Some of my Japanese mnemonics

Justin Bieber at the 2010 White House Easter E...

Yuumei have heard of this little sodateru…

I don’t hold with using mnemonics usually in language learning, but with Japanese there is so much going on at once in a word – the various readings, the shape of the kanji, etc, that sometimes odd wordgames and things like that can help. It’s a waste of time to try and do it for every word, but here are some of mine which I already shared (to greater or lesser levels of appreciation) on

Here’s just ten to be going on with. I probably have done about a hundred, but to see them you need to join!

1. To Deliver




That square head by the basket is like *Todo the dog with the square head in the Wizard of Oz in Dorothy’s cycle basket. That’s the moment when he jumps out, so he can’t be *delivered to the interfering neighbour.

2. Sand



If you get *sand inside your ear, the *suna you get it out, the better.

(Another, less polite one, is based on the reading of  “suna” backwards, given the fact that if you slide along a beach backwards you’ll probably get some sand in there. But I didn’t put that one up, at least not yet.)

3. Circumstances




If the *circumstances in the company worsen, the boss le-*ts-u-gou..

4.  Or less than, not more than




*Ika-rus was NOT able to get HIGHER THAN other people for long. Is the symbol on the left a bit like his broken wings falling with him the spot in the middle tumbling to the ground?

5. Season




The prisoner warders are issued with new *keysets every *season

6. Airport




“That’s a nice *kuukou clock, where did you buy it?”
“At Geneva *Airport.”

7. Deep




*Fukai didn’t realise it was going to be that *deep!

8. Famous




“Dad, Justin Bieber’s so *famous even *yuu may have heard of him!”


9. Preparation / setup / arrangements




He had made all the *arrangements and *preparations, but, being of a nervous disposition, he was still very *”junbi” (jumpy) before the event…

10. To bring up




Looking at the kanji, you might see the frowning face of a very strict upbringer. He’s a right “sod at err”-ors made by his students.

About David J. James

56 year old UK origin Chartered Accountant and business consultant who loves languages, literature, history, religion, politics, internet, vlogging and blogging and lively written or spoken discussion, plays backgammon and a few other board games. Walks and listens to Audible for hours a day usually, and avoids use of the car. Conservative Christian, married to an angel with advanced Multiple Sclerosis. We have three kids, two of them autistic, and we live in Warsaw, Poland. On the board of the main British-Polish charity Fundacja Sue Ryder in Poland, and involved in the Vocational Autistic School of "Nie Z Tej Bajki" in Warsaw. Member of Gideons International. Serves on two committees of the Chamber of Auditors in Poland, and on several Boards and Supervisory Boards. Has own consultancy called delivering business governance and audit/valuation solutions as well as mentoring. Author of the GoldList Method for systematic optimal use of the long-term memory in learning.

Posted on 02/01/2013, in Languages and Linguistics, Learning Japanese and Chinese and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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