Katakana (カタカナ) is another component of the Japanese writing system, mainly used for foreign or loan words used within the Japanese Language. It is very similar to Hiragana in terms of outright sounds, and similarly each symbol represents either a vowel or consonant and vowel combination. Most of the characters are derived from existing Kanji, but in a more simplified form.
Katakana could be considered very similar to the use of italics in the English language, as its main use is for foreign or loan words which have been borrowed for use in the Japanese language. In contrast to Hiragana, it is only used for foreign words and other references such as names, onomatopoeia and technical and scientific terms relating to plants, animals and the like.
In terms of the Katakana writing system, there is only a limited number of symbols to remember, similar in number and combination to Hiragana. As a result, I would recommend learners of the Japanese language to learn this system after Hiragana.
To support your studies, you can also download a free PDF copy of our FAQ Japan – Katakana Guide.