Kanji Hacks 漢字の覚え方

How to memorize kanji so they stick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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