Kanji Hacks 漢字の覚え方

How to memorize kanji so they stick

大(おお、おお·きい、ダイ、タイ)

Meaning: big

My hack: It looks like a person with arms spread wide, like Hiro Nakamura yelling “yatta!”

Side note: Someone in my mom’s office marked her soda can with a K for her name, but when you looked at it sideways it looked like this kanji. Her Japanese co-worker asked her why her soda said “big” on it.

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February 28, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

夕(ゆう、セキ)

Meaning: evening

My hack: The best I can do is imagine that this looks vaguely like a lapel on men’s evening wear.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

Review just before sleeping

Your brain learns during sleep, so if you review your kanji just before you go to bed or take a nap, you will also be reviewing them in your sleep.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Memorization tips | Leave a comment

土(つち、ド、ト)

Meaning: earth, dirt, ground

My hack: it’s a sign stuck in the ground.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | 1 Comment

口(くち、コウ、ク)

Meaning: mouth

:O

February 28, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | 1 Comment

千(ち、セン)

Meaning: one thousand

Components:

My hack: Say the top part is a bat, then brace yourself for a bad pun. Bat ten a thousand (batting 1000).

February 28, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Go for the ridiculous or shocking

Your brain is better at remembering things that are funny, shocking, or otherwise unusual, so try to come up with hacks that are wild, even if they are ridiculous. You’ll remember those better than ones that are bland.

Some people like to go for gory hacks to make them more memorable, and that’s great if it works for them. I personally prefer the ridiculous since it makes reading the newspaper a lot less stressful.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Memorization tips | Leave a comment

下(した、しも、もと、さ·げる、くだ·す、カ、ゲ)

Meaning: down, below, under, inferior, to give

My hack: It’s a guy handing you something under the table (T for table).

February 27, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

三(み、サン)

Meaning: three

I’ll save my energy for the hard ones.

February 27, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | 2 Comments

十(とう、と、ジュウ、ジッ)

Meaning: ten

My hack: the Roman numeral for 10 is X; just rotate it a bit.

February 27, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | 3 Comments

力(ちから、リョク、リキ)

Meaning: power, strength

My hack: It kind of looks like the right side of a picture of a body builder showing off his strength.

Cover the left side of this photo:

February 27, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | 2 Comments

八(や、よ、ハチ)

Meaning: eight

My hack: Um, these simple ones are harder to do. If you hold your hands up  with the fingertips close together, you get 4 fingers plus 4 fingers =8. It’s a stretch, I know.

February 27, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | 2 Comments

入(い·る、はい·る、ニュウ)

Meaning: to enter, to go in, insert

My hack: I’m imagining a person shouting “I’m going in!” and then striding really fast. That little extra bit at the top is the hair streaming behind.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

人(ひと、ジン、ニン)

Meaning: person

My hack: It’s a person walking, like those sand drawings they used to have on Sesame Street.

You should also know that when this is a radical it looks like this: 亻  Just rotate the original a bit, or you can imagine it’s a side view of a person bowing slightly.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

二(ふた、ニ)

Meaning: two

Again, kind of self-explanatory.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

九(ここの、キュウ、ク)

Meaning: nine

Components: fish hook and katakana ノ.

My hack: No(ノ) way is a Hawaiian fish hook necklace considered dressing to the nines.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

七(なな、シチ)

Meaning: seven

Components: one, and 乚, a variation of (and which looks like し).

My hack: It looks like an upside-down version of the way they write 7 in Europe.

seven

February 26, 2009 Posted by | Grade 1, JLPT 4 | | Leave a comment

上(うえ、かみ、あ·げる、のぼ·る、ジョウ、ショウ)

Meaning: up, above

My hack: Imagine the vertical line is a waiter holding a tray above the ground.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

乙(おつ)

Meaning: fish hook

It kind of reminds me of those Hawaiian fish hooks.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | 1 stroke, Radicals | , , , , | 1 Comment

一(ひと·つ、イチ)

Meaning: one

Not much to memorize here, eh?

February 26, 2009 Posted by | 1 stroke, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | 12 Comments