Personal mnemonics early on


I’m new to Wanikani (level 1), and I’m kind of reluctant to come up with my own mnemonics for kanji (meaning and reading).

I’m afraid that, down the line, more complex kanji will use the mnemonics of the basic ones I changed and it will hinder my progress.

Does this happen in later levels? Or am I safe to try and find my own stories?



I don’t have “the answer”, but will share an opinion.

Any mnemonic that helps you to remember a reading or a meaning is a ‘good’ mnemonic. To my thinking, whether it is a WK mnemonic or one that I came up with by myself matters little - rather what matters is whether you will be able to use it when you need to use it.

So, while I do use some of the WK mnemonics in some cases (“Koichi, that means you”), in many others I’ve found that my own ones are much more useful.


Make your own.

It’s much better to get 10 learned well using your own stuff at the risk of struggling with 1 or 2 down the line.

(plus it means you are lessed tied to WK if you don’t like it and want to use something else later on)


I personally ignore most of WK’s mnemonics unless I really can’t come up with anything myself. At any rate once you start familiarizing yourself with the various kanji you’ll forget the mnemonics. Like I remember that I actually used the “car” mnemonic for 下 early on, but I don’t actually need it anymore, I just see 下 and know that it’s カ (or sometimes ゲ…).

Personally I prefer to always use previous kanji to remember the new ones, because this way I practice two kanji at once. For for instance for 暇 or 可 which also have a カ reading I can come up with a story involving 下. I don’t remember if I did that however because I don’t remember the mnemonic I used for 暇 or 可, confirming what I said above about forgetting mnemonics…

Also as I progressed I found myself using phono-semantic composition more and more to guess and remember the readings of kanji, in which case I didn’t even need a mnemonic in the first place.

So in my experience I wouldn’t worry at all about it.


Mnemonics are overrated, your brain will come up with whatever makes sense down the line. Go with the program and then you’ll find that you’ll skip the mnemonics as time passes, simply because you won’t need it, it will make sense anyway. More or less didn’t bother to even read the mnemonics past level 20, finished in 14 months or something anyway.

Mnemonics can be helpful in the very beginning, but people put far too much weight into it, better to put more effort into immersion that alot of people neglect.


If you can make your own go for it!

I second this. After around level 10 I got used to the many shapes that make up kanji and while I’m not 100% aware all the time it becomes more obvious over time what you’re doing.

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I wouldn’t worry too much. Make up your own, use wanikani’s or a mix of the approaches. Whatever makes you remember stuff is good. Some people don’t use them at all, and most people will eventually forget them anyway once they start remembering the kanjis they were connected to instinctively without having to think about it.

I think it’s OK to change and revise mnemonics. Or create a weak one, just to throw it away, or re-create later. Forgetting is OK too.

Anyway, mnemonics is a last resort. Well, any memory trick that isn’t contextual in Japanese language. Recalling reading and listening experience comes first.

It happens, but you’ll still be okay if you just invent your own stories: the extra effort might make them better stick for you.

But, you’ll find that making mnemonics for all items on wanikani will take a lot of effort: so do make use of the mnemonics you do think works for you. They’re a great fallback option, ready to be used as is. :slight_smile:

Learning is a personal journey, so try to make wanikani suit your needs, rather than the other way around. :+1:

Thanks for all the feedback!

I think I’ll use my own stories when the proposed one doesn’t stick.
For instance, I found another mnemonic for the reading of 大. I kept answering じょう because I associated it with Jourm (they always stress he’s a big guy).