Dec 23, 2023Blog, Education

Originating from the Occxie communication protocol of English—an alphabet soup with a plethora of quirks and quarks—a continuum intermingling just 26 letters—highly useful to create mystical magical monologues of a somewhat poetic kind.

After entering Japan, ΩNE was faced with a massive wall of what looked like hieroglyphics—a seemingly insurmountable mountain of 2,136 ideograms making up the reading system of the Japanese.

Abstract Kanji ChartThe seemingly overwhelming task of reading Japanese left this wayward student functionally illiterate for several years after arriving upon the Land Of The Rising Son.

Just for good measure, there are also two other syllabaries—one for describing foreign words—KATAKANA—カタカナ—the other—HIRAGANA—ひらがな—developed as a simpler, more accessible script for native Japanese speakers, primarily women, who were often excluded from Chinese character education back in the day.

Interestingly, prominent court figures like the divine Lady Murasaki Shikibu, the author of “The Tale of Genji” was influential in popularising HIRAGANA script—an early example of Woman Power.

Tale of GenjiBeing an autodidactic is somewhat of a lonely place, yet the cure for any such fleeting emotion is what is known as mental elbow grease—the conviction of just three words—Yes I can.

For certain it is crucial to petition for assistance from a memory aid somewhat like a friend, this is where the bosom buddy named mnemonics comes to the rescue over and over again.

Somewhat of a secret superpower, mnemonics employ several different memorisation techniques to recall information more effectively. 

Indeed, integrating mnemonics into a personal study of Japanese is a highly powerful technique enhancing memory and recall, and using visual imagery to memorise kanji is always an awesome place to start.

Walk your own way and follow the sunAt first glance kanji may seem like a jumbled mess, and to the untrained eye this is indeed what is first seen. 

These complex ideograms are made up of different components, know as radials, understanding this is as helpful as can be.

Breaking down kanji into simpler components and associating each part with an image is an excellent way to get started on a glorious kanji quest. 

A primary example is the kanji for “tree” () which actually resembles a tree—so the key point here is to imagine a tree when you see this kanji—this will burn the character into the mind for forever and a day.

Tree in the shape of 木One of the most important point in successful language acquisition is building a robust vocabulary as quickly as possible and ΩNE can do so by linking the sound of the word to a similar-sounding word of ΩNE’s own mother tongue. 

For example, “neko” (), meaning cat, sounds like “neck” in English—this is where creating an image of a cat with a long neck will facilitate internalisation of this unfamiliar foreign word in a jiffy.

A whimsical image of a cat with an unusually long neckLinking the meaning of associated words with a vivid and related image or concept is also a handy tool in the quest for fluency. 

Here is a two birds with one stone scenariowhen internalising the word kumo—meaning cloud also has the same pronunciation as spider蜘蛛here it is easy to imagine a cloud in the shape of a spider—there you have ittwo words one stone. 

The spider is the cloud

As with all things, consistent daily practice to review mnemonics regularly will accelerate the path to fluency and as your personal mnemonics journey progresses be sure to update all mnemonics to match your own understanding and beyond.

Another great idea is to implement personal experiences and creativity into the mnemonics as the more personal and creative the mnemonics are, the more effective it will be.