Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gran Torino - ケイ

Gran Torino

It's Oーケイ、people ケイn change.

46 characters


It was Clint's desire to die for the sake of his friend, Thao and his family.


This movie has one of the most unique plots I've seen in years.

mountain stream

Sue corrects Clint: "We're not jungle people, we're a hill people." After the Vietnam War they left behind hills, valleys and mountain streams for Midwest America.


All the delicious-looking chicken presented in this movie, looks really tasty!


As punishment for trying to steal the Gran Torino, Tao is punished by his aggressive sister and mother by having to do chores for Clint.

mould; type*

The Gran Torino is an impressive type of car!


In the strange traditions portrayed in this movie, there are some rather odd sutras. [scene: the baby being blessed]


Clint does not take people treading on his lawn or breaking his lawn gnomes lightly! [scene: Clint holding a gun to the portly gang member's face]


[scene: Clint is prevented with stalks upon stalks of flowers and other plant-life, that he promptly throws in the trash]


If Clint didn't regularly drive around the diameter of the neighborhood regularly, with his gun on him, who knows what would have happened when Sue was getting harassed by those 3 black guys!


All the jokes about lineage in this movie. There are many to choose from. I imagine the scenes where Clint is getting his haircut, trading insults with the Barber.

person in charge

Is there any doubt Clint is the one in charge here? He carries the gun and talks hard. (and he directed the movie)


"We shot men, stabbed 'em with bayonets and hacked 17-year olds to death with shovels," says Clint of his Korean War days. Words to inspire awe.


Clint Eastwood admonishes, well, almost everyone in this movie (with some extreme racial slurs)


The look on Thao's face when he discovers he will inherit the Gran Torino.

put up a notice

Somebody should have put up a notice about how dangerous the streets of this town can be - Thao and his sister seem totally oblivious.

elder brother

Despite being the elder brother, Thao isn't strong enough to protect his sister.


The rival gangs vying for territory and control in this movie.

Japanese Judas Tree

With such a high Asian population in Clint's town, there must be some transplanted seeds - why not a Japanese Judas Tree (...maybe because no one in this movie is Japanese!)

square jewel

Clint's lighter. "First Calvary, I've had it since '51."


The many scenes in this movie where Clint is sitting on his front porch with his talk, drinking Pap's Blue Ribbon, enjoying a lengthy recess (break).


Tao does many, many favors for Clint after he tries to steal the Gran Torino
Cross Connection: Cartman asks a favor of Clint Eastwood: "could you, like take this DNA test so I know if you're my father or not?"*


Clint's body is in terrible shape throughout the whole movie [scene: any time he coughed up blood.]


Thao inherits the Gran Torino in the glorious final scene, as he drives off into the sunset.


The suggested scenery of Retirement Homes on his birthday enrages Clint beyond belief! Or, the beautiful scenery of the final scene.


Ashley (the hot grandaughter) complaining that her portable phone won't work during the post-funeral services.


The priest pledged to Clint's dead wife that he would "tend to his flock," and is very persistent in holding true to this pledge.


The gory details that Clint discloses about his war experiences in this movie. "We used to stack @#The gory details that Clint discloses about his war experiences in this movie. "We used to stack @#The gory details that Clint discloses about his war experiences in this movie. "We used to stack @#The gory details that Clint discloses about his war experiences in this movie. "We used to stack @#$&s like you 5 feet high in Korea, use ya for sandbags."
amp;s like you 5 feet high in Korea, use ya for sandbags."
amp;s like you 5 feet high in Korea, use ya for sandbags."


The Priest in this movie really leans on Clint to embrace his faith - he won't have it though.


Murder, rape, many capitol offenses are committed in this movie.*

lightning bug

Clint's death scene. It was night, and as his body lay on the ground, I imagine lightning bugs circling the air.


There are incredible cultural boundaries overcome in this film.


training 稽
silicon 珪
paddy-field ridge 畦
link up 繋
ruled lines 罫
visit a shrine 詣
about that time 頃
neck and throat 頚
astute 慧
magistrate 卿
ambrosial 馨
Andromeda 奎
shin 脛
formidable 勁

Notes: Woo! 30 kanji readings down, and even if I only remember 30 or 40% of them longterm, it's an achievement, and worth watching this wonderful film again.

You'll notice I call Clint Eastwood by his real name, and not his character (Walt Kowalski). It's easier for me to remember that way.

mould; type
This is an example of when I deviate from RTK method, in that I use multiple keywords. It's not often, but I have maybe 30 or 40 of these out of the 2000.

This is the first post to introduce a Cross Connection: That is a way to link a kanji with multiple readings to another story. This is entirely experimental and could get messy with kanji with 3 or 4 on-yomi (not sure how many there are), but I'm playing it by ear so far.

Capital/Capitol. Sometimes, for the sake of connecting a story to a movie, I'll do wordplay/substitute different words with same pronunciation, that kind of thing. It works for me, and I retain the original meaning because I already have that kanji's keyword lodged firmly in my mind.

*desire - not in RTK, but included in the new Joyo kanji list.

I hope you have enjoyed this. Another movie coming some time in the next week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

South Park - Season 2 Episode 2:"Cartman's Mom is still a Dirty Sl*t" - エイ

[You can watch this episode for free at]

South Park - Season 2 Episode 2:"Cartman's Mom is still a Dirty Sl*t"

エイ - 映画(えいが)movie. America's Most Wanted makes a movie out the South Park's shooting!

16 characters


Kenny reappears back from eternity for another episode!


Kenny (a.k.a. Team B) swims through sewage and snow to get to the power activation area.


Cartman needs to recite all of "come sail away" after hearing the opening line.


The Dr. in this episode sounds rather campy. And English? (tho if so it's a terrible attempt at it)


The people of South Park deciding to eat Eric Roberts doesn't reflect well on their morals.


The Hells Pass Hospital in South Park is an "Equal Opportunity Employer" - hence their quadriplegic nurse. (Image: Remember when she hands the doctor the needle with her mouth. Despite her handicap, she does great at her occupation!)


Mrs. Cartman sleeps with every politician in defense of her beliefs about abortion! (or was it adoption...)


Cartman's pointed attitude when it comes to finding out who his father is! Or the quadriplegic nurse holding the long, pointed needle in her mouth.


Mephesto is shot in shadow... or when the power goes out, putting the town and hospital in


After the fetus has flourished to the "40th" trimester, it's too late to get an abortion! Poor Mrs. Cartman!


sucking infant

crystal stone

brush tip


dribble out



Notes: I decided to go ahead and make this episode be my template for エイ; If I find it confusing (in correlation with the previous episode, which I don't think I will since they're pretty different in plot besides a running gag) I'll redo it later.

There are some good examples in here of stories that I personally don't even need. I already know 英語 (English) and 映画 (movie) and you probably do too, it's beginner's material. I'm putting them in for the sake of completion and, perhaps, readers of this blog, assuming it builds some kind of following. But I know those two stories are lame (connecting England with this episode was tough), so if anyone has any better/alternative ideas please submit them. A few of the other characters in this group I'm familiar with, such as 栄養 (えいよう nutrition) or 水泳 (すいえい swimming) but could definitely use the reinforcement on them. And the rest are brand new to me, as far as on-yomi goes.

I've been itching to get started on this project for a while, and the momentum is full speed for now! Work should keep me busy but I will try to get another movie template done this week. I want to crank out a lot of these this summer, before I'm bogged down with JLPT2 studying in the fall.

South Park - Season 1 Episode 13:"Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Sl*t" - エ

This next template is an example of what I'll be doing for on-yomi groups with too few kanji to make a whole movie template. I was 13 when I saw this episode, and I remember being extremely annoyed when they opened the next season with Terrence and Philip instead of the legitimate sequel. (there was actually a huge, unanticipated surge of complaints to Comedy Central as a result) If the show aired in Japan, perhaps there would have been one loud, resounding え?!?

[You can watch this episode for free at]

South Park - Season 1 Episode 13:"Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Sl*t"

" エ! Kitty, that's my corn-beef cabbage! That's a bad kitty!"


Mr. Mackey asks a favor of the boys, to videotape Cartman's strange behavior.


Mrs. Cartman's infamous meeting with Eric Cartman's... father(s)?! (Chef, Chief, Mr. Garrison, pick your favorite)


The end of this episode is the picture of suspenseful cliffhangers. (this one was a bit difficult)


How many different times does Cartman's Dad's identity change in this episode?!

garment - reliant

Cartman is reliant on his "Naive American" garments to understand his "father." And his hip hop garment when he thinks Chef is his father. ("Oh my God! I'm a black African American!)


Notes: 回向 (えこう), Buddhist memorial service is the only compound with 回 using that pronunciation (which I could find in my Nelson's Kanji Dictionary); かい is MUCH much more common. However, since it's a valid pronunciation it's included in the list. This is a problem - the problem of multiple 音読み - we'll run into time and again, and it really can't be helped - しょがない as the saying goes. If there is any way to mentally link the two or three movie templates which share a kanji reading, that might be a good strategy. For example, assuming I used 回(かい) for, say, Die Hard - "how many times does Bruce Willis almost die in this movie?" Imagine Eric Cartman thinking John McClain is his father. It's a bit of a stretch, but from what I've read (and my own imaginative experiences learning kanji) this kind of thing does work - I will report on how it works for me, anyhow.

The real conundrum here is, should I use the sequel to this episode (Cartman's Mom is still a Dirty Sl*t) as a template for エイ, the elongated version of this reading? Or would it be too confusing? Looking for feedback, thanks.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Half Baked - イン

What better way to start a blog about memory than a movie about the lack thereof? The first template is for Half-Baked, a 90's stoner comedy featuring Dave Chappelle, and favorite movie of mine back when I was in high school.

Can Thurgood save Kenny from Nasty Nate イン time?!


Kenny Davis the kindergarten teacher is not a model employee - neither is the rest of the group! (Scarface with his burger job or Thurgood, stealing from his employers)


"It's hard bein black and gifted, sometimes I just wanna throw it all down and get lifted!" or "candy makes you dandy"


The cause of every problem in this movie is weed. The cause of this movie is weed. Cause = weed = half baked.


The way this movie ends it's like Thurgood dumped weed to end up in holy matrimony with Mary Jane.


Kenny Davis the kindergarten teacher is institutionalized after he gets busted! Image: Nasty Nate staring and Kenny... in the shower.


Jerry Garcia performing in Brian's (Jim Breuer's) ear-lobe.


The stamp of Sampson and the stamp of Mr. Smiley are both infamous stamps in this flick!


The memorable way Snoop Dog pulls on a joint in this movie.


Kenny emerging from the slurpee machine after he first gets high: "I've never felt so thirsty, in my entire life!"


When Mr. Sampson is introduced, the lighting is dim, he sits in the shade of his fire surrounded by ninja women (with hair-curlers on).


A license to teach - something Kenny Davis the kindergarten teacher would love to get back (and I wonder how he got it in the first place...)


Scarface, trying to conceal his identity by dressing up and acting like a mime.




behind the scenes


blood relative

How to use this site

1) The movie you want to use to supplement your studies should be a movie you are well familiar with, and can recall certain scenes from with ease.

2) Look over the template, see if you like the "story" ideas (the sentences used to link some aspect of the film to the keyword of the kanji). If not, change them to your liking.

3) Watch the movie, bearing in mind the on-yomi and each character you are trying to learn as their respective scenes comes up.

4) As for review, I'm not yet certain myself - ideally you hope to remember most of the characters, but if one or two give you trouble down the road, I think a quick reminder of their grouping and association to whatever movie/pronunciation used should be sufficient. Watching the movie more than once isn't necessary, as you should already be pretty familiar with its content.

I'm new to this too (I'm learning as I go along and make up these templates) so I'm open to feedback.


First off, welcome to yet another blog about learning Japanese. Japanese has certainly snowballed in popularity in recent years, and I feel like sort of a late-bloomer having started learning it only in 2006. However, with great popularity comes great (and nowadays free) resources, available via the wonderful internet. This is my own contribution and, since I was making these "templates" anyway, I thought sharing them might help someone else out too.

This site is all about memorizing 音読み (on-yomi), which is defined succinctly on Wikipedia as: "a Japanese approximation of the Chinese pronunciation of the character at the time it was introduced." These are readings for characters that tend to be less common than 訓読み (kun-yomi), their Japanese-original counterparts. Learning on-yomi is one of many hurdles for Japanese students, but rejoice! There is a relief to the endless rote memorization!

If you are not familiar with the Remembering the Kanji series, please take a look at this website: Reviewing the Kanji. It explains the amazing book written by James Heisig, that promotes the use of imaginative memory and mnemonics to remember kanji. I personally use this site in unison with anki, an amazing piece of free SRS (Spaced Repetition Software), as do hundreds if not thousands of other students. Being all the way (if not mostly) finished with the first 2000 kanji in Heisig's method is a sort of pre-requisite to being able to use this site. (unless you are already familiar with characters and have little trouble using the static key-words)

Next, giving credit where it's due, this idea was original created by a blogger who goes by Alyks, and you can view his blog here. He laid out the framework of using movies to replace kanji-town, but both are in theory the same thing. They utilize spatial memory to increase ones ability to recall information. Think of it like how you remember directions: when you move through a town by car, you know one red light comes after another, to turn before this stop sign, etc. The idea is that if you have a spatial or temporal template to work with (such as movies or in the case of kanji-town fictional, sketched out towns) you can learn on-yomi in groups. The creator's site has some examples, and you can also observe it in action in my next post. The main difference is that this site uses only keywords and (hopefully) only one or two short sentences to associate the kanji with a scene, trait, character, setting, plot point, etc. etc. of the movie of choice (as opposed to naming every radical/primitive (piece) of the kanji, this method is strictly for on-yomi memorization, not kanji writing skills). This site is all about indexing my templates and ideas for public use, although contributions are of course welcome.

That brings us nicely to the main "mission statement" of this site: creating templates for others looking for a fresh way to study on-yomi - hence the title, "The Movie Method in Action." Much like Remembering the Kanji, certain ideas won't be memorable for everyone, and what works great for me might not help you. We may - nay, undoubtedly will - have different tastes in movies. I personally am using a lot of movies I watched ad nauseum as a kid, so that means a lot of comedy and action movies, the kind you can watch over and over again. However, if any of these ideas are useful to you, or you edit and change the templates I have created to suit your needs better, then kudos to you, this site will have helped someone besides just me. If you have ideas, questions, concerns, complaints, or ideas to submit (I'll be happy to post contributed templates as well) then please feel free to leave me a comment, or e-mail me at

Bust out the popcorn, put away the pencil, and happy studying!