dragon; imperial; "big dragon" radical
Kanji 1899

Thank you for visiting this Character Home Page. Below you'll find a synopsis of the essay. If you wish to read the full text, the PDF of the essay is available for purchase to the right.


Unlike Europeans, who have feared dragons, the Japanese have viewed them as mythical or divine since ancient times. The dragon is even more important in China, where it symbolizes the emperor, is associated with water and weather, and is an imaginary creature in legends. In this essay you'll find out about dragons from every angle, including the following: animals with dragons inside them, tense relations between dragons and tigers, dragons that fly away, and the dragon inside the waterfall kanji. In more practical terms, you'll read about Chinese dragon boats, as well as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, who both had connections to dragons. Finally, you'll discover whatever there is to know about the "dragon" radical—and why one might be tempted to call it the "hidden dragon" radical. Incidentally, 竜 is a Shin-Joyo kanji; it's a 2010 addition to the Joyo set.

Revision history:

February 27, 2013: On Sidebar 1 (page 3), I changed the yomi of 竜神川  from りゅうじんかわ to りゅうじんがわ, which is the more probable reading. Also fixed the 2nd link in that sidebar.

August 31, 2012: Added five great photos! You'll find them on pages 12, 18, 19, and 20. 


eve's picture
The king and queen of Bhutan traveled to Soma, a city in the Japanese disaster area, and here's what the king told the children there: "There are dragons in all of our hearts. Dragons grow by eating experiences. And they become stronger and stronger over the years. You must always be in control of the dragons."
eve's picture
In further news (very old news, actually!) related to the disaster area, this April 2011 article from the Asahi Shimbun has a photo (the 3rd one) that includes 龍, the old form of the dragon kanji:

The article says that's part of the boat name. They didn't say why someone would name a boat 龍王丸 (りゅうおうまる), but I'm wondering if it's because people associate dragons with the water. It may be that the fishermen (and fisherwomen) are appealing to a dragon god for luck with fishing.

Here's the English version of the article (in which the photos no longer show up, at least not for me right now):
eve's picture
Interesting Daily Yomiuri article ( on ways in which various Japanese towns/locales are emphasizing their connections to dragons as a marketing ploy in the Year of the Dragon. Of particular interest to kanjiphiles:

"Fukui Prefecture, which has been dubbed a 'dinosaur kingdom' following the discovery of dinosaur fossils there, is also turning to the dragon to boost tourism. As the Japanese word for dinosaur, 'kyoryu,' contains the kanji for dragon, the Fukui prefectural government decided to call 2012 'the year of the dragon'--writing it with the kanji for dinosaur--in the hope of attracting more visitors to the prefecture.... An official of the prefectural government said, "It might be a bit of a stretch to link dinosaurs with dragons, but we'd like to set an energetic mood for the city, like a rising dragon."


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RADICAL竜 (212: big dragon)