Koko = Here (next to me) (Noun)
Sounds like – Cocoa (Hot Chocolate)
Story – You are holding a cup of hot steaming cocoa. But this cocoa isn’t just ordinary cocoa, it is premium quality and costs $1000 bucks a cup. You take a sip, but it’s so hot that you spray it all out of your mouth and onto your arm. It burns your arm and you drop your cup spilling all the hot cocoa on the ground. Years from now your friends will always ask you where you spilt your $1000 cup of hot cocoa, and you’ll say “Here, in this very spot, was where I spilt it.” Just remember, here is where you spilt your cocoa.
Cocoa = Koko = Here
Animal = Doobutsu (noun)
Sounds like – Doe + Bootsu (As a Japanese speaker would say “boots”)
Story – A small doe (deer) is walking around. You look closely at his feet, because something looks strange. On his hooves he is wearing boots. Or as a Japanese speaker would say it “butsu“. The doe with bootsu has to be the strangest animal you have ever seen.
A doe wearing boots = Doobutsu = Animal
Air = Kuuki (noun)
Sounds like – Cookie
Story – The air is completely full of small chocolate chip cookies. Everywhere you look, cookies fill the air, you take a deep breath and inhale them in. Delicious.
Cookie = Kuuki = Air
Cheerful = Akarui (Adjective)
Sounds like – A Ca(r) Louie
Story – You are driving in a really junky beat up car with your friend Louie. You look at the car and see how beat up it is, half the roof is missing, the windows are cracked, the seats are cut up. Yet in spite of all this, your friend Louie is cheerful, and he has a big smile on his face. Just imagine riding in a car, with Louie, who is cheerful.
A ca(r) Louie = Akarui = Cheerful (Just remember to drop the “r” in car.)
Choose, Pick = Erabu (verb)
Sounds like – “A” + love (or as a Japanese speaker would say, “Labuu”)
Story – A Japanese person is standing in front of you outside a supermarket. In one hand he is holding a giant “A,” and in the other, a giant “B”. He doesn’t know English very well. He asks you “A labuu? Do you labuu A?” He asking whether you choose (“labuu“) the A or the B.
“A” + labuu(love) = Erabu = Choose, Pick
Movie = Eiga (noun)
Sounds like – Egg + “ah”
Story – You are watching a movie at the theater. You look around, and instead of people sitting in the seats, they are all filled with giant eggs. As you see all these eggs, you exclaim “ahh.” All the eggs turn to look at you.
Egg + “ah” = Eiga = Movie
First of all, thanks for visiting this site. I hope this will help you in your quest to learn Japanese, or even if it doesn’t and you don’t get any of my mnemonics, thanks for visiting anyway.
A couple notes –
1. I write the Japanese pronunciation in Romaji. This might be different then pronunciation that you are used to. It’s very simple to learn, click here to go to a good webpage with more information on Romaji. Of course the best way would be to look in a Japanese dictionary with hiragana / katakana, or ask a Japanese speaker.
2. These are mnemonics that work for me, they may not work for you at all. Hopefully though you’ll get some good ideas for making up your own. And if you do, leave a comment with them and I’ll probably post it so others can read! Share your mnemonics!
3. Pay special attention to the pronunciation at the start of the post, it may be a little different then what the story would have you literally remember. You’ll see what I mean if you read some.
4. IMPORTANT – Verbs on this site are written in dictionary form, which means to find the polite form you will have to conjugate them. I tell you this so you do not accidentally disrespect someone by using the impolite / peer form of a verb. You can find alot of good information about Japanese verbs, including how to conjugate them, on this about.com site.
Tips – Try to visualize the story happening, the colors, the details, the action actually playing itself out. The more detailed you make it in your head, the easier it will be to remember. At least I think so…