesn’t help me with learning.

Good luck!


I stopped reading the mnemonics at around level 5 and still reached 60 in ~1 year. The SRS will help you remember everything eventually.

My two biggest pieces of advice:

  1. Install this: [Userscript] Keisei 形声 Semantic-Phonetic Composition. It’s a massive shortcut for remembering tons of on’yomi readings that will A) render many mnemonics completely unnecessary (if you’re even using them) and B) allow you to oftentimes correctly guess on’yomi readings in kanji you’ve never even seen before, as long as there’s a phonetic component that you can recognize.
  2. Keep your review sessions short & sweet by showing up multiple times every single day. I usually do some reviews when I wake up, some during a lunch break, then again when I get home for the day, and once again before bed. That’s a minimum of 4 visits per day, all of which are pretty brief… and if I’ve had a busy day and missed the first 3 review sessions, the pileup waiting for me is still only a single day’s worth :wink:

I was very dubious about the value of using mnemonics to study anything. My feeling was, “Why should I first learn something that will remind me of the the thing I’m actually trying to memorize? Doesn’t that take twice as long?” But I decided to give it a shot, and much to my surprise I discovered that it works. For me the reason that it works is that my brain can remember little stories better than anything else. And it the little story is silly or weird, it sticks in my head even better. I also try to visualize the mnemonics because I’m a very visual learner. And when need be, I’ll add a personal touch to a few of them – so I like the ability to add notes.

I’m only on level 2, so maybe I’ll feel differently when I’m further along.


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