The written language of Japan is a combination of Chinese derived ideograms (Kanji) and phonetic syllabary (Kana - also derived from Chinese ideograms - just not quite as directly as the Kanji). With 1945 Jouyou Kanji and 92 Kana (not counting the variations created by dakuten and handakuten diacritical marks which add 25 more sounds) in the 'minimum for literacy' you might think that learning written Japanese an overwhelming task. But the spelling in kana is phonetic (unlike English where the spelling of a word and its pronunciation are frequently at heavy odds). And consider that learning the 1945 kanji 'words' is a smaller task than learning the spelling of the thousands of english words required for basic literacy in english and it does not seem so overwhelming. Indeed - much as when learning english spelling, you rapidly discover that common patterns radically simplify the overall task of learning the Japanese writing system.