The first task is to learn the two phonetic syllabaries used in Japanese. Each has 46 basic symbols (plus a few extras). They’re not too hard to learn — I learned the hiragana in about a week by rote memorization. But then I bought this book and learned the katakana in about one hour!
This book is cheap and effective, and it is also an excellent primer for the methods used in the far more complex Remembering the Kanji books, which I also describe on this website.
Remembering the Kanji — study cards
If you are learning kanji using James Heisig's Remembering the Kanji books, these study cards are invaluable. Heisig recommends...
Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters
This book is a really interesting exploration into the origins of the 2000 most common kanji in Japanese. It...
Remembering the Kanji
I think this is the best method available for learning kanji, but it's not for everyone.
This first volume teaches...
Read Japanese Today
This excellent book is great value. The kanji (Chinese characters) used in Japanese seem impossible to learn at first...