What kind of mnemonics works better for you

The mnemonics that work better for me are the ones in Japanese.

For example, instead of using Koichi (sorry) I have in my head a big family of words that are read こう with the on reading.
High, school, go, mouth, construction…

This does not work very often with the kun reading, but I already know it for many kanji since I am not new to learning Japanese.

Sometimes I break down a word I already know, like みんな, everybody… and I used it to learn the reading of 民. Peoples and everybody are similar concepts.

What methods do you find useful to build your own mnemonics?

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I would say but there are children watching…


I have found about three things work best for me:

  1. Weirdness. The weirder a mnemonic is, the easier it sticks in my head.
  2. People and faces. Not sure why, but these stick in my mind easier than inanimate things and even animals.
  3. Consistency. I try to keep the same mnemonics for kanji with the same readings

I’d say I use about 60-70% of the wanikani mnemonics and the rest being my own creation.

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Some mnemonics I made up are letters of a word. For instance, けい= KulEsİ or 毎= aim in scrambled order=mai
I know it is not easier but several reviews later, ( in the end ) it does not even matter.

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The ones that work best for me are the ones that work. Not meaning to be smart, just I don’t know what works, sometimes the oddest thing sticks and one I thought was great doesn’t.

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Regarding reading mnemonics, I often try to use simpler ones than what WaniKani provides, while also trying to be consistent. For example, I use the word “so” to remember these readings:
走 - He runs soo fast! 「そう」
想 - This concept is soo freakin’ deep, man! 「そう」

Sometimes I also mix in Czech language, since it is often easier to find (almost) perfect phonetic matches.
年 - Rok?! To ši děláš šrandu! (A year?! Are you kidding me?) - Said with a heavy lisp. “To ši” -> 「とし」

Regarding meaning mnemonics, I often ditch the mess of radicals completely and instead try to imagine a picture. My favorite example is “harbor”.
港 - The right part of the kanji looks kinda like a channel of water going towards a shrine in a distance. I imagine a city of holy fish, which boasts many shrines to the fish god. You can reach this wonderful, smelly place via many different channels, which all lead to an unbelievably huge HARBOR.



well, i think mnemonics that created accidentaly while reacting to wanikani mnemonics.
From memorys of mine past experiencieses.

yes, accidentaly ones. Created basically automatically.


Any premade mnemonic that doesn’t mention some famous person I don’t know works well enough for me. But I hate making mnemonics, so whenever one doesn’t work, I just rote memorize it, unless I see a very obvious way to remember it. It usually takes no longer than any other items to stick.

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The Koichi mnemonics are the best, I always remember them! Koichi loves plowing your field! It doesn’t even mean anything and I still remember it. I have more problems with けん/けい, えん/えい, and Charlie Sheen doesn’t mean much to me either.

But when you use the phonetic hints then remembering the readings gets very easy starting from level 20 maybe, I’m mainly busy remembering the exceptions, and Kun readings are not so nice.


This immediately came to mind:

“Imagine こういち writing a paragraph about geoducks. こういち looks very happy while he’s writing it. Perhaps, too happy…”

I think I’m never going to forget this one.

PS: 項

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The more horrifying, the more effective. If you can make yourself, even for a moment, feel genuine shock, disgust, or terror, the mnemonic will stick.

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I look at the kanji and its meaning, and without looking at the provided mnemonic try to make a story using the radicals and the meaning. Hopefully when I look at it later, if I’ve forgotten the meaning, I’ll be able to make the same story in my head.
Usually works. I try to keep it to one or two sentences.

I do it for the reading too, but usually after studying the kanji for awhile, when it comes up weeks later, if I remember the meaning, I’ll remember the reading as well and vice versa.

I find the most simplistic or logical work for me. Too much craziness just leads to ambiguity and puts doubt in my mind. That said there are opposites, connections that only occur in my head or are personal to me, kanji that remind me of something but I know are NOT it etc etc. It’s odd how the brain works and this has got me thinking even more. I also find it strange that I can ace a new kanji a few times then suddenly have no recollection of ever having seen it.

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I don’t even know if this would be considered a mnemonic, or just word association (which I guess is kind of what mnemonics are anyway). But I usually pick a word that I’m familiar with like “か"ぞく for 家, or かれ"し” for 氏.
If it’s a kanji where I can’t find any words that stick, I usually end up with a really random mnemonic, like 民 is a bird with a pompador that says みん.

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Mnemonics which I come up with myself are the best. Something that you custom make to work for you is always going to be better than a one-size-fits-all thing. Since I do a lot of amateur manga translating, I like to connect the readings and meanings to where I’ve seen the kanji before in manga. It’s worked very well so far.

However, I will echo the sentiment already expressed elsewhere that the Kouichi mnemonics are really good. I don’t even know why they work so well, but I never mess up on こう kanji. The Charlie Sheen mnemonics are pretty much exactly the opposite for me.

Unfortunately mnemonics have never really worked for me. The extreme ones I’ll remember themselves, but I won’t remember what part specifically from it I was supposed to remember. Logical ones will guide me to the answer for the first few times, but I’ll end up forgetting it along with the reading.

For me, I just take time for etymological research. If a kanji has a phonetic-semantic compound, I’ll never get it wrong, as I have a connection to simpler components and radicals since I have background in that, and I always look up the Chinese pronunciations that lead to the onyomi (though I never remember the Chinese pronunciations).

With that safety in effect, I can focus my efforts on remembering the oddballs with no or obscure readings. And, similar to mnemonic logic, I tend to remember those kanji because they are weird.

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I get it, that pretty much takes care of exceptions for me :smile:

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