I've been learning Japanese for 1.5 years already. I didn't intend to learn it, I wanted to do something to my clumsy English but failed to find courses which offered the kind of training I wanted with reasonable price, so I became frustrated with English courses and somehow ended up at Japanese courses. I have no idea why exactly I'm learning Japanese except for "LOL I want to know it". So far I've never spoken to Japanese people (well, I didn't put any efforts into putting myself in situations when I'd have to do that) and I don't even watch anime a lot.
I didn't have time to procrastinate learning kana because I started to learn Japanese at courses, so I finished it within a month. I didn't think it was hard but I still have to think sometimes when I need to write some rarely used character like ヌ. I hardly ever see this character.
As for kanji, I was pissed that I can't read words I know so I started to learn words together with how they are written very soon and it makes my life easier now.
I found out that the easiest way to learn kanji for me is:
1) Use associations with radicals if there are any. For example, I instantly learned the kanji 脱 ("undress" etc). The left part of it is 月 ("moon") and the right one looks like 兄 ("elder brother") with two short lines. I imagined such picture: it's night and the moon 月 is bright. Someone's perverted elder brother 兄 (with horns) is peeping how a girl undresses 脱 before going to bed.
It's hard to forget such things XD By the way, the dictionary says that 脱 doesn't have 兄 in it, but it's written like that so it's not important.
2) If there are no associations, I just need to memorise the kanji with it's radicals and stroke order if it's unusual. The best way for doing it for me is to pick one or more kanji and write them once or twice, then do whatever I was doing for some time, then write them again etc. Then cover the kanji and write them looking only at their meanings.
When I do this, the results are much better then when I waste 5 minutes to write each kanji a hundred times - it starts being automatic after three-four characters and then it's all useless.
Also, it's much easier for me to learn new words consisting of kanji with Chinese readings when I know how they are written. It gives meaning for all those syllables which sound completely the same even if they are different.
Here are some pages I used or still use:
Totally awesome dictionary
Denshi Jisho - Online Japanese dictionary
Adds kanji readings for web pages. Great help when you don't feel like searching each unknown kanji by radicals.
(this forum insists on putting a title to this link and the title doesn't feel very good O.o)
Learn Hiragana and Katakana â€“ Real Kana
Japanese for the Western Brain
A small accent dictionary (no one ever teaches accents, even though Japanese language has them instead of stress - I wonder how the results sound for Japanese)
Japanese Accent Study Website
I completely forgot about Denshi Jisho. Such a good site. I guess I forgot because I just kind of automatically go there when I need to look up something. ^.^;