As a follow-up to my post above, I would like to add the following:
A pronunciation guide might be useful .... but, probably, a LOT of work to compile!
In my search for books to learn the japanese language , I have discovered that there are dozens of them, + CDs and various other audio learning methods. How to pick the right one? I have bought several. Most focus on 'conversational' japanese and kanji characters, such as how to hail a taxi or directions to the hospital or a restaurant. That, of course, is essential knowledge when one goes to Japan. But they are short on gardening terms, so they are not very useful while reading books on japanese gardening. The little book "Let's Study Japanese" by Jun Maeda seems to be a good guide to those who would learn enough japanese to travel in Japan.
Can someone tell me how essential it is to learn Kanji? I am sorry to be so ignorant ... or is it laziness?
If I am to read the japanese newspapers, I can see the need to learn it, but to read signage? Is it all in kanji as well?