Archive for the ‘Mnemonic’ Category

Kanji mnemonic: plant, fence, and bridge

2007 March 18

We will learn 3 shapes this time!

First is the plant shape. Observe the blue shapes in these kanji:

草 is the kanji for grass (kusa), 花 is the kanji for flower (hana), and 菜 is the kanji for vegetables (na). I call the blue shape the “plant” shape. Here’s an image of two plants:

For decoration, I made the flowers bloom :). Note that you can see the roots underground. The superimposed image should make it clear why it is called the plant shape:

Of course the discussion wouldn’t be complete without the stroke order:

OK, the plant shape… I’ll guarantee that you will meet it often (and many times in a plant-related kanji). The other two shapes are less common but I bring it here because they are similar to the plant shape.

Next is the bridge shape. See the blue shapes in the following kanji:

算 is the kanji for calculation (san), 鼻 is the kanji for nose (hana), and 械 is the kanji for machine (kai). This shape is devilish because it is so similar to the previous one. Having a completely different mnemonic is a must if you don’t want things mixed up. Look at the image below:

It is a nice bridge that allows you to cross the river! The image fits well with the shape:

Hence it is called the “bridge” shape. Remember, the key point is the bend on the left vertical stroke. Plant roots don’t bend sideways because, well… probably because gravity. Or is it because they can “smell” more water below and try to dig downwards as far as they could? Whatever, here’s the stroke order:

Now for the last one, the fence shape. Take a good look at the blue shapes below:

黄 means yellow (ki), 散 means to scatter (, and 昔 means olden days (mukashi). It’s the plant shape with an extra stroke! But I use a different mnemonic, not related to plants, so that those two aren’t mixed up. Look at my drawing below:

Why, it’s a nice fence that protects the garden… Focus on the two vertical woods, and superimpose the kanji shape:

It fits perfectly! Therefore I call it the “fence” shape. The stroke order:

I hope with those mnemonics, your kanji quest can be made easier. Happy kanji hunting!

Kanji Mnemonic: Hockey player

2007 February 21

This time there’s a scanner around so I can show off my Picasso-like drawing ability…

First of all, observe the kanji in these words:

  • 指 (ゆび): finger
  • 摘む (つむ): to pick
  • 抱く (だく): to hug

Notice that the left shape of all the kanji is same! It’s a shape that occurs in hundreds of kanji, so it is wothy of a name. I call it the hockey player.

This is what a hockey player looks like:

Hockey player

If we change the camera a bit, here’s what he looks like from above:

Hockey player from above

Can you see it already? The next picture should make it clear:

Hockey player and the kanji shape

Therefore, the shape is called the hockey player. QED.

As a closing, here’s the stroke order, taken from Wikimedia Commons:

Hockey player stroke order

PS: Be careful not to confuse this shape with devil’s hand. (they look kind of similar)