When you start to learn Japanese, the first thing you need to tackle is hiragana, the basic writing system that lets you express sounds in writing. Back in my college days there were more people wanting to take Japanese 101 than could fit in the room, so my teacher declared that everyone who wanted in had to learn hiragana within a week, which got the class size down to a more manageable level in a hurry. Then it's time to roll up your sleeves and start learning vocabulary and getting used to sentences that are ordered differently from English, with the subject at the front of the sentence (when it's not omitted just for fun) followed by the object then the verb. One of the interesting things students discover is that the word "so" is exactly the same in Japanese as in English, e.g. so desu ka? Is that so? hai, so desu Yes, that's so. This took some time for me to wrap my brain around.
J-List has some good suggestions for learning Japanese.