Kanji Hacks 漢字の覚え方

How to memorize kanji so they stick

止(と·める、と·まる、シ)

Meaning: to stop

My hack: I can’t claim credit for this one. (I learned this from a book called Kanji Pict-O-Graphix, which has about 1000 mnemonics if you’re interested in seeing some other memorization ideas.)

The first stroke (the longer vertical line) is a police officer, and the little horizontal stroke is his arm out to signal traffic to stop. The third stroke is a child waiting to cross the street, and the final stroke is the ground.

This character is on the cover of the book:

Kanji Pict-O-Graphix

Kanji Pict-O-Graphix

Note: Just in case anyone is suspicious, I have no affiliation with the author of this book and I am not being paid to plug it. I’m just putting it out there as an option for anyone who is interested. For more details on this book and others, check out my reviews.

August 20, 2009 Posted by | 4 strokes, Grade 2, JLPT 3, Radicals | Leave a comment

音(おと、ね、オン、イン)

Meaning: sound

Components: 立 (stand), 日 (day, sun)

My hack: If you had to stand on the sun, I’m pretty sure you’d make a sound (if only for a nanosecond).

May 10, 2009 Posted by | 9 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

工(コウ、ク)

Meaning: craft, construction

My hack: it looks like the side view of an I-beam.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 2, JLPT 3, Radicals | Leave a comment

空(そら、あ・く、あ・ける、から、クウ)

Meaning: empty, sky

Components: 穴 (hole), 工 (construction)

My hack: A hole at a construction site is the very definition of empty.

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Grade 1, JLPT 3 | | Leave a comment

足(あし、た・りる、た・る、た・す、ソク)

Meaning: leg/foot, enough

Components: 口 (mouth), and it looks a lot like 疋 (bolt of cloth)

My hack: To me, this really looks like a cartoon of a person running (“fleet of foot“). That 6th stroke could also remind you of an oversized foot.

April 22, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

赤(あか、あか・らむ、セキ、シャク)

Meaning: red

Components: 土 (earth, dirt), 刂(sword)

My hack: In Hawaii there is that red dirt, and not even a sword can get those spots (the last 2 strokes) out of your clothes.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

花(はな、カ)

Meaning: flower

Components: 艹(grass), 化 (change)

My hack: A flower is a kind of plant, so we have to have 艹, and flowers change more quickly than any other plants (i.e. the blooms die).

OR

the 化 part could be a person on the left, and another person on the right on his/her knees holding a bouquet of flowers behind his/her back.

April 19, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3 | , , , , | Leave a comment

町(まち、チョウ)

Meaning: town

Components: 田 (rice field), 丁 (town)

My hack: A town is not as big as a city, so it would not be surprising to find one surrounded by rice fields. Here there is a T-intersection in the town right next to a field.

April 16, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3 | , , , , | Leave a comment

早(はや·い、ソウ、サッ)

Meaning: early

Components: 日 (day), 十 (ten)

My hack: For me, early in the day is 10 AM.

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

字(あざ、ジ)

Meaning: character, letter

Components: 宀 (no particular meaning) and 子 (child)

My hack: When you’re thinking about how many characters you have to memorize, you say, “oo (ウ) child! (That’s a lot of kanji!)”

March 31, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3 | , , , , | Leave a comment

立(た·つ、リツ、リュウ)

Meaning: stand up

Components: 亠 (pot lid), 一 (one)

My hack: It looks a lot like a sign for a men’s restroom, where the handle to the “pot lid” is the head, the “lid” is the shoulders, and the vertical-ish lines are the sides of the body. You can remember it because men stand in the restroom.

March 20, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

目(め、モク、ボク)

Meaning: eye

My hack: If you turn it sideways, it sort of looks like a Picasso style eye where the two lines in the middle are the outline of the iris.

OR, how about one of those cartoon eyes like Stewie on the Family Guy?

March 18, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

田(た、デン)

Meaning: rice paddy, rice field

My hack: This one does kind of look like what it means.

taue

You just have to remember to write the outside edges first, then put in your (ten) rice plants.

March 16, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

正(ただ·しい、まさ、セイ、ショウ)

Meaning: correct, justice

Components: 一(one)and 止 (stop)

My hack: Think of someone who is very concerned about the environment, and who wants to use a car as little as possible. This person would say “One stop shopping is correct. (Driving all over town is not.)”

Tip: this character is the one that Japanese people use to count things in fives, as opposed to the “counting days in jail” way:

countingby5

If you’re game for it, I would recommend giving the Japanese way a try. Not only will you learn the kanji down cold, but you may find that you like this way better.

March 14, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3 | , , , , | Leave a comment

犬(いぬ、ケン)

Meaning: dog

March 12, 2009 Posted by | 4 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

文(ふみ、ブン、モン)

Meaning: sentence, literature

March 11, 2009 Posted by | 4 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3 | , , , , | Leave a comment

手(て、シュ)

Meaning: hand

March 11, 2009 Posted by | 4 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 3 | , , , , | 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