The Japanese language is an interesting one. Reading Japanese signs, books and all sorts of written material will require you to at least know katakana, hiragana and some kanji. Each set of characters have an importance in the language.
Take for example hiragana. Those are the basic characters that will let you get by in Japan, especially if you see that the kanji have furigana, the small hiragana on top or at the side of them. Hiragana are rounded characters that show you the basic syllables of the language.
Aside from the basic hiragana, you have to also learn the more sharp and pointed characters of the katakana. Each katakana corresponds to a syllable. Sometimes you may see how the katakana resembles the hiragana or how it could have been derived from it. Katakana is generally used for foreign words, like those that have been assimilated. Take for example the word donut. In Japanese, it is written with the katakana characters donatsu. It would take a while to get used to it.
This is tougher to learn. After all, these are the more complicated ideographs. Think of the Chinese characters you see but somehow some of the Japanese ones are simpler in form. In Japan, they even have different readings for each kanji. They have what is called the onyomi and kunyomi. Kunyomi is reading it the “Japanese way.” This reading is usually for nouns, adjective or verb stem. Onyomi is when it is part of a phrase or sentence.
There is really so much to learn when it comes to the language. After all, three sets of characters could be such a task! But it’s better to be prepared when you go to Japan.