Hiragana, katakana, and Chinese characters.
Hiragana and katakana are only used in Japanese, and they both has about 50 letters each.
Plus, about 2,000 Chinese characters are generally used.
(People use Roman alphabet time to time, by the way)
Since the day I got my first word processor, (not a computer), I started loosing Chinese characters.
I can read them, but it is getting more and more difficult to write them by hand. Most people in Japan are probably the same.
Oh, people started using new type of letters!
Kao-moji (face marks or emoticons)
It is getting more and more important, as a great help in e-mail or text messages.
When I recently updated my iPhone, it had kao-moji function... a nice surprise.
Here are some examples of kao-moji.
(^_^) This is the most commonly used kao-moji; a smile.
(;_;) This one is a sad, crying face.
These two are quite old. They already existed before the age of Internet.
(Young people may not know this, but there were network service, such as Compuserve in the old days...)
Kao-moji keeps developing, more and more.
How about this one?
_|￣|○)) Please to meet you ((○|￣|_
Some explanation needed here. Two people are bowing to each other on all fours.
Would you like a cup of green tea?
... and it has nicely developed in the past 10 years or so, and kao-moji has became more and more artistic.
This one is my favorite!
| ノ ヽ
/ ● ● | Bear!!
| ( _●_) ミ
彡､ |∪| ､｀＼
/ ＿＿ ヽノ /´> )
(＿＿＿） / (_／
| ／＼ ＼
| / ) )
∪ （ ＼
I should stop here;-)
P.S. If these kao-moji above is not properly displayed, it is probably because your computer doesn't have a Japanese language software. Please don't send me complaints! LOL