I now have a pretty good grasp on Hiragana (the short hand Kanji system.) Thanks, pretty much entirely, to flashcards I picked up at the 100 yen store. They have written on the first card “Word Cards” and then in smaller print “You are also perfect at this flash card!” It makes me feel really good to know that I am perfect at other stuff and ALSO this flash card. It is a real ego boost. I still have trouble with some of the characters. All together there are around 71 characters to memorize. It get a little easier because some characters are repeated with little apostrophe type things to make them voiced and a circle to make them lower and voiced. For example, there is a character for “ho” (in English pronounced with a long “o” or the word “hoe.”) If the character for “ho” has a double apostrophe than it is pronounced “bo” and if the character for “ho” has a small circle next to it, it is then pronounced “po.” In this fashion all the s + vowel characters can become z + vowel characters. All the k + vowel characters become g + vowel characters, and all the t + vowel characters become d + vowel characters.
Now that I am pretty good at reading hiragana I need to do some practice with writing it. It is pretty easy to see it and recall the sound, but to really know the system (and thus make it really useful to me) I need to know how to write it. Once I can write it all I will need is my dictionary and I will be able to better communicate. Because my pronunciation is often difficult for others to understand but if I write that should be all cleared up!
Once I feel I really have hiragana down in the next few days and am decent at writing it I will start my next major task, learning katakana. This will be really helpful and a major breakthrough for me. I eagerly await the day when I can say “I am also perfect at this flash card!"