Different types of Japanese characters
"Hiragana" characters are phonograms. Basically, one character corresponds to one pronunciation. There is no definite meaning for each character.
"Hiragana" is used like the English alphabet. All Japanese can be written in Hiragana, but we don't use it like that. Generally, they are used as characters which supplement the Kanji.
Japanese sentences are different from English and don't use spaces between the words. So, it is very difficult to read when not using the kanji. The meaning in the kanji can be understood from the form of the character itself.
There are 46 basic "Hiragana" characters.
"Katakana" characters are phonograms like the "Hiragana". The number of "Katakana" characters is the same as "Hiragana". "Katakana" is used when writing a word from a foreign country in a phonetic form. For example, the word "transistor" is written in "Katakana" .
"Kanji" characters are ideograms. Each character has a specific meaning. For example, "" is the character which means "tree."
The kanji was introduced from China. It is called "Kanji" because it was introduced to Japan when China was called "Kan" in the past. "ji" means "character." "Hiragana" and "Katakana" are characters which were made, transforming the kanji.
There are an enormous number of Kanji. More than thousands. I don't know all kanjis. Elementary school students (From 6 years old to 11 years old) in Japan learn 1006 kanjis. Most of the kanjis used in daily life are contained in these 1006 characters.
The list of "Hiaragana "
The list of "Katakana "