The modern Japanese writing system is composed of three scripts:
- HIragana Hiragana - 48 syllables (kana) - see the pronunciation section. This script is used for grammatical words and endings and for words which be written in kanji.
- Katakana - 48 syllables used for writing foreign words, onomatopeia, etc.
- Kanji - characters borrowed Chinese. 1,136 of these are designated by the Japanese Ministry of Education as Jouyou Kanji ("characters in regular use").
- Each kana and kanji has a correct stroke order (usually up to down, left to right). It may not be the same as is used in Chinese for the same character.
- Do not try to learn too many - aim at about three a day, but revise everything you already know.
- Use every opportunity to write the kana and kanji you have learnt.
- About 75% of kanji consist of a radical on the left indicating the general area of meaning (木 tree, 魚 fish, 石 stone, etc.) and a phonetic element on the right that gives you a rough idea of the Sino-Japanese reading (on'yomi). There is a basic system - make the most of it.