Kanji Hacks 漢字の覚え方

How to memorize kanji so they stick

穴(あな、ケツ)

Meaning: hole, opening

Components: 宀 (no meaning), 八 (eight) or katakana ハ

My hack: What sound would come out of your mouth if you fell in a hole? “Uwha?!” (ウハ?!)

May 3, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 6, JLPT 1, Radicals | , , , , | 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

石(いし、セキ、シャク、コク)

Meaning: rock, stone

Components: 一(one), 丿(katakana “no”), 口 (mouth, exit)

My hack: This one is a cheesy one but, “One rock, no way out.” As in, one一 rock (engagement ring), noノway out口 of getting married.

March 19, 2009 Posted by | 5 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 1, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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