Japanese Dragon, by Hokusai

Japanese Dragons (known as Ryu in Japan) are mythical creatures from Japanese mythology and folklore.


Japanese dragons were originally called Tatsu before being called Ryu.


English writer Marcus Huish described the Japanese dragon as conventionalized by Japanese artists as "A composite monster with scowling head, long straight horns, a scaly, serpentine body, a bristling row of dorsal spines, four limbs armed with claws, and curious flamelike appendages on its shoulder and hips." Some scholars emphasize its serpentine qualities as compared to the Chinese dragon.[1]

Japanese dragons are known to be lustful creatures that will mate with any animal, with an offspring between a dragon and a cow being a Kirin, a pig an elephant, and with a mare a steed of the finest breed.[1]


There are many types of the Japanese dragon, such as the violet, yellow, green, red, white, black, flying, water, and fire dragon. The Japanese version of the Ying long (winged dragon) in China is the Hai Riu, which has feathered wings, a bird's claws and tail, and a dragon's head.[1]


The Japanese dragon is along with the Chinese dragon one of the animals on the zodiac in each respective culture. Various dragons can be found on Japanese sword guards and netsukes, which may be intentionally symbolic.[1]

Notable Japanese Dragons

  • Yamata no Orochi - An evil eight-headed dragon with eight tails that was slain by the god Susanoo.
  • Ryujin - A sea deity and dragon king who is the master of serpents.[2]
  • Sui Riu - A dragon king that is a rain dragon. When he is in pain, he causes reddish rain.[1]
  • Han Riu - A dragon king. Has nine different colors. Is forty feet long. Will never ascend to heaven.[1]
  • Ka Riu - A dragon king. Is scarlet color and firey. Only seven feet long.[1]
  • Ri Riu - A dragon king. Has wonderful sight. being able to see over one hundred miles.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Chapter Nine: The Dragon in Japanese Art in Ernest Ingersoll (1928) Dragons and Dragon Lore Payson & Clarke
  2. Mark Cartwright (June 28 2017) Ryujin World History Encyclopedia'

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