Learn to write (and read!) Japanese

If you want to learn Japanese, the first step is learning to read and write it. Luckily, you don't have to start with complicated Chinese characters from the get go, because Japanese also has syllabic scripts. These are like an alphabet, except that rather than individual letters (in some languages vowels and consonants, in others only consonants) they represent syllables. Japanese has two "syllabaries" called hiragana and katakana, consisting of the same syllables, but written in different styles. The first, hiragana, is used for "Japanese" things like simple words, or words for which the Chinese character form is just not used, as well as particles and verb conjugations. Katakana, on the other hand, is more of a stylistic script, generally used for foreign-derived words, as well as to emphasize text in a way similar to the western use of italic or cursive writing in a stretch of normal text.

To start learning how to read and write hiragana and/or katakana, simply click the button for the script you want to learn. Typically you want to start by learning hiragana, as this teaches you the script that you will use constantly when doing Japanese. Katakana, while important to learn, is nowhere nearly as important to learn at the very start, so you can extend your reading and writing skills with katakana once you're comfortably familiar with hiragana.