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What generally accepted mnemonic phrases are there in Japanese that are used for memorizing a sequence of numbers or words?

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I got bored, so I thought it's time for me to ask some questions. If you think it is off topic, feel free to vote to close. I request this to be converted to a community wiki. –  sawa Sep 17 '11 at 2:32
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Not the same as your question, but definitely useful to understand its answers: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/853/… –  Dave Sep 17 '11 at 3:33
    
I'm not yet able to understand the Japanese in the answers given so far, but have either of the answers taught anything about Japanese that a reader would have not known before, such as "this is a now-rarely-used way to say the number three"? –  Andrew Grimm Sep 19 '11 at 8:23

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The ones that I am most familiar with are for tying historical events to years. They can be found in vast numbers on websites like these ones and in exam study guides.

I'm not sure about "generally accepted"; some are probably more widely known than others. I would not be surprised to observe patterns corresponding to the 流派 (schools) of traditional Japanese arts, where the goroawase students learn can be linked to geographical location/study guide used/target school/etc.

I am personally fond of the variants on "naku yo uguisu" in your example (e.g. "haku yo uguisu", "the warbler vomits" for 894, etc.), and of course "Iroiro sankyū, Porutogaru" for 1639 when Japan's ports were officially closed to Portuguese ships.

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The ones that make sense (very roughly) like 吐くよ are fun. –  sawa Sep 17 '11 at 13:11
  • Square root of two

    1.41421356...
    人世人世に人見頃 (ひとよひとよにひとみごろ)
    'It's peoples world; peoples world. It's time to observe people.'

  • Square root of three

    1.7320508...
    人並みにおごれや (ひとなみにおごれや)
    'Treat me as if you do to other people.'

  • Square root of five

    2.2360679...
    富士山麓オーム啼く (ふじさんろくオームなく)
    'Base of Mt. Fuji, a parrot cries.'

  • Base of natural logarithm

    2.718281828459045...
    鮒一鉢、二鉢、一鉢、二鉢、至極おいしい (ふなひとはちふたはちしごくおいしい)
    'One bowl, two bowls, one bowl, two bowls of crucian carp. Very delicious.'

  • Months that do not have 31 days

    2, 4, 6, 9, 11
    西向く士 (にしむくさむらい)
    'A samurai facing west'

  • Beginning year of the Heian era

    794
    啼くよ鶯、平安京 (なくようぐいすへいあんきょう)
    'Crying is a bush warbler, the Heian capital.'

  • Beginning year of the Kamakura era

    1192
    いい国作ろう、鎌倉幕府 (いいくにつくろうかまくらばくふ)
    'Let's make a good country: The Kamakura shogunate.'

  • Order of first elements in the periodic table

    H (水素, すいそ), He, Li, Be, B, C, N, O, F, Ne, Na, Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Cl, Ar, K, Ca
    水兵リーベ僕の船 名前があるシップス クラークか (すいへいリーベぼくのふねなまえ…)
    'Sailor, Liebe (de:love), my boat. Ships with names; maybe Clark?'

  • Chemical elements in the halogen group

    F (フッ素; ふっそ), Cl (塩素; えんそ 'chlorine'), Br (臭素; しゅうそ 'bromine'), I (ヨウ素; ヨウそ 'iodine'), At (アンチモン 'antimony')
    ふっくらブラジャー、愛の痕 (ふっくらブラジャーあいのあと)
    'A plumpy brasier: trace of love'

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At last, an easy way to remember the chemical elements in the halogen group! –  Matt Sep 17 '11 at 6:29
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I added a long mnemonic for the first elements of the periodic table. The first sentence is standard, but convention seems to vary quite wildly after that. Maybe there's a more standard ending. –  Hyperworm Sep 17 '11 at 10:34
    
[[ 西向く士 (にしむくさむらい) ]] I'm not seeing how さむらい relates to 11. –  istrasci Sep 18 '11 at 4:02
    
@istrasci is interpreted as + , which is 11, and is read さむらい, which is sort of ateji. –  sawa Sep 18 '11 at 4:24

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