Kanji Hacks 漢字の覚え方

How to memorize kanji so they stick

草(くさ、ソウ)

Meaning: grass

Components: 艹(grass), 早 (early)

My hack: You should water your grass early (it’s better for the environment, you know).

OR

Grass (poking up through the snow) is an early sign of spring.

Any other ideas?

May 10, 2009 Posted by | 9 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2 | , , , , | Leave a comment

林(はやし、リン)

Meaning: woods, grove

Components: 木 (tree)

My hack: One tree is just a tree, 2 trees are a grove/woods.

April 22, 2009 Posted by | 8 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2 | , , , , | Leave a comment

森(もり、シン)

Meaning: forest

Components: 木 (tree)

My hack: Oo, I loves me the easy ones. One tree is a tree. 2 trees are a grove. 3 trees are a forest. Basta.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | 12 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2 | , , , , | 2 Comments

貝(かい)

Meaning: shell

Components: 目 (eye), and something close to 八 (eight) or the katakana ハ.

My hack: I remember this one visually, with the horizontal lines representing the lines in the shell. The 2 final strokes are the little “legs” that stick out of the shell, or alternatively they can be water being squirted out of the shell.

clam_1_md

April 20, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

化(ば・ける、ば・かす、カ、ケ)

Meaning:change

Components: 亻(person), 匕 (spoon)

My hack: I remember spoon as a side view of a baby since that is what it looks like to me, so for this one I think of a spoon-fed baby and a person and how quickly one changes from one to the other.

April 19, 2009 Posted by | 4 strokes, Grade 3, JLPT 2 | , , , , | Leave a comment

虫(チュウ)

Meaning: insect, bug, worm

Components: 口 (mouth)

My hack: This one really reminds me of a mosquito. The 口 part is the skin, and the last 3 strokes make up the probosis and face of the insect. Sorry if this makes you itchy.

NOTE: this one is really similar to 中 (center), and their ON readings are the same.

April 13, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

村(むら、ソン)

Meaning: village

Components: 木 (tree, wood), 寸 (measurement/inch or glue)

My hack: I think of a village surrounded by a wooden fence, with the slats just an inch or so apart.

April 12, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2 | , , , , | Leave a comment

耳(みみ、ジ)

Meaning: ear

My hack: This one takes a little visualization. Imagine someone with a bad 80s haircut and a big piercing looking to their right (so you see the left ear).

Stroke 1: line of the haircut above the ear

Stroke 2: sideburns

Stroke 3-4: wrinkles in the ear

Stroke 5: the long piercing

Stroke 6: mullet!

April 9, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

糸(いと、シ)

Meaning: thread

Components: 小 (small) and 幺 (small & skinny)

My hack: What is smaller and skinnier than a thread?

If you like visuals, imagine the hack for 小 (fingers holding a needle) and the thread at the top is going through the eye of the needle.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

竹(たけ、チク)

Meaning: bamboo

Components: This is a radical on its own, but I like to think of the first 2 strokes as a mini-radical also.

My hack: The first two strokes are the leaves and stem of a bamboo plant, and the vertical stroke is the stalk. And since bamboo grows in groves you have to have more than one plant.

OR

If you like the mini-radical approach, you make arrows out of bamboo stalks.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

干(ほ·す、ひ·る、カン)

Meaning: to dry (something)

Components: 二 (two), 丨(walking stick)

My hack: If you want to dry something, just stretch it over 2 sticks (and let it air dry).

March 31, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 6, JLPT 2, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

玉(たま、ギョク)

Meaning: ball, jewel

Components: 王 (king) and 丶(dot, drop)

My hack: I like to think of a fairy tale king who has lots  of jewels. Imagine that the dot is a giant gem in his ring, or that it is the royal orb (ball).

Painting by Gerard van Honthorst via Wikipedia.org

Painting by Gerard van Honthorst via Wikipedia.org

March 15, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

王(オウ)

Meaning: king

My hack: Imagine a king from a chess board, and focus on the horizontal lines. You’ll probably have to ignore the cross on the top, but the 3 horizontal lines and one vertical line should be fairly clear.

TIP: keep in mind the stroke order when you learn this one! Top, down, middle, bottom.

Photo by Manuel Marin

Photo by Manuel Marin

March 12, 2009 Posted by | 4 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment