Remembering mnemonics in the long run a priority?

Hello all!

As I am getting closer to level 20 I have noticed I tend to forget the mnemonics of kanji typically when reaching enlightened or burned. I do still remember the meaning and the reading, but I’m wondering if I should put more effort into remembering the mnemonics as well to retain the kanjis better? I suppose this does not really matter, but would be none the less curious to hear more advanced peoples experiences to not run into regrets later on. :slight_smile:


That’s pretty much the goal, isn’t it? Use mnemonics to aid your short term memory and have them fade once the important information is in your long term memory. At least that’s how it’s been working for me, no regrets yet.


Seems to me the goal is to associate the kanji with a Japanese word that represents a concept in the real world, not with an English word, and even less with a particular English-language story.


Mnemonics are kind of like scaffolding. They help you build something, in this case knowledge, and eventually they fall away. The kanji you know best are the ones where you just look at it and immediately know the reading and what it means, and haven’t had to think about the mnemonic in so long you don’t remember it anymore, just the mental connection it helped you build.


You should forget the mnemonics eventually but remembering the meaning and readings is all that really matters. Heck, even the meanings aren’t 100% essential because they are an estimation of the English equivalent. I don’t remember mnemonics unless its a new word. I actually forget them around Guru or master because I just need them for the initial learning. Once I get the readings and meaning in my head I stop trying to remember mnemonics.

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Another thing that may be have importance, but probably not to everybody, is the actual shape of the Kanji; and eventual differentiation between similar looking ones. Mnemonic may help with that, but that’s not the only way. Handwriting works too. Also, personally created mnemonics may work better, while not digressing into English.


When my 書道 teacher taught me shapes that kanji have that was a game changer. Like diamond shaped, square, etc.

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On the other hand, I will sometimes see a character or vocabulary word for one of its later reviews and draw a complete blank, as if I’d never seen it before. Being able to rebuild the meaning by assembling the mnemonic from the component parts is useful. But not needing to do that is better.


Actually, sometimes I recall Kanji reading from some parts of the Kanji first, then recall what the whole vocab reading means. Not necessarily that I remember the Kanji.

Practically, it’s better to eventually shift to reading first.

Though, another route is recalling the Kanji meaning first, then guessing the vocabulary, having such concept, from Okurigana (if present).

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That’s really interesting, I never thought about the shapes like that. I suppose you’d have to study calligraphy to really get it though.

It helps with guided instruction. Unfortunately idk what you search in Japanese to find what I’m talking about.

I can safely say I have no clue what mnemonics I used to learn hiragana or my first kanji. The odd mnemonic here and there sticks around because it’s just so iconic to my brain, but they’re more of an afterthought. いぬ is as ‘dog’ to me as “dog”. No “いぬ => mnemonic => dog” conversion happening in my brain. Just いぬ, and my head is filled with dog imagery. With enough practice that will happen with everything you learn, no matter how much you struggle with it to begin with.

Well okay not every word will remind you of dogs, or at least I hope not, that would be very inconvenient. Not that you wouldn’t want to think about dogs but- okay you get what I mean


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