I first started studying Japanese the summer after my first year of college. I was still promising my parents that I would take the med school prerequisites and eventually become a doctor, but I knew going in to college that all I really wanted to do was learn Japanese. I must have had science on my brain because as I started studying, I set up a scientific analogy in my mind: Much like the electrons in atoms, Japanese adjectives and adverbs use particles to form bonds with neighboring words.

Although not technically a "particle" in the linguistic sense, the most obvious "electron" is い (i), the hiragana character that comes at the end of nearly every adjective. Takai (高い, tall), hikui (低い, low), atsui (暑い, hot), samui (寒い, cold), oishī (おいしい, delicious) and so on.

In my mind, い became the method by which adjectives were able to form bonds with nouns in order to modify them: Takai kabe (高い壁, high wall), hikui reberu (低いレベル, low level), atsui natsu (暑い夏, hot summer), oishī onigiri (おいしいおにぎり, delicious rice ball). Just link the adjective to the front of the noun and you have yourself a perfectly understandable phrase.