Japanese Unicorn Kirin
Unicorn Knowledge

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 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, kirins avoid any kind of confrontations.

The male kirin is called a ki and the female kirin is called a lin. Kirins are said to live in the 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 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, 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 backwards.

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. On this series, the monarch of each kingdom is chosen by a kirin.

Kirin is seen in the role-play 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 with a role of a monster.

Kirin appears on the 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’.

Kirin Is My Special Unicorn.

OK, it’s time for the personal revelation related to the Japanese unicorn kirin.

I’m very fond of this creature. Actually, I like it so much, that the first tattoo I had 10 years ago is a kirin. Yes, that’s the revelation; I have a kirin tattoo. 🙂

My kirin tattoo is a horse-like creature with a very long tail of an ox. It has some scales on its back, and its horn points backwards. I think my kirin tattoo is pretty cool, what do you think?

japanese unicorn kirin tattoo
My kirin tattoo

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 the Western countries.

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

The Japanese unicorn kirin is perhaps rarest of all the unicorn species. Even if you visit Japan, it is unlikely you would ever meet a kirin. That’s because kirins 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. Have a magical day.

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  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. Many thanks to you for giving us such a beautiful article and for knowing about Japanese unicorn through your article and I have been very interested in it since I was a kid. When I was five years old, I lived in Japan with my father. And then I found out about Japanese unicorn and I had a Japanese unicorn tattoo in my hand. And I’ve had this tattoo on my hand for a long time and I’m so happy when I read your article because you wrote about it and I hope that after reading your article, many will know about it. And as happy as I am to see your article, I hope many others like me will be happy and share their experiences with you. May I share your article on my social media?

    1. Hi Shanta, 

      I’m happy to see you back to my site. Really, you have a Japanese unicorn tattoo too? I thought I must not be the only one!

      Please do share this post on social media, I would appreciate it very much. Thank you for leaving a comment with your experiences of the Japanese unicorn!