WaniKani Mnemonics

Does anyone else find them quite ridicilous some of them?

Obviously you should be trying to make ur own mneumonics in my opinion, unless what they provide is a good one.

And im not trying to insult them by this btw or imply how bad their system is, im just genuenly wondering who came up with some of these mneumonics and why? Considering some other ones would be WAAAAAAAY WAY better and easier and logical.

Example to make a point:

WATER - SUI (Imagine a lake, then imagine a tree, then imagine a SUING (SWING) on a tree…)

Excuse me? But are you serious? Imagine a lake and a tree and a swing, for water? Are you for real?

Why not actually imagine SUI as in SWIM… you SWIM in water…

So yeah… alot of them are like this, I don’t get who came up with this when there are so much easier and logical ways.

In some ways, the ridiculousness of the mnemonics is half the point - the idea is that it makes them more memorable.

In this particular case, though, it’s more that WaniKani uses the same mnemonic word for each reading whenever it appears, regardless of what the kanji means - and for the reading すい, the mnemonic is “swing”.


Ironically the more ridiculous the story the better I remember


Ridiculousness is often the point. They are not unaware that you could make simpler mnemonics.

The more “storylike” mnemonics are, the better they tend to be remembered. Short phrases and whatnot often don’t get as strong of a foothold in memory.

“Easier” and “logical” aren’t exactly the goals in most of their mnemonics. They want the stories to be vivid.

But if that’s your goal for the mnemonics that work for you, go for it.

A thing like “SUI = swim” has no “vivid” imagery to it. You can get away with that here or there, though, I suppose.


This is something I wish I had known earlier, because I would have made fewer mnemonics of my own.

Having the same words for the same sounds has been super useful to me. It makes it so that sometimes I don’t even remember the ‘story’ of a kanji, but just that it, for example, has something to do with the shougun and therefore know its meaning (shougun -> shou).


Every time I tried learning kanji in the past with my own mnemonics (before I joined WK), I made them too short to be memorable over time – mostly just a keyword-efficient sentence because I really hated making my own. Which was kind of OK until I started mixing them all up… I tried memory palaces but that didn’t work out well for me either.

The WK mnemonics are silly but they do work much better for me – I mentally summarise them as I go along, to be able to remember the thing – but it works because it was a stupid little story before I did that, with familiar “characters” that make appearances across kanji with the same readings. :slight_smile:

P.S. Also mnemonics and not mneumonics :blush:

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Mneumonics are clearly pneumatic mnemonics.


Yeah, same. People can say all they want that complicated stories are more memorable. If that works for them, great. But I could never keep track of all the details in those complicated stories.

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Like mentioned, the mnemonics are consistent across sayings. So swing has to work not just for 水, but also for 睡, drowsy.

If they make sense, they aren’t memorable. Bow to the Crabigator and He shall alleviate any mnemonic frustrations.

For underwater, I inserted the reading into the chorus of this song and it worked for me!

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What frustrates me the most is things like this (only 2 levels in, so more frustrations are bound to appear I guess):

  1. When keywords for some readings are used in stories where they’re not part of the saying. Like the mnemonic for the kanji 入, which is something like “you enter a tent with a new car in it”. The “reading” is supposed to be “nyuu” (=new), but why CAR when car is used for “ka” in other readings? Very confusing. Why not use something like “flying broomstick” or something else absolutely bizarre but without any reading connected to it?

  2. When a series of words/kanji are very similar and the stories are also similar/arbitrary (with no specific connection to the word/kanji). First day -> tenth day (and all in between) are rather hard to keep apart since the stories don’t actually fixate on the number. Eighth day for example = eigth day is when you fill your car with YOUghurt. Bizarre and memorable mnemonic, but it’s not exactly easy to remember that it’s on the eigth day day I do that, and not on the ninth or tenth… That one is rather easy to remember, but some of the other stories for those numbered days are hard to keep apart since they, as I said, have no logical connection to the number of the day.

  3. When the suggested word doesn’t match for the reading. The suggested word to remember the reading “たま” for the kanji 玉 is “Tom”. This is more confusing than it is helpful, because “Tom” sounds more like “と” / “とむ”, and not “たま”

Of course any problem can be solved by using your own (for “nyuu” I just make something up about Elfen Lied, easy enough…), but I don’t think “make your own”/“it’s supposed to be like that” is a valid way to refute all criticism towards the mnemonics.

Well, there are schools of thought that say “make your own” is the only way to go about it, but yeah, you do make some good points. Using one reading’s mnemonic word in a sentence with another reading is not awesome (though the mnemonic you’re supposed to focus on is highlighted. And unfortinately, the readings that use “Tom” as a mnemonic are… rather diverse.

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I am a lazy person who doesn’t want to make my own mnemonics. That’s why I like WK because I could just memorise theirs and avoid too much overhead in my learning. Otherwise I would have to spend hours creating mnemonics before I can begin learning kanji.

Because I “bought” WK’s mnemonics, I will also have to accept that they are not custom-made for me. It’s something that works for the person(s) who created them, so the mnemonics will contain various references specific to their life experience.

If I don’t think those mnemonics work for me, then I have two choices. Either accept the mnemonics as they are, or create my own. So far I have never made my own (yes, I’m that lazy). But everything seems to have gone relatively well, learning-wise.


Same with me. I avoid making my own mnemonics as much as possible since it takes too much time. Even some of the less good ones I “accept”, at least for now, if they end up becoming problematic over time I’ll make my own to save time on the long-run.

My criticism is not based on a wish for the mnemonics to be custom made to me. I don’t mind references to some guy named Koichi, that’s fine. And some woman named Jo-anne, or Jourm, or the like. Almost all mnemonics are perfectly fine. My criticism is that some very small but important details could easily have been changed in some mnemonics to make these easier to remember and less confusing. Of course it “works” overall, but just because it is one way and to some extent “works” doesn’t mean everything is perfect/beyond improvement.

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I just came across the weirdest and funniest mnemonic today.

閣- The cabinet :
Reading Mnemonic
You need to kiss each member of the cabinet to gain access to their building. And you need to get into the building to recover your cock (かく). Your prize winning cock has been captured by a member of the cabinet and you need to infiltrate their headquarters and recover your rooster!
HINT: Imagine yourself sneaking past the cabinet members, finding your cock, grabbing it, and getting out of there. You’ve recovered your rooster! The day is won.

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