Japanese Language: Katakana
Japanese has three alphabets: Chinese characters or kanji (漢字), hiragana (ひらがな) and katakana (カタカナ).
Hiragana and katakana are phonetic syllabaries made up of 46 characters.
The first five characters of both hiragana and katakana are the vowels a, i, u, e, o.
The rest of the letters are a combination of a consonant and a vowel, for example, ka, ki, ku, ke, ko and n ン - the only singular consonant.
Katakana is literally "fragmentary kana" and is square and angular in shape in comparison with the more rounded hiragana.
Katakana is often taught in Japanese kindergarten and, along with hiragana, is learnt before children begin on Chinese characters in the first grade of elementary school.
Kanji (Chinese characters) above with katakana below
How Katakana is used
Katakana is usually used in the following ways:
Katakana was developed in the Heian Period (794-1192) from parts of Chinese characters as a kind of shorthand, supposedly by students studying Buddhism.
Katakana, hiragana and kanji (Chinese characters) all in the same sentence!
Loan words such as "Museum" are written in katakana as in this sign for the Ryukoku Museum in Kyoto