Kanji, symbolic characters of Chinese origin
Once you have learned the hiragana and katakana you should start learning the kanji. Most kanji can be pronounced in several different ways, and they can be used to convey either meaning or sound. This means that when reading a word written in kanji, it may not be possible to know how to pronounce the word without prior knowledge of how the word sounds. There are around 1,945 kanji in the Japanese government's list of recommended characters (the Jouyou Kanji), though around 3,000 kanji are in common use in newspapers. Learning to read and write kanji should be an ongoing task while you learn the Japanese language.