Kanji Hacks 漢字の覚え方

How to memorize kanji so they stick

金(かね、かな‐、キン、コン)

Meaning: gold

Components: 𠆢 (roof), 干 (to dry)

My hack:   ( Grr. These radicals are the hardest ones, and you can’t just skip them because they show up EVERYWHERE.)

I try to think of this as a gold mine, where the first 2 strokes are the roof, the next 3 strokes are something like a jack hammer, the two dot-like strokes are sparks, and the last is the ground. I’m sure this has absolutely no relation to how gold is actually produced, but it makes a nice visual stimulus.

Advertisements

May 16, 2009 Posted by | 8 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

雨(あめ、あま‐、ウ)

Meaning: rain

My hack: This looks a lot like rain on a window to me. The first stroke is the curtain rod above the window, or maybe the top of the window. Strokes 2-4 outline the window panes, and the last 4 strokes are the drops of rain on the window.

Remember this one well, because it’s the radical for all sorts of kanji having to do with weather.

May 9, 2009 Posted by | 8 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | 1 Comment

学(まな・ぶ、ガク)

Meaning: study, learning

Components: Something close to ツ, 冖 (cover), 子 (child)

  • Heisig refers to the combination of the first 5 strokes as “school house.”

My hack: You know how books lean one way or the other when you put them on a bookshelf? I imagine the first three strokes as books. And when a child has to study, s/he is covered in books.

You can also remember “school house” that way, because where else would you be covered in books?

April 26, 2009 Posted by | 8 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

車(くるま、シャ)

Meaning: car

My hack: This looks like a bird’s eye view of a chariot, which was the car of its day I suppose.

Photo by joaquinuy

Photo by joaquinuy

April 22, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | 2 Comments

見(み・る、み・える、み・せる、ケン)

Meaning: see

Components: 目 (eye), 儿(legs)

My hack: I like to think of the legs as making the eye work (making it into a verb), meaning to see.

OR

My grandma used to say “keep your eyes out on sticks” when looking for something. That’s similar to “see.”

April 18, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | 1 Comment

校(コウ)

Meaning: school

Components: 木 (tree/wood), 六 (six), something close to “X”

My hack: My elementary school was made of wood, I went there for six years and now I’m done (signified by the X).

OR

When I went to school I would (wood) wear a size 6X.

April 18, 2009 Posted by | 10 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , | Leave a comment

男(おとこ、ダン、ナン)

Meaning: man, male

Components: 田 (rice field), 力 (strength, power)

My hack: This is not historically accurate, but the man is the power in the field (i.e., does all the hard labor in the field).

April 14, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

百(ヒャク)

Meaning: one hundred

Components: 一 (one), 白 (white)

My hack: when you get to be one hundred, your hair gets white.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | 1 Comment

気(キ、ケ)

Meaning: spirit, mind, air

Components: 气 (spirit, air), メ (katakana)

My hack: (in a conversation about regional airlines) “Spirit Air? Meh.”

April 1, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

年(とし、ネン)

Meaning: year

Components: ノ (katakana), 干 (to dry), or 三 (three)

My hack: “No way will I finish in 2 and a half or 3 years.” The first line is ノ, then 二 where the short vertical line is the “half,” and the final horizontal line makes it 三. The final stroke you’ll just have to remember, I guess.

I also have a hack to remember the stroke order since this one is tricky: start at the top left, and pretend you are Harold with the purple crayon and you have the draw all the steps to get down (“down” being the final vertical line).

March 31, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

名(な、メイ、ミョウ)

Meaning:  name

Components: 夕 (evening) and 口 (mouth)

My hack: I actually remember this one by the katakana the components resemble: タ and ロ. So, someone introducing himself would say, “The name is Taro.”

March 25, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

先(さき、セン)

Meaning: before, ahead, preceding

Components: 儿 (legs), and you could say ノ and 土 (dirt) although they are not technically radicals of this kanji.

My hack: Brush the dirt off your legs before you come in. (Imagine the ノ is a hand.) OR, “no dirt on your legs before you come in.”

March 24, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

休(やす·む、キュウ)

Meaning: rest, time off, take a break

Components: 亻(from 人 person) and 木 (tree)

My hack: When a person takes a break, s/he can rest under the tree.

March 21, 2009 Posted by | 6 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

白(しろ、しら、ハク、ビャク)

Meaning: white

Components: 日 (sun, day)

My hack: white light from the sun.” The sun is 日 and the stroke at the top is the light radiating out.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

生(い·きる、う·む、は·える、なま、セイ、ショウ)

Meaning: life, give birth, real

Components: well, there is no official radical for this character, but Heisig suggests remembering strokes #2-5 as something like “growing” (as in a plant). I think of it as something like a corn stalk, as in this image:

Photo courtesy of USDA

Photo courtesy of USDA

My hack: I think of the first stroke as a drop of water, which gives life to all things that grow.

March 16, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

本(もと、ホン)

Meaning: book, main, true, root, source

  • (you’ll probably encounter this as “book” or the “hon” in “nihon” more than anything else in the beginning.)

Components: 木 (tree), and a very small 一 (one)

My hack: Books, which are made from trees, are the one true source of knowledge.”

OR, “books are made from tree roots.”

Photo by a hundred visions and revisions

Photo by a hundred visions and revisions

March 14, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

左(ひだり、サ)

Meaning: left

Components: 工(こう craft, construction)

March 12, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

四(よ、よん、シ)

Meaning: four

Components: 口(くち mouth) and 儿(ひとあし human legs)

March 12, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

右(みぎ、ウ、ユウ)

Meaning: right

Component: 口(くち mouth)

March 12, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment

出(で·る、だす、シュツ、スイ)

Meaning: to go out, leave

Component: 凵(うけばこ receiving box)

March 12, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 4 | , , , , | Leave a comment