Weird way of memorising stuff could be detrimental in the long run?

Today while doing KaniWani reviews I became aware of a really weird way in which I was memorising similar vocab:

  • For上げる and 上がる: I remember that the “to raise” lesson came before the “to rise”, and that the readings did not come alphabetically ascending (“ge” came before “ga”). Then, by remembering those two orders, I associate the the reading with the meaning.

  • Same thing for 下がる and 下げる: I can remember that the lessons came alphabetically ascending, and that “to fall” came before “to lower”.

  • Same also for 止まる and 止める.

I don’t understand why my brain can remember the order in which those things came but is not able to learn each vocab individually which is much simpler…

Another thing I started doing is associating one vocab I have trouble remebering with one I can always remember, like:

  • I can always remember 写す (うつす/to copy, photograph), but never 打つ (うつ/to hit), so what I do is: “Someone photographed me without my permission, so I got angry and hit them”, because the reading of “to hit” is within the reading of “to photograph”.

What I’m worried about is that I’m setting up a trap for future me. That maybe all those “indirect” ways of memorising are only working now because I’m at level 5, but maybe when I get to level 20 or something it’s just gonna get confusing and I’m gonna “unlearn”.

It’s also very annoying to not be able to remember the reading/meaning upon seeing the kanji. That indirect thinking takes more time then when I have an easy mnemonic, and that makes me really frustrated with myself…

Any thoughts? Does someone also do this?


I am forever equating words with the same readings as mnemonics. A rule® is one foot long. そく. Etc.

Lots of weird ways to learn. Lots of weird brains. So what?


I thought I was the only one who did this, can’t seem to remember them individually. I figure that I will eventually learn them on their own through repetition so I don’t see an issue with learning this way right now.


Hmmmmm, maybe I’ll start organising everything I’ve learned so far in a spredsheet so that I can sort them by similar readings and try to make a poem or something with all the meanings :stuck_out_tongue:

Could be fun :thinking:

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Hopefully, yeah

But some of those were introduced in level 1, and I still have to think of the orders in order to remember them :slightly_frowning_face:

When you encounter them in the wild, while reading or listening, you’ll eventually get them straight, is what I’d say. A lot of the words on WaniKani were in some sort of Schroedinger’s state in my head where it’s not exactly clear which is which, but as soon as I started encountering them in the books I’m reading, it’s like something clicks and they suddenly make sense.


Remember them on Wanikani however works for you and don’t sweat it. Though language study outside of Wanikani will help quite a bit with patterns for sorting transitives and intransitives. (あ sounds are generally intransitive, え sounds transitive; る endings generally intransitive when there’s a す counterpart, and す transitive. Though there are several exceptions.)

It doesn’t really matter what you do in the short term, though, or what kind of strange personal mnemonics you’re using. When you start encountering them in the wild, you’ll eventually cut out the need for that mental bridge. And encountering them in the wild is a necessity for long term retention anyway, so you don’t have a choice but to do it at some point.

6 Likes下がる_and_下げる/e5x90o0/

This little comment should be read by everyone, after reading it one can get these pairings right 90% of the time.


I tried NHK news easy but it felt too advanced, so I thought “If I can’t read that, maybe I should build up more vocabulary first”.

But maybe what I need to do is find something easier to read!

I’m not sure if anybody else has the same experience as me but I find that after I’ve answered them correctly a few times I start to forget the mnemonic. I just recognise the kanji from answering it correct previously.

Sometimes I get demoralised on a particularly difficult kanji because it can take me ages to break down it down to figure out the meaning which would be completely unrealistic in a conversation. But I just remind myself that if I repeat this long process enough times eventually I don’t need it at all. For me, I wouldn’t worry if you’re memorising them in a strange way: as long as you’re finding a way to get the answers correct they’ll eventually become automatic.

(I’ve also just this minute only just hit level 7 so take what I say with a pinch of salt :smiley: )


(あ sounds are generally intransitive, え sounds transitive; る endings generally intransitive when there’s a す counterpart, and す transitive. Though there are several exceptions.)

Wow, that’s really helpful! I guess I’m really behind in my grammar studies, this seems like it should be common knowledge… Thank you!

I guess I need to find something at the level of children’s books to read, but that has kanji in it.

Thanks for the link!

Is this subreddit any good? I usually stay away from reddit, as it can be a little toxic sometimes…

:thinking: Well, I learned a lot of things from there. As expected of reddit, some threads sometimes get toxic, but honestly, it’s not as bad as other subs. They have a weekly “ask anything” thread called “Shitsumonday” where people ask small questions and get (sometimes) smart and easy to understand answers. Sometimes you get wrong answers, but people who know better are quick to call those out so all in all, the quality is good.

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I find that if it’s a mnemonic I created, it always stays with me, even after answering it right several times. However, if I knew the word before the Wanikani lesson was given, I just don’t need the mnemonic at all.

Sometimes I get demoralised on a particularly difficult kanji because it can take me ages to break down it down to figure out the meaning

It feels so good though when you think really hard and eventually get it right! I’m trying to be a little more persistent in my reviews. Before, if I didn’t remember the meaning/reading fast enought, I’d just type whatever and move on to the next. But if I really take my time I’ve found that I’m usually able to recall the answer, and that’s better even if it takes a long time.

And congrats on leveling up!!! :confetti_ball: :tada: :tada:

Thank you! :smiley:

Yeah, I must admit I’ve seen that approach a few times in the forum and for me personally I really don’t think that would be effective. It’s intangible but when I take my time and focus on the imagery it really feels like I’m forming more long term memories. That may just be superstition but it seems to be working for me so far :smiley:

It does occasionally create a bit of a danger zone though, usually around some time in Guru, when I’ve completely forgotten the mnemonic by now but I also don’t recognise the Kanji. At that point I’m screwed because I’m suddenly looking at alien characters again with no way of reverse engineering it. But that doesn’t happen often at all, maybe 1 or 2 per level, and I guess the system works because at that point I need it resetting to apprentice which is exactly what happens!

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I figured that the mnemonics that WaniKani provides are just suggestions, and you’re free to make up your own mnemonics if you want (there’s a ‘notes’ section for you to put them into and everything!).

For instance, for 上がる and 上げる I set up a fictional scenario where I walk into a puppet show and see the puppet show sun 上がる, but then I walk behind the curtain and I can see a guy manipulating the strings, 上げる-ing it.


I’ve noticed the notes section, but am just too lazy to use it :see_no_evil:

It’s very interesting seeing how other people think! I’d be great fun if WK had some kind of weekly contest for people to submit their own mnemonics. There could be different awards, like the funniest, the wittiest, etc. :stuck_out_tongue:

It does not matter which weird way you use because in the end, when you really memorize it, you will forget the story that you told to remember…

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Just a warning- the transitive vs intransitive verb pattern is highly irregular and those suggestions/rules of thumb on the reddit thread (e.g. ~える sounds are transitive) are really not universal, e.g. 抜ける (nukeru) and 焼ける (yakeru) are intransitive. I’ve found the eru “rule” to really mess me up, personally.

I often find that a mnemonic that worked early on doesn’t work later, once I’ve learned a new word or kanji that doesn’t follow the earlier pattern. But I think that’s ok. My advice is the same as most on the thread-- to do what works short term and then just read, sing, watch anime, etc. Words will settle in. Though having said that, I still struggle when speaking with transitive and intransitive. Practice, practice, practice…

And finally- for those on the early levels- it will be hard to find something to read. Children’s books are full of weird vocab. Leveled readers for language learners are probably best. The Genki textbook has some reading sections that are level appropriate, for example.

I think there is some good advice on Wanikani to wait until you are high enough in levels to try to read a lot of “real” Japanese. It’s amazing how easy NHK Easy really does become at a certain point. I’ve now picked up manga I struggled to read in the level 20’s and breezed through them (comparatively!) now. Until you have enough kanji under your belt, it make make sense to focus more on grammar, conversation, listening comprehension, etc. That is time well spent, regardless of level. Reading will be much easier later, and may be an exercise in frustration in the beginning.


To be fair, only in the example they gave it was transitive. The rule they mentioned was that the -eru verbs have opposite transitivity to their pair, in this case the pairs are 抜く・抜ける and 焼く・焼ける so the rule applies.

From the thread:

Most verbs that end in ~える sounds (like げる in 上げる) are merely flipping the transitivity of their paired verb. 上がる is intransitive, therefore 上げる must be transitive in this example.