Monday, June 22, 2009


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!


  1. Great Blog! You've inspired me to start one on my Movie Method experience as well. Here's the link:

    I feel like I'm halfway between you and Alyks on using this method, as I'm using Heisig style mnemonics interposed on scenes, but at the same time. It's working pretty well so far.

    I've also added a link to your site so that people know the great work you're doing. And I'm totally using the Weird Al video. Hugs :)

  2. Thanks for the positive feedback, I'll blogroll you too!