The Japanese Unicorn Kirin

The Japanese Unicorn Kirin


Today, we’re going to talk about one of the rarest unicorn species in the World. This unicorn lives in Japan and it is called kirin.

The Japanese unicorn kirin is similar to the Chinese unicorn qilin. The name kirin is also a Japanized version of the Chinese name qilin.

Let’s have a look at this fascinating mythical creature.

We’re going to talk about the differences and similarities between the qilin and kirin. I’m also going to list some TV shows and games in which kirin is seen.

By the way, there’s even a Japanese beer named after the Japanese unicorn!

To finish today’s post, I’m going to make a personal revelation related to kirin.


The Japanese Unicorn Kirin – A Shy Creature of the Paradise

The Japanese unicorn kirin is a shy and solitary creature. It can live up to a thousand years. Normally, kirin avoids any kind of confrontations.

The male kirin is called ki and the female kirin is called lin. Kirins are said to live in paradise, but when they appear on Earth, they probably choose peaceful forests.

Kirin Is a Pure and Benevolent Creature, But It Doesn’t Tolerate Evil.

Like the Chinese unicorn qilin, the Japanese unicorn kirin is known as a benevolent creature that brings good luck. Kirins are known as the omens of a wise leader.

Kirin is a pure and holy animal, and it follows the Buddhist virtues. Kirins never eat flesh or harm other living creatures. They even avoid walking on grass, so that they wouldn’t harm even the smallest creatures. They prefer walking on clouds and water instead.

Kirin is able to tell the good from the evil, and the innocent from the guilty. While kirin is a gentle creature, it does not tolerate any lies or evil. Kirin cannot be tricked, and when it detects the guilty person, it pierces through the evildoer’s heart.

top 3 mythical creatures in china and japan

The Most Powerful Mythical Creature in Japan Is Extremely Rare.

In China, the qilin is the third most powerful mythical creature after the dragon and the phoenix. In Japan, kirin is considered the most powerful of all mythical creatures.


It is extremely rare to see a kirin. They only appear during times of World peace or before the birth of a benevolent ruler.

Kirin statues can be found in many Japanese temples and shrines.

A One-Horned Deer

The Chinese unicorn qilin is a rather dragon-like creature, but the Japanese unicorn kirin is depicted more like a one-horned deer.

Sometimes kirin has scales like a dragon, and it has a tail of an ox. Kirin can have a horse-like appearance too, but its horn points backward.

japanese unicorn kirin

Kirin’s horn is sometimes like a deer’s antler with branches. Actually, I have seen images of kirin with two antlers, so it’s not technically a unicorn then.

Kirin always has very intent eyes and a heavenly voice.

Kirin in Popular Culture

Kirin is seen on the Japanese anime seriesThe Twelve Kingdoms” (十二国記Jūni Kokki), based on the fantasy novel series written by Fuyumi Ono. In this series, the monarch of each kingdom is chosen by a kirin.

Kirin is seen in the role-playing video game series Final Fantasy as a monster, as a god, and as a mount.

In the fantasy tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, kirin is also granted a role of a monster.

Kirin appears on season 8 of the animated series “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic“.

The Kirin Brewery Company and Kirin Beer

The Japanese Kirin brewery company‘s logo portrays the Japanese unicorn kirin. The mythical unicorn shows off on the bottles and cans of beer brewed by this company.

I admit it might have something to do with the unicorn logo, but Kirin beer is my favorite beer. Well, it’s not just the logo, it’s the taste too.

Kirin lager and Kirin Ichiban are two of the most popular beers in Japan. Actually, that’s fitting as the Japanese word ichiban一番 means number one.

The Japanese Unicorn Kirin – One of a Kind

The Japanese unicorn kirin is a benevolent creature. Like the Chinese unicorn qilin, kirin is able to tell the truth from the lie. It is often seen as an omen of a good leader.

Kirin refuses to eat flesh or harm living creatures. It can be fierce against evildoers, though.

In Japan, kirin is considered the most powerful of all mythical creatures.

While the Chinese unicorn qilin resembles a dragon, the Japanese unicorn kirin looks more like a one-horned deer.

Kirin is a character in many television series and games, made both in Japan and in Western countries.

The mythical creature kirin is portrayed in the logo of the Japanese brewery company Kirin Limited.

The Japanese unicorn kirin is perhaps the rarest of all the unicorn species. Even if you visit Japan, it is unlikely you would ever meet a kirin. That’s because kirin only appears during periods of World peace or before the birth of a benevolent ruler.

If you have any questions or comments about the Japanese unicorn, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Learn about other locations where unicorns live.

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9 Comments

  1. I would love to see a Kirin. My daughter and I went to Japan and went to the bamboo forests. Our trip was beautiful, but didn’t get to see a Kirin. The food was delicious, every picture taken of me was munching on something. I love Kirin beer but my daughter gave me a look. She said “mama, I’m not gonna drag you all over Kyoto , riding trains, buses, walking , hours back to the hotel!” Our trip was on a budget and trains and buses and tons of walking was the norm. Plus I get lazy when I eat and drink to contentment.
    During my college years friends and I hung out at a restaruant bar called Kirin. We would drink till early morning before the sun rise. we all felt so invincible , free, and fierce enough to be able to do anything. My friends and I reminisce about those days. 🦄❤️

    1. Ha ha! I love Kirin beer too, it’s my favorite beer. Japan is such a special place, isn’t it? I’ve been there 8 times, but sadly I’ve never seen a Kirin either. After all, the Japanese unicorn is the rarest of all unicorn species, and it hardly ever shows itself to humans.

      Restaurant Kirin, sounds like an awesome place! Did you drink Kirin beer there, or did they have it in the menu? 🍺🦄

  2. This is getting interesting by the second. I first heard of the Japanese Kirin a little while back and it turns out that the mythical creature is revered to an astonishing degree. Clearly, the Chinese qiling is not the most powerful mythical creature in China. But it appears that they both have a great amount of significance in the two nations. Great post.

    1. Hi Rhain,

      Thank you! Yes, in China, the dragon is the number one mythical creature (it used to be qilin at some point in history, though). 

  3. Interesting. Lol I stumbled upon this post when I was looking up what kirin meant I thought it was a dragon. I keep seeing the name “fire Kirin or kirin storm or kirin ll and kirin links” on online casinos I play on my phone or laptop. They are actual games you can find at casinos or as they like to call them in florida “internet cafes”. I was simply just curious what the heck “kirin” meant due to the fact they always have a drogon with fire on the games picture. Most of the kirin games are “fishing games” or “fish games” where you shoot at fish and dragons and random theme based characters for money. I’ve seen one slot game with kirin in the name but it is most popular as a fish game. Thanks for the info. Peace