Memory Magic

An example of Memory Magic: How to memorize “eki ” (station)

1. Before memorizing, read the word “eki” repeatedly, saying it out loud to make sure you pronounce it correctly.

2. Eki is composed of the characters “e” and “ki.” The pronunciation of “e” is represented by an elephant and “ki” with king. See: MAMA list illustrations.

3. Imagine an elephant having a fierce battle with a king at a station.

4. The elephant is represented by the phonetic character e, and king ki. Together, they represent eki.

5. So, if you think about a station, you will automatically associate it with an elephant and a king, or the word eki.

Explanation of Magical List to Aid Pronunciation and Memorization

MAMA (Memory Aid Magical Alternatives)

1. In the first column 111 commonly used Japanese sounds are arranged in alphabetical order. In each box is the pronunciation of that sound in the alphabet, hiragana and katakana scripts. Those just starting with Japanese only need to know the alphabet.

2. Illustrations (animals, different occupations, products seen in daily life…) are placed in the second column. The first sound used in these English words matches or is similar to each Japanese sound.

3. When there is no English word that can match the Japanese sound, a Japanese word is used. The inside of these frames is colored in grey.

4. The English word for the illustration is in the third column. The word in brackets under the English is the Japanese translation. Square brackets indicate Japanese words (*shows English spellings) and in this case the word in brackets indicates the English translation of the word. If that Japanese word is used in English, no English translation is given.

5. In the fourth column, the Japanese pronunciation of that English word is given.

6. The characters in < > under the Japanese pronunciation shows the characters of the alphabet you’d need to input in order to produce the corresponding Japanese script, besides the standard alphabets in the first column.

The Point of Using Memory Magic

1. Picture small things being bigger. This makes them easier to remember. The more you picture an unusual scene, the more it becomes fixed in your memory.

2. When you use the images on the MAMA list, imagine actual animals, humans, or products as vividly as possible.

3. Some are abstract terms; for instance, “travel.” In these cases, picture something related to the word, such as “travel bag.”

4. If you switch images later, you may become confused, so take care to associate a single image with each object.

5. Many words are formed from four or fewer characters. If you know the first two phonetic characters, you can easily remember the rest of the characters. Memory Magic basically uses images for the first two phonetic characters in the target word. If these aren’t enough to remind you, add more images from the subsequent characters.

6. In the case of a compound word, memorize the first character of each respective word. Example: vending machine (jidou’hannbaiki).

7. When imagining things with MAMA, in order not to become confused, picture the first character (sound) of the word above, on, or to the left of the second character MAMA.