Kanji Hacks 漢字の覚え方

How to memorize kanji so they stick

疋(ひき)

Meaning: bolt of cloth, head count

My hack: I agree with Heisig that this looks like 正 (correct), with a little flourish on the end. (He calls it “mending.”) I like to remember it with since that one is easier to remember since it has such a clear visual.

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April 22, 2009 Posted by | Radicals | , , , | 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

刀(かたな、トウ)

Meaning: sword

My hack: Some took a sword and cut off the power (as in 力).

Other versions: 刂

This actually looks a lot more like a sword than the main version. Go figure.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Grade 2, JLPT 1, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

森(もり、シン)

Meaning: forest

Components: 木 (tree)

My hack: Oo, I loves me the easy ones. One tree is a tree. 2 trees are a grove. 3 trees are a forest. Basta.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | 12 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2 | , , , , | 2 Comments

貝(かい)

Meaning: shell

Components: 目 (eye), and something close to 八 (eight) or the katakana ハ.

My hack: I remember this one visually, with the horizontal lines representing the lines in the shell. The 2 final strokes are the little “legs” that stick out of the shell, or alternatively they can be water being squirted out of the shell.

clam_1_md

April 20, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2, 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

艹(くさかんむり)

Meaning: grass

My hack: The horizontal line is the ground, and the 2 vertical lines are blades of grass. It’s a sparse lawn.

Variations: 艸 艹 䒑

NOTE: when you see this radical in any character, you can be pretty sure that you are looking at some kind of plant.

April 19, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

化(ば・ける、ば・かす、カ、ケ)

Meaning:change

Components: 亻(person), 匕 (spoon)

My hack: I remember spoon as a side view of a baby since that is what it looks like to me, so for this one I think of a spoon-fed baby and a person and how quickly one changes from one to the other.

April 19, 2009 Posted by | 4 strokes, Grade 3, JLPT 2 | , , , , | Leave a comment

匕(さじのひ)

Meaning: spoon

My hack: To me this looks like a baby sitting on the floor with arms reaching up. Maybe he’s waiting for someone to feed him with a spoon.

April 19, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Radicals | , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

丁(チョウ、テイ)

Meaning: town, street

My hack: it looks like a T intersection of 2 streets in a little town.

April 16, 2009 Posted by | 2 strokes, Grade 3, JLPT 1 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kanji Site

I stumbled across a great resource for kanji learning today: http://www.kanjisite.com/

You can find out all sorts of information about each kanji just by clicking around, and it also has some very user friendly quizzes. You just mouse over the kanji to get the reading rather than waiting for a new page to load. Very nice.

It’s definitely worth a visit!

April 14, 2009 Posted by | General learning | 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

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

村(むら、ソン)

Meaning: village

Components: 木 (tree, wood), 寸 (measurement/inch or glue)

My hack: I think of a village surrounded by a wooden fence, with the slats just an inch or so apart.

April 12, 2009 Posted by | 7 strokes, Grade 1, JLPT 2 | , , , , | Leave a comment

寸(すん)

Meaning: measurement (roughly 1 inch). Heisig calls this “glued to.”

My hack: I like to think of this as “inch.” Just think of a t-square (rotate this image in your head!), and the little dot is about an inch long.

If you want to go with the Heisig meaning (“glue” or “glued to”), then try this:

The first 2 strokes are the hot glue gun, and the little dot is the dab of glue.

April 12, 2009 Posted by | 3 strokes, Grade 6, JLPT 1, 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