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Ichiban Kasuga (春日 一番, Kasuga Ichiban) is the main protagonist of the Yakuza series from Yakuza: Like a Dragon onward, as well as the main protagonist of The Legend of Ichiban Kasuga: Part 1 in Ryu ga Gotoku Online.

The dragonfish tattoo on his back earned him the nickname "The Rock-Bottom Dragon" (どん底の龍, Donzoko no Ryū).



Described as having been born with "nothing but physical strength," Kasuga has a balanced muscular build that gives him the opportunity to be proficient at a variety of fighting styles. His eyes are grey and he has medium-length dark hair styled into an afro after his release from prison, as well as a beard. Prior to this, his hair was styled into a much shorter punch perm, growing out long enough during his time in prison to be tied into a short ponytail.


Kasuga's dragonfish tattoo

Kasuga's tattoo covers most of his back and ends just above his thighs. It depicts a dragonfish (龍魚, ryūgyo), the in-between state of the koi in the legend of a koi that swims up to the top of a waterfall and is rewarded for its tenacity by being transformed into a dragon. The tattoo represents the strength and perseverance of the koi as it struggles upstream, as well as a greater destiny that lies ahead, as the koi has not fully finished its transformation into a dragon.

Ryu ga Gotoku Online: Kasuga's inspiration for the tattoo was Jo Sawashiro, whose tattoo depicts the same creature. The two both hold a strong admiration for Masumi Arakawa and view him as the 'dragon' they aspire to be. Only the outlines of the tattoo are filled in up until Chapter 21, but it is seen in its completed state in the rest of the game.

Utabori is the tattoo artist who designed Kasuga's dragonfish, and he incorporated elements from both Kazuma Kiryu and Akira Nishikiyama's tattoos in its design. For reasons unknown, Utabori did not include his signature in Kasuga's tattoo.


Kasuga's signature attire consists of a maroon suit worn over a white shirt with an upturned collar and a gold chain necklace. He also wears black leather loafers with gold buckles and a matching black leather belt with a gold buckle. When assigned his unique class, Hero, the way he envisions his attire changes slightly in battle; his sleeves are rolled up to the elbow, he wears black leather gloves, and his necklace is replaced by a red silk ascot.


Kasuga is a fiercely loyal and steadfast individual, perhaps to a fault. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is prone to letting his emotions get the best of him, whether it be sheer rage or getting overly excitable. However, he has a strong sense of justice and is always willing to help out anyone in need. Kasuga is also a huge fan of Dragon Quest, a video game he loved to play ever since his youth. This contributed to his strong sense of imagination where he imagines his battles as if they were a turn-based JRPG. This imagination has also made him a quick thinker and a creative tactician in battles despite his rash and impulsive demeanor.

One of Kasuga's notable traits is his unfailing kindness and general love for people. These traits have made him an infectiously charismatic person that never fails to inspire admiration from the people around him. He cares deeply about his party members and leads them with grace and in turn, they stand by him and are ready to have his back no matter how overwhelming the odds are.


SPOILER WARNING: Major plot details for Yakuza: Like a Dragon follow. (Skip)

Kasuga was born to Akane and Masumi Arakawa on New Year's Day, 1977, in Shangri-La. He was hidden in coin locker #101 at Shinjuku Station by Akane on Arakawa's instructions in order to keep him safe while they were being pursued by members of Hikawa Industries; however, Arakawa unknowingly retrieved the baby locked in the adjacent locker #99. Kasuga was instead taken in by Shangri-La's manager, Jiro Kasuga, and raised by the people of Kamurocho. Although beloved, he lived in poverty and the people who raised him were considered "trash" by the rest of society. To escape this reality, he spent his nights playing Dragon Quest in the back office of the soapland and dreaming of being a hero one day.

After the death of his father, he stopped going to junior high school at fifteen and resorted to whatever means necessary to earn money and support himself, leaving his education behind for good. He spent most of his days fighting people for money, regardless of who they were. However, one day, he severely injured and hospitalized a yakuza. The family the yakuza belonged to sought revenge and managed to capture him. They beat Kasuga to the brink of death, and fearing for his life he blurted out the name of a feared yakuza, Masumi Arakawa, saying that if they killed him they'd be hearing from him; in reality, he had never met the man and was only aware of him due to his reputation as "Killer" Arakawa.

Kasuga hoped mentioning his name would somehow get him free, but it only backfired. The family that held him captive were enemies of the Arakawa Family. They summoned Arakawa to their office and asked him to collect Kasuga in person, assuming Kasuga was part of his family. To Kasuga's surprise, Arakawa arrived. The men demanded he takes responsibility for Kasuga's actions. Arakawa offered them his finger in exchange for Kasuga's freedom and the men quickly let Kasuga go.

Kasuga followed Arakawa and tried to thank him, but Arakawa punched him, saying he didn't cut his finger off for his sake. He explained to Kasuga that being a yakuza meant you had a reputation to uphold, and he would have lost face if he simply bowed his head and asked for him back. Kasuga asked him why he would go to such lengths for someone he didn't even know, to which Arakawa responded, "Maybe I just wanted to look cool in front of a kid who knew who I was."

Kasuga decided then and there he'd follow Arakawa for the rest of his life. He waited outside of the Arakawa Family office for one hundred days before Arakawa finally broke down and agreed to swear him into the family at sixteen, against Jo Sawashiro's wishes. The two went on to become akin to father and son, with Kasuga being tasked as his adoptive brother, Masato Arakawa's care sometime after his induction to the family.


Yakuza: Like a Dragon: 2000-2019[]

In December 31, 2000, Ichiban Kasuga is on a collections job, chasing Ushio down the streets of Kamurocho. After beating him up and getting the money he earned from selling misleadingly-labeled animal mating videos, Kasuga has Mitsuo Yasumura return the money to all the deceived buyers. He heads to a cigarette shop he usually visits to get a plunger for the Shangri-La staff. Later, he fights Koji Hiratsuka and takes his wallet, as he didn't want to take money from someone trying to help his sick mother and is still technically following Jo Sawashiro's order. He later takes Masato to the cabaret club he frequents and receives money from him, which he tries to use as payment for his captain, who notices the band around the money belonging to the bank Masato uses. Sawashiro tries to have Kasuga's finger cut off, but Arakawa interrupts them and takes Kasuga out and tells him about the story of Masato's birth. They try to find a restaurant where they can eat Peking duck, but it is closed, so they part ways and Kasuga watches the New Year fireworks on a bench before falling asleep on it.

On the 1st of January, 2001, Kasuga is called into the Arakawa Family office, where Arakawa informs him of Jo Sawashiro's involvement in the murder of a member of the Sakaki Family. Arakawa asks Kasuga to shoulder the blame and go to prison on Sawashiro's behalf. Kasuga is more than happy to oblige, believing this to be the chance he had been waiting for to repay Arakawa for all he'd done for him. It is also revealed he was officially banished from the clan. After going to Akaushimaru for his last meal, a beef bowl, he turns himself in to the police and is sentenced to 15 years in jail. An incident in the summer of 2002 where he beats up inmates for insulting his boss leads to him briefly being placed in solitary confinement and having his sentence extended to 18 years.

In 2019, Kasuga is freed from prison with no one from his old days waiting for him. He meets Koichi Adachi, who did his research on Kasuga, who is not interested in a partnership with Adachi. He tries to get a punch perm haircut, however, the barber did not know how to do one as punch perms had fallen out of style, resulting in Kasuga's afro. He visits the grave of Chikao Suzumori, the man whose murder he took the fall for, where he sees the Arakawa Family and his former patriarch, but is turned away. Afterwards, he is surprised and angered to find that while he was away, the Tojo Clan was exiled, and the Omi Alliance is now in control. He is even more shocked to find out that his boss and father figure, Arakawa, was supposedly the man who betrayed the Tojo and let the Omi into Kamurocho. He demands Adachi take him to Kamurocho, but is told by him that nothing is left for him there. He goes anyway.

Kasuga arrives in Kamurocho and is shocked by how much society changed during his prison term. He roams around, meeting familiar faces such as Michiyo and Ushio, getting in trouble with the Omi Alliance in the process. He ends his tour at Shangri-La. The sight of his birthplace so run down leaves him dejected. Adachi joins him, having predicted Kasuga would arrive at some point. He tells him Shangri-La is in ruin due to "some moron" driving a dump truck through the door during a Tojo Clan civil war years ago. Kasuga finally accepts his world is no longer as he knew it. Adachi tells him he wants them to team up to get information from Arakawa, whom he suspects had colluded with TMPD commissioner Juro Horinouchi to allow the Omi to invade, and wants evidence to bust him. At Theatre Square, Adachi tells him where to meet and hands him a smartphone before heading off. Clueless with smartphones, Kasuga meets and asks Nick Ogata for help in operating one, and he does so after Kasuga fends off some thugs for him.

Adachi arrives and they sneak through the sewers to where Arakawa is. On the way, a helicopter spots them on a rooftop and Adachi stays behind. Kasuga faces Sawashiro upon arrival and defeats him, then opens the door to a dinner between Omi officers, looking for answers. Arakawa remarks that everything is going according to plan and tells Kasuga he needs to die for him, then shoots him in the chest.

Kasuga wakes up under a pile of garbage in Isezaki Ijincho, having been patched up by Nanba three days prior. Nanba teaches him the methods homeless people use to survive. When Nanba prepares bread rolls, Kasuga tells him how much he looked forward to having bread in prison compared to the barley rice that was usually served. They are interrupted by Yokohama Liumang member Zheng demanding payment from the homeless. Nanba tells him to hide in a box, but he is found and a fight breaks out, Nanba joining Kasuga as he feels he does not have much choice left. Zheng is defeated and tells them his superiors will have payback, but Kasuga uses his knowledge of the underworld hierarchy to let Zheng know he is powerless, as reporting the incident will only cause him problems.

Nanba explains to Kasuga about the Ijin Three and how they are a Great Wall of Muscle protecting the city, which prevents the Omi from intruding. Kasuga considers returning to Tokyo, but Nanba presses his wound to show he is in no condition to do so. Kasuga touching his chest to ease the pain leads to him discovering a defective counterfeit 10,000 yen bill. Nanba observes the lack of a bullet hole and deduced it was placed in Kasuga's pocket after he was shot. Kasuga tries to rally the local homeless to find employment at Hello Work, but Nanba reprimands him, telling him the people are broken beyond repair rather than lazy. Nanba himself decides to join Kasuga, and they are given a bodyguard job where they meet Hamako, who invites them over for the next day.

Arriving at Hamako's disguised brothel, they are tasked with cleaning it out, where they have their first encounter with Bleach Japan, the anti-gray zone non-profit organization founded by Tokyo governor Ryo Aoki. Kasuga drives off the leader Sota Kume and his followers by threatening to throw soiled tissues on them. Kume sends hired thugs after them, but they too are repelled. As payment, Hamako lets the duo sleep in her "restaurant" and they take a moment to reflect before going to sleep.

Adachi rejoins them and explains that he wants Horinouchi to be brought to justice for his crimes. On their way to Hello Work, the trio spot a bat rooted in the ground and take turns trying to pull it out, but it is only the chosen one, Ichiban Kasuga, who can successfully unsheathe the mighty weapon. Kanbe from Hello Work directs them to Otohime Land and they meet Nonomiya. Adachi and Nanba are repulsed by his comments to his workers, but Kasuga accepts the job and drives off Bleach Japan, who are protesting outside the soapland, to do so. They are tasked to monitor Nanoha Mukoda, who is acting strangely. They eavesdrop on a conversation between her and Yamato Totsuka and learn she is being asked to pay 2 million yen for her father at Sunlight Castle.

With Kanbe's assistance, they infiltrate Sunlight Castle and learn it is a pension scheme. Nonomiya requests they help out Nanoha even though the situation is bigger than he initially thought, and they accept. Adachi takes them to Survive Bar for a breather before they head back to action. They steal a keycard and barely save Tatsuro Mukoda from being euthanized before they confront Totsuka. Totsuka is defeated and Kasuga heads to Seiryu Clan headquarters to inform the chairman of Totsuka's activities. At HQ, Totsuka springs a trap and they fight their way to the chairman. Totsuka is forcefully removed and Kasuga is happy to see that Ryuhei Hoshino is the type of yakuza he admires, and tells him he once served Masumi Arakawa. Mamoru Takabe resolves the matter with Nanoha and the trio returns to Otohime Land only to find Nonomiya's hanging corpse.

Outside the funeral site, Kasuga and co. meet Nanoha's estranged twin sister Saeko Mukoda. She tells them she was on the phone with him right before his death and heard Chinese men saying "Lao Ma", a nickname for one of the Liumang's bosses, Akira Mabuchi, and the police ignored her testimony, ruling Nonomiya's death a suicide. Frustrated and bereaved, Saeko asks the three men for help in avenging Nonomiya; Kasuga assures her she is not alone and they agree to help. The four look for leads on the Liumang in Chinatown but carelessness in gathering info leads to them being assaulted and without leads. They spot Zheng entering a nearby cabaret club and try to head in, but the entry is for members only, or a hostess's acquaintance. Saeko decides to work there to let the men in. When they arrive, they defeat Zheng and learn they may get close to Mabuchi at the Yokohama Trading company. They head home and Kasuga invites Saeko to stay with them.


Other Media[]

Wanderings of the Golden Dragon: 1999[]

Main article: Ryu ga Gotoku Online#Wanderings of the Golden Dragon

In winter 1999, six years after joining the Arakawa Family, Kasuga is tasked to accompany Daisaku Kuze, who was recently released from prison, on a mission to assassinate Ryuji Goda and Joon-gi Han.

The duo eventually encounters their targets in Nagasugai, Fukuoka. Their fight is soon interrupted by a group of thugs led by Shou Takayama, the acting chairman of the Go-Ryu Clan, who has been chasing Ryuji for a while. Knowing that they couldn't face so many enemies at once Ryuji and Han decide to split up. Kuze and the Go-Ryu follow Ryuji, while Kasuga chases after Han.

After vowing to make Kasuga pay for all the pain the Tojo Clan has inflicted to the Jingweon, Han and Kasuga start fighting. Suddenly, a member of the Go-Ryu Clan appears, giving Han a chance to escape.

Streets of Kamurocho[]

Kasuga appears as a hidden character in the short beat-em-up title inspired by the story of the original Yakuza and the gameplay of SEGA's Streets of Rage franchise. His gameplay, much like that of Kiryu and Majima, is a reskinned version of the Streets of Rage series' main character, Axel. He can be unlocked after completing the single stage once.

Fighting Style[]

Kasuga's fighting style is based around streetfighting and pro-wrestling techniques that—while lacking in finesse—are powerful and highly adaptive to his immediate environment. His fighting style includes a wide right hook, left hook, and uppercut combo for a basic attack, a stomp for an Opportune Strike, wild haymakers that have Kasuga wind it up before throw his entire weight into it, headlocks, headbutts from a lapel grab, dropkicks, a front kick to the face, an atomic drop, and a release German suplex. Kasuga can make use of the environment with the Essence of Roadside Weapon and can use a skill called Hyper Swagger to shadowbox and weave in place, causing his evasion and attack to rise. With his exclusive Hero job, Kasuga can use bats with incredible skill and power. His attacks consist of wild but strong swings with his weapon, even being able to swing it like nunchaku in a fashion incredibly similar to Goro Majima's use of bats in Slugger Style.


Yakuza: Like a Dragon[]

Kasuga has two character-specific jobs that remain exclusive to him; the first is Freelancer, a high-offense fighting style which utilizes his hand-to-hand combat prowess. The other is Hero, in which Kasuga uses a baseball bat as a weapon, wielding it like a hero's sword. The Hero job transforms Kasuga into an all-rounder, gaining him access to a wide-array of support, recovery and offensive abilities. Also in Kasuga's arsenal is the Poundmates system, which allows him to summon various characters Kasuga and his team have befriended to give the party various buffs, and attack/de-buff enemies during battle.


(フリーター, Furītaa)
Freelancer Job Icon
Ichiban Kasuga exclusive job. Relies on bare-knuckle brawling and Kasuga's pro wrestling moves to knock enemies senseless. A high-offense job that allows Kasuga to learn terrain-based Skills.
Requirements Ichiban Kasuga Yu Nanba Koichi Adachi Saeko Mukoda
Lv. 1+
Joon-gi Han Tianyou Zhao Eri Kamataki
Characteristics Weapon Element Elemental Bonus Stat Bonus Criticality Rate Accessories
Bare-Handed Blunt Attack, Agility 2% Dragonfish Tenugui
Statistics Rank HP MP Attack Defense Magic Healing Agility Dexterity
10 120 105 33 36 21 37 55 50
20 200 186 62 68 41 68 83 78
30 280 267 90 100 60 98 110 105
See Freelancer for a full overview of this job's statistics.
Freelancer Skill Progression
Rank Skill Name MP Target Type Element Effect Power Category
Treasure Hunt Exploration
Search for hidden treasures scattered throughout the city.
Try pressing [Interact] any time you find something shiny on the ground.
2 Tenacious Fist 8 1 Enemy Attack Blunt Stun Light (1.3×) Job
Kasuga puts all his energy into a single punch that may leave the enemy stunned.
4 Rock Swing 10 1 Enemy Attack Blunt Light (1.4×) Job
Damage an enemy by putting them in a headlock and throwing them.
5 Headbutt Barrage 13 1 Enemy Attack Blunt Light (1.6×) Job
Damage an enemy with an onslaught of headbutts.
8 Hyper Swagger 10 Self Support Character
Kasuga hypes himself up and attunes to the flow of battle, boosting his Evasion and Attack for 2 turns.
12 Dropkick 21 1 Enemy Attack Blunt Medium (1.8×) Job
Damage an enemy with a flying kick. High chance to land a critical hit.
16 Ruffian's Kick 28 1 Enemy Attack Blunt Medium (2.0×) Job
Damage an enemy with a swift, brutal kick.
20 Atomic Drop 43 1 Enemy Attack Blunt Heavy (2.4×) Job
Damage an enemy by hitting them hard in their vital spot. High chance to land a critical hit.
24 Release German Suplex 50 1 Enemy Attack Blunt Extreme (2.7×) Character
Damage an enemy with a wrestling technique known as a release German suplex. May instantly knock out the enemy.
28 Essence of Roadside Weapon 65 1 Enemy Attack Blunt Extreme (2.8×) Job
A powerful skill that damages an enemy with an improvised weapon lying about the city.
Changes depending on the surrounding area.
See Freelancer#Skills for a full overview of this job's skills.
Rank Skill Name MP Target Type Attribute Effect Power Category


  • Kasuga was given the name "Ichiban" (一番, lit. "number one" in the context of being the best) by executive director Toshihiro Nagoshi and lead writer Masayoshi Yokoyama. They decided on the name due to its contrast with his background and lifestyle being emblematic of Kasuga as a character, who "[lives life] to the fullest like he doesn't see the irony."[2]
  • Kasuga has several traits in common with Akira Nishikiyama, the antagonist of the first game: both have koi-like tattoos on their backs, a fiery temperament and the same voice actor, Kazuhiro Nakaya.


  1. The given height of 185 cm (6′ 1″) is based on the character model's scaling factor within the game's data. For Dragon Engine games, this method is believed to be very accurate (±1 cm). However, this is intended as an estimate, not a substitute for an official statistic.
    • Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, PC, November 2020) - .JSON File - "character_model_model_data.json"
  2. https://dengekionline.com/ (November 1, 2018) - “新・龍が如く”の幕開けとなるスマホアプリ『龍が如く ONLINE』の実態を直撃!【電撃PS】 ("Shin Ryū ga Gotoku" no makuake to naru sumaho apuri 「Ryū ga Gotoku ONLINE」 no jittai wo chokugeki! [Dengeki PS], lit. "Getting Straight to the Facts on the Mobile App That's Raising the Curtain for "Shin Ryu ga Gotoku," Ryu ga Gotoku Online! [Dengeki PS]") - Archive
    Yokoyama: その頃はまだ新主人公は未定だったのですが、名越から「この男には一番という名前を背負わせたい」という話があり、後に春日一番という名前が決まりました。“究極の名前負けというビリっ尻人生を、一番という名前であっけらかんと強く生きる”いう思いが込められています。 We were still figuring the new protagonist out when Nagoshi said, "I want to burden this man with the name 'Ichiban.'" So then I decided on Ichiban Kasuga. The "ultimate example of not living up to your name," who'd get the ass-end of life despite the name Ichiban and live it to the fullest like he doesn't see the irony—that's the thinking behind it.