What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

Quick Pronunciation Question

Peter Milne

16 May 2018
Reaction score
Hi there!

I was hoping someone could tell me the correct way to pronounce the Japanese word for dragon - ryū. There seems to be many variations among Westerners (either ree-you / rye-oo / rye-oh etc).

Any help greatly appreciated!


12 Oct 2013
Reaction score
The pronunciation for 龍 (dragon) is closest to your ree-you as you have written above. But if you pronounce it as two syllables it will inevitably come out wrong, because in Japanese it is a single-syllable word. The "ree" gets contracted with the "you", and the result is a sound that isn't found in any English word. Because westerners find it hard to approximate this sound, it gets corrupted into a more easily graspable ree-you (or any number of mispronunciations).

Note that 龍 + something else might change the pronunciation. The name of 19th-century samurai turned politician Sakamoto Ryōma (坂本龍馬) is one such example. In this case it is something like ree-yo, again with the ree combining closely with the yo to form a one-syllable word, as opposed to being pronounced as two distinct sounds.)

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Top Bottom