Okay, I can’t actually promise that you’ll become a king just by learning the Japanese word for it. But you never know! Stranger things have happened!
The Japanese word for king is one of those “all or nothing” words. Either you will never use it and therefore never need to know it, or you will encounter it all the flippin’ time!
If you primarily only use Japanese to talk with natives, then you might only hear the word king used once a month. When it comes to how frequently it gets used, it’s number 3,521. So not really all that common.
But if you play games like Dragon Quest, or read manga like One Piece, then you’re going to see it a lot! And let me tell you, the kanji for king gets attached to almost everything that is related to kings and royalty!
Alright, enough of my rambling. How do you say king in Japanese? Let’s find out now!
How Do You Say King in Japanese?
The basic word for king in Japanese is 王 (ō), but you will rarely ever see it as just that one kanji. It is much more common to see 王様 (ō sama) which has the big honorific 様 (sama) attached to it.
In English 王様 would be like saying, “his royal majesty the king” as opposed to 王 which would be more like just saying “king.”
That kanji for king gets used in many compound words that are not specifically “king,” but instead bring the meaning of “royalty” to them. Here are a couple of common ones that you will most likely encounter:
王室 / おうしつ / Royal family
女王 / じょおう / Queen
王朝 / おうちょう / Dynasty
王座 / おうざ / Throne
王冠 / おうかん / Crown
王物 / おうもの / Royalty
What’s nice is that the kanji 王 only has the one reading of おう, so it is really easy to remember and use when it’s a part of other words.
But the unfortunate thing is that the above words don’t always mean what you would think they mean based off of their kanji.
女王 uses the kanji for “woman” and “king” so it makes sense that it’s the word for “queen” in Japanese.
But 王室 uses the words for “king” and “room” which you would think means something like “royal chambers” or even “the royal throne room,” but it is neither of these places. It means “royal family” in Japanese.
So just be aware that you can’t always guess what the word means based off of the kanji it uses.
What Kind of King?
Most likely the way that you are going to see the word king used is in describing what kind of king the person is.
For example, in the post I wrote about dragons, you would say 竜王 (ryū ō) for Dragon king.
Is it as simple as adding 王 after the noun? Pretty much.
竜王 / りゅうおう / Dragon king
海賊王 / かいぞくおう / Pirate king
国王 / こくおう / King (of a country)
魔王 / まおう / Demon king
Besides the above method for talking about the type of king, there is also another.
It uses the word 王者 (ō ja) which is a combination of the words for “king” and “person” in Japanese. It normally translates as just “king; ruler,” but can be combined in the below way to also talk about different types of kings:
raion wa dōbutsu no ō ja da.
The lion is king of the beasts (beast king).
ore wa mori no ō ja da!
I am king of the forest (forest king)!
And of course, there’s an English loan word for king: キング.
Have you heard any of these words before? Do you know of any other ways to say king in Japanese?
Let me know with a comment below!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: