Presenting “Yasuke! Kanji Mnemonics for the Classroom”

In this incomplete but initial starter post, JapanTree is proud to present – the fruit of six years of effort – the world’s first kanji system to adapt the Heisig Method for use in the classroom.


Why? Heisig -as he says in his book Remembering The Kanji – wasn’t convinced it could be done.

Instead he felt that mnemonics as a method of remembering kanji could only work for self-learning. He felt that to be the case because the order the kanji are learnt in can be important. And in a classroom you wouldn’t be able to go through them in that order. So he felt it couldn’t be done.

And pretty much everyone after that assumed that it was the unfortunate unchangeable reality.

Today, it has been done.

By giving students and teachers a system where kanji can be searched on-demand (with hiragana jukugo lookup) – and a system where a whole list of kanji a student has to memorize can be processed into a kanji mnemonic list – it is now possible to learn kanji in context without being completely confined to Heisig order (or any other order)

Better yet,

our Yasuke! system focuses on the thing every kanji system we’ve seen so far doesn’t focus on enough…

keyword to kanji practice.

Keyword to kanji practice is one of the best ways to practice and get used to kanji. Really it is has to be the focus. And in Yasuke! it is rightly the backbone of the whole system.

2021 -07 -22 UPDATE:

We’ve just released the Yasuke! Kanji Writer’s Dictionary in paperback format.

This dictionary is all about writing kanji by-hand. And about using Kanji in context from day one.

As you write for homework assignments or kanji test prep, this dictionary will give you helpful hints at the kanji that will enable you to remember the components (the “spelling”) of the kanji.

Be sure to check out the blog post about it.

Don’t get me wrong, we love the other mnemonics resources that are out there (and Yasuke! is meant to be a complement not a replacement for them); But they haven’t taken Kanji learning far enough… NOT BY A LONG SHOT.

(So let’s keep improving kanji mnemonics)

For instance, flashcards are great – if you like going through 1,700 of something…. one painful piece at a time.

Maybe “1,000s of flashcards one at a time” sounds good in theory to the guy making the system, but it is A PAIN to the person trying to use it and learn something.

I have a feeling that either the developers of many of the kanji systems out there are not using their own system and so don’t realize it is a pain, or, they just haven’t found a better way. I’m not saying their resources aren’t good (they probably have less bugs in their system than mine even), it’s just that what I am doing here is unique. This is a first. And it can really help your kanji.

Since I started development in 2014 I have been using my system everyday to help myself write kanji from memory (with keyword prompts and then without them). And I use it every week as I teach my students Japanese and help them learn the kanji that come up in their textbooks, articles, and other classroom materials.

As far as the Yasuke! system goes, instead of flashcards you will start out with skimming through 100s of these kanji at a time, getting used to them. Skimming is vital because it is like seeing the whole mountain before you start climbing it.

With the Yasuke! method, you can learn kanji in larger chunks (not one at a time) and you will also be able to learn the kanji in context (ex: the kanji from a classroom textbook assignment).

Kanji retention will come from Tadoku (extensive reading) and extensive writing (writing kanji from memory using keyword prompts). And it is the focus of our current and future features to help you do that type of practice. (as far a future features go, we have a “kanji replacer” in beta testing)

So let me show you where the current features are:

diagram of kanji practice links, jukugo links, and kanji dictionary

Highlighted in red are the practice pages.

They will help you practice writing the kanji from memory. They also give a list of jukugo (from the JLPT list) that the kanji are used in. And each kanji links to info pages on several of the top dictionary websites, mnemonics lists, and sentence examples.

Highlighted in blue are the jukugo pages.

The jukugo are according to a 5,000+ list for the JLPT. Our jukugo pages help you write the kanji from memory using keyword prompts.

Highlighted in green is our Yasuke Writer.

As mentioned above it is a great tool (the first of it’s kind) to help you look up a [jukugo] word using hiragana, get keyword prompts, and practice writing the kanji (without seeing it).

2022 -07 -31 UPDATE:

In addition to the Yasuke! Writer, we now have a “hint-assisted Chinese Character Keyboard” that you can setup on your smart phone.


Please go check out these kanji pages and learn how to use the method!

There are lots of tutorial on the kanji pages. And as things progress, I will be expanding on them and simplifying them into an easy to use, easy to understand, whole.

To learn about the history of this project and to keep up with the future of it check out:

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