Kanji Hacks 漢字の覚え方

How to memorize kanji so they stick

How to use Kanji Hacks

For each kanji, I will post my own “hack” (or “story” if you are using the “Remembering the Kanji” books). What works for some may not work for others, so please share your own hacks!

To post your own memorization tricks, look up your kanji and put add your idea in a comment. The post for every kanji will have the meaning in bold, and I’ll also link to all the radicals and other kanji associated with it. Then you come up with a “hack” that incorporates all of those elements.

Here’s an example:

  • Meaning: achievement, success
  • Components: 工 and 力
  • My hack: When you construct with strength, you’ll be a success


  • eck of a job = achievement (where ‘eck of play on the katakana エ and カ sounds).

Some rules of thumb:

  • If at all possible, try to make your description use the elements in the order that they are written in the kanji. (For example, say you are working on 秋. It means autumn, with the radicals 禾 (2 branch tree) and 火 (fire). Your hack will be something like: The 2 branch trees look like they are on fire in the autumn (as the leaves change color).)
  • Try to make your hack as simple as possible, since extraneous words are going to throw you off when you are trying to recall the kanji.
  • You don’t always have to use the real meaning of the radicals if you have a better way of memorizing. (Because seriously, how often can you actually use “halberd?”) Sometimes a character just looks like something else. Whatever works.
  • Feel free to riff on someone else’s idea if you need to. Your tweak may be just the thing to make that kanji memorable for someone else.
  • Visuals are always encouraged. The more senses we can get involved in the process the better!

Good luck!

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