There are a few books with lists of words and kanji compounds found in the news. Like this one, this one, and this one.

However, unless one wants to spend a lot of time doing data entry, they don't lend themselves well to modern flashcard programs, both online and off.

I was wondering if there were web pages and sites that might have this kind of thing, so the words can copied more efficiently into one's flashcard program?

I suppose there are potentially two categories of words, ones that are perennially in newspapers (political, economic, and crime related terms), and ones that try and capture the current zeitgeist (popular people, recent incidents, names of places where things happened.) Both types would be helpful.

One with definitions and readings would be best. English would be ideal but not required.

On a related note, what would you search for on Google to find this kind of thing? I went along these lines:


... But it didn't get me much.

  • 1
    Here are some keywords 頻度 単語 新聞 使用頻度 日本語 語彙 高頻度語. I was able to find sentence pattern frequency, maybe you'll have better luck. Jul 23, 2011 at 17:12

4 Answers 4


The three annually revisited books: 現代用語の基礎知識, イミダス, and 知恵蔵 are particularly famous for studying the trendy words with definition/explanation. They seem to be putting things online, but some are not free. I found this one, which seems to be free. You may want to follow the 'アクセスランキング' link on it.

For your purpose, a search with '現代用語' will give you good results.


Your Amazon links get mangled by SE, so I cannot really check what is in your rejected options (since the link below is the most obvious one, I wouldn't be too surprised if it is), but just in case:

The ever reliable Japanese resource page maintained by Jim Breen offers two datasets compiled from news archive:

In 1998 Alexandre Girardi produced a word-frequency list based on 4 years of the Mainichi Shimbun. It contains about 300,000 words. Another version, which Charles Kelly at Aichi Institute of Technology tidied up, is available

Not sure it is exactly the format you are looking for, but it couldn't be far from it (being simple raw text)...

  • The text is encoded as EUC (quite common for older Japanese text files). If your text editing software cannot handle it, chances are you can open it with your browser (IE, FF or Safari), pick the right encoding and even save it back with a different encoding...
    – Dave
    Jul 28, 2011 at 6:35
  • These links are now dead. Fortunately, the data can be found within JMdict itself, under the ke_pri elements as news1/2 and nfxx. Unfortunately, the frequency data itself is really bad. For instance, it doesn't even list 行く in the top 24,000 most common words! May 8, 2021 at 3:43

I have kept a couple of these links exactly for that purpose too.

Link 1: http://www.offbeatband.com/page/2/#post-290

This one is based on novels.

Link 2: http://corpus.leeds.ac.uk/frqc/internet-jp.num

I have no idea what the tokens mean, I mean I used to know what they mean but I can't recall anyway they list the top 15k, i'd guess that's all that matters.

Link 3: http://ftp.monash.edu.au/pub/nihongo/wordfreq_ck.gz

The format is easy to extract.. The Word + TAB + The Count

Link 4 (JLPT): http://www.thbz.org/kanjimots/jlpt.php3

I'd thought i'd put it in just for completeness, note that somehow it's not updated with 5 levels.


It's not exactly what you were looking for, but would something like this be satisfactory?


Has an online quiz/flashcard Flash app for the most frequent words taken from a newspaper.

As for the words themselves, you can get the frequency list and his steps for compiling it on the quiz about page (if you want to take the same information and try to use it for some other flashcard app):



  • I then merged the counts for words which were the same, but entered in that database under different inflections.
    • My "cleaned-up" list is here: (boo, hyperlink limit; check the original page for the link here) (723 Kb.)
  • After that, I put that data through Jim Breen's WWWJDICT (Copyright Notice / EDICT link) to grab the definitions. Then I removed a certain amount of the data such as names of people, words marked as BU and other things that did not seem appropriate.


Some downsides are that the list is derived from a single newspaper over four years. Also the copyright on that page is from 2003, so I'm not sure how outdated any of the data would be.

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