When first starting out in Japanese, the best thing one can do is to learn Kana as soon as possible. Despite missing some key features of pronunciation such as pitch accent, kana serve as a very accurate guide to Japanese pronunciation.
Writing System – Kanji
The third and final script used in Japanese is Kanji. The word Kanji itself means Chinese Characters. Kanji are a system of logograms that were originally borrowed from China and retrofitted to meet the needs of the Japanese language. Logograms are characters that are used to represent words and morphemes directly. For example, the words ひと (person) and みず (water) can be written in kanji as 人 and 水。
At first glance this seems pretty straight forward. However, Japanese is a language that is fundamentally different from all varieties of Chinese, and this has severely complicated the way kanji have been adopted into Japanese.
Writing System – Katakana
The second Japanese script is Katakana, a syllabary that functions almost identically to Hiragana. There are 46 basic characters used in modern writing, as well as 2 archaic characters ヰ(wi) and ヱ (we) for a total of 48 characters.
Writing System – Hiragana
As mentioned in the introduction, the first of the three Japanese scripts is Hiragana, a phonetic script called a syllabary where each character represents a whole syllable. Here is a basic hiragana chart showing the modern 46 characters plus the 2 archaic characters ゐ (wi) and ゑ(we) for a total of 48 characters.
Writing System – Introduction
The Japanese writing system is unique in that it is composed of 3 distinct scripts that are mixed together. These three scripts are called Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.