3 Ways to Say “Dragon” in Japanese (Cool Words & Kanji)

How to Say Dragon in Japanese - Best Words and Kanji

In today’s vocabulary lesson, you are going to learn how to saydragon” in Japanese. Generally speaking, there are 3 Japanese words for “dragon“, but each of them has a slightly different meaning. As usual, I want to start by giving you a quick answer and telling you the most important words.

Ryuu (竜, 龍) and doragon (ドラゴン) are the common words for “dragon” in Japanese. The word ryuu (竜, 龍) usually refers to Chinese and eastern-style dragons, while the English loanword doragon (ドラゴン) is more commonly used when talking about western-style dragons.

Read on if you want to know all 3 ways of how to saydragon” in Japanese and why there are 4 different ways how the word is written in Japanese. In the advanced section, I will teach you a bunch of other cool words such as “black dragon“, “fire dragon“, and so on.

How to Say “Dragon” in Japanese

  • ryuu – 竜, 龍
  • doragon – ドラゴン
  • tatsu – 辰

1. Ryuu – Japanese Word for “Dragon” or “Chinese Dragon”

Ryuu (竜, 龍) is the original Japanese word for “dragon“. It is usually used to refer to the long snake-lake Chinese dragons or eastern-style dragons. In Japanese, the word is usually written with the easier kanji 竜 (ryuu), but you can also use the traditional Chinese one, which is 龍 (ryuu).

Both kanji (竜, 龍) can also be read as “ryou” and “tatsu“, but judging from my own experience “ryuu” is most commonly used when you want to talk aboutdragons” in Japanese. However, there are some kanji compound words such as 蟠龍 (hanryou) meaning “coiled dragon” that only use the reading “ryou“.



2. Doragon – English Loanword for Western-Style “Dragon”

The English loanword doragon (ドラゴン) also meansdragon” in Japanese, but in contrast to the original Japanese word “ryuu” (竜, 龍), it is more commonly used when referring to western-style dragons – the one with wings. The word is also commonly used in game titles and anime.


The popular game Dragon Quest for example is called Doragon Kuesuto (ドラゴンクエスト) in Japanese. Same goes for the famous anime Dragon Ball, which also uses the English loanword for dragon instead of the original Japanese word and is titled Doragon Booru (ドラゴンボール).

3. Tatsu – Japanese Word for the Zodiac Sign “the Dragon”

Another less frequently encountered Japanese word for dragon is Tatsu (辰), but this word is usually only used to refer to the fifth sign of the Chinese zodiac, which is named “the Dragon“. In the past, it was also used for the “hour of the Dragon“, which takes place in the morning at around 8 am.

Nowadays, you should only use the word “tatsu” when talking about the Chinese zodiac sign.


the Dragon (5th Zodiac Sign)

Advanced Words Related to “Dragon” in Japanese

  • black dragon – 黒竜, 黒龍
  • fire dragon – 火竜, 火龍
  • red dragon – 赤竜, 赤龍
  • water dragon – 水竜, 蛟龍
  • blue dragon – 青龍, 青竜
  • ice dragon – 氷竜, 氷龍
  • white dragon – 白竜, 白龍

Black Dragon – Kokuryuu

Kokuryuu (黒竜, 黒龍) is a Japanese word that means “black dragon“. It can be written with the easier Japanese kanji for “dragon”, which is 竜 (ryuu), or the older traditional Chinese kanji, which is 龍 (ryuu). The first kanji 黒, which can be read as “koku” or “kuro“, means “black“.

black dragon

Another way how you can say “black dragon” is by adding the adjective for the color “black, which is kuroi (黒い), before the Japanese word for dragon. Like this, you literally describe a dragon as black.

kuroi ryuu
black dragon
a dragon that is black

Fire Dragon – Karyuu

The Japanese word karyuu (火竜, 火龍) translates as “fire dragon” or “firedrake“. Ka (火), the first Chinese character, stands for the second of the five elementsfire“, but can also mean “flame” or “blaze“. Instead of “karyuu” the kanji compound can also be read as “karyou“.

karyuu, karyou
fire dragon

Red Dragon – Sekiryuu

Sekiryuu (赤竜, 赤龍) is the name of a mythical red dragon in Japan that has deep red skin and was born out of the sun and a volcano. The first kanji 赤 is the Chinese character for “red, “crimson red“, or “scarlet red“. An alternative reading of the red dragon’s name is “sekiryou“.

sekiryuu, sekiryou
red dragon

A red dragon can also be called “akai ryuu” (赤い竜, 赤い龍) in Japanese. Akai (赤い) is an adjective meaning “red and is the word commonly used to describe animals, things, and other objects that have a red color.

akai ryuu
red dragon
a dragon that is red

Water Dragon – Suiryuu

Suiryuu (水竜) is the basic Japanese word you can use to say “water dragon“. The first kanji 水 (sui) is the kanji for water. Alternatively, you can use mizuchi or kouryuu (蛟龍), which is the name of a legendary dragon-like creature that is connected to water and ascends to the heavens through the rain.

water dragon

mizuchi, kouryuu
the Mizuchi
water dragon

Blue Dragon – Seiryuu

Seiryuu (青龍, 青竜), also known as shouryou and seiryou, means “blue dragon” or “Azure Dragon“. It is the name of the dragon god that is said to rule over the eastern heavens. The first kanji 青 is the Chinese character for “blue” or “azure“, but can also mean “green“.

seiryuu, seiryou, shouryou
blue dragon
Azure Dragon

In Japanese something blue is described as aoi (青い). So you can also say aoi ryuu (青い竜) when you want to talk about a dragon that is blue or want to say “blue dragon” in Japanese.

aoi ryuu
blue dragon
a dragon that is blue

Ice Dragon – Hyouryuu

If you want to say ice dragon in Japanese you can use the word hyouryuu (氷竜, 氷龍), but it can also be written in romaji as hyoryuu or hyoryu. The first kanji 氷 means “ice“, “icicle“, or “hail” while the second kanji (竜 or 龍) is the word and Chinese character for “dragon“.

ice dragon

In the anime Bleach, for example, the Japanese name of one of captain Toshiro Hitsugaya’s techniques is “Hyouryuu Senbi” (氷竜旋尾), which translates as “ice dragon tail” or “swirling ice dragon tail“.

White Dragon – Hakuryuu

Hakuryuu or hakuryou (白竜, 白龍) is the Japanese word for “white dragon“. Haku (白) is the Japanese kanji for “white and combined with the Japanese kanji for “dragon”, which is 竜 or 龍, you get the Japanese term for “white dragon

hakuryuu, hakuryou
white dragon

Instead of the noun for “white”, you can also use the adjective, which is shiroi (白い), and place it in front of the word ryuu to say “white dragon” in Japanese.

shiroi ryuu
white dragon
a dragon that is white


おはよう. I'm Alex. I have started studying Japanese when I was still a high school student and I have been living and working in Japan since 2015. I'm still learning new Japanese phrases and words every day and I thought that publishing them online will be useful for you, too. Hopefully, my study notes and free Japanese lessons will help you to reach the Japanese level you want to have! If you want to practice your Japanese for free follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram.

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