Ryo Hazuki (芭月涼 Hazuki Ryō, born November 29th, 1968) is the main protagonist of the Shenmue series. He is an 18 year old Japanese teenager who lives in Yamanose, Yokosuka, Japan. Ryo has been taught Martial Arts by his father, Iwao, since he was seven. His mother died of an illness when he was three years old. After his father was killed by Lan Di and the dragon mirror was stolen, Ryo swears vengeance for his father.
At age 7, Ryo began to seriously study the martial arts under his father's tutelage. Around this time, he was dubbed "Suede headed Ryo" by Setsu Abe, the owner of the Abe Store, and was often scolded for being bratty. He experienced his first feelings of love for a girl during this time, but when a friend of his teased him about it, Ryo started a fight with him. Since then, he has shied away from any involvement with girls.
After his father Iwao is killed by Lan Di and the Dragon Mirror is stolen, Ryo swears vengeance for his father. He decides to drop out of Yokosuka High School. As he collects information around Yamanose, Sakuragaoka, and Dobuita, Ryo is lead to the New Yokosuka Harbor District and to "Master Chen" who was mentioned in the Chinese written letter addressed to Iwao. The meeting gives Ryo some new information, there is a another mirror called the Phoenix Mirror. Ryo finds the mirror in the Hazuki Residence Basement.
While this is going on Ryo gets a job at the harbor driving a forklift as he has learned a gang operates there called the Mad Angels, who may have contact with a "Chinese Bigshot" who Ryo presumes to be Lan Di. The Mad Angels and Ryo come to fights a few times at the New Yokosuka harbor, and as a result, they kidnap Nozomi, one of Ryo's friends from school. Ryo comes to rescue her and he and Terry, the leader of the Mad Angels make a deal. Terry will take Ryo to Lan Di if Ryo beats up Gui Zhang, who has been causing the Mad Angels problems with their plans at the harbor. Ryo confronts Gui Zhang and asks for him to lose explaining that Terry will take him to Lan Di if he beats him. During the fight Terry tries to kill them both, leading the two of them to fight the entire Mad Angels gang, 70 men.
Master Chen believes that Lan Di has left Yokosuka, heading for Hong Kong, so Ryo decides he will head there next as it is his only lead. Gui Zhang says that he will accompany Ryo to Hong Kong, but a fight between Ryo and Chai leaves Gui Zhang with an leg injury meaning he is not able to travel with him. Ryo leaves Yokosuka heading for Hong Kong, taking the Phoenix Mirror with him and an introduction letter from Master Chen telling him of a Martial Arts master named Tao Li Shao who should be able to help him locate Zhu Yuan Da, the writer of the warning letter sent to Iwao.
Ryo arrives in Aberdeen, Hong Kong and sets about trying to find the Yan Tin Apartments in Wan Chai where Tao Li Shao is supposed to live. He runs into a woman riding a motorcycle named Joy and later has his bag stolen by three men Sam, Larry, Cool Z and a child named Wong. He chases Wong, fights Sam and Larry, and gets his bag back. He stays at the Come Over Guest House which Wong and Joy mentioned. He soon finds that the address he has been given for Tao Li Shao is no longer valid as he doesn't live at the Apartments anymore. Eventually Ryo manages to find Man Mo Temple in Scarlet Hills, where Tao Li Shao is said to be and discovers eventually that Tao Li Shao is a woman named Hong Xiu Ying. Xiu Ying is willing to aid Ryo with the information he needs to continue his journey, because she believes he is falling onto the wrong path. Ryo continues his journey without her help by asking people about Zhu Yuan Da in Wan Chai. He comes into contact with Zhang Shu Qin Zhu Yuan Da's aid, but even he doesn't know his whereabouts as he has gone into hiding. He tells Ryo there is something he can do, and that is to find Ren of Heavens, the leader of The Heavens a gang in Aberdeen, but warns him that Ren is a dangerous person. Ryo is eventually able to find Ren and finds out how dangerous he can be, but through his perseverance and Ren's thought that large sums of money must be involved in what is going on, Ren tells Ryo that Zhu Yuan Da is in Kowloon.
Ryo heads to Kowloon with Ren where they encounter Dou Niu, the leader of the Yellow Heads gang that operates in Kowloon who are also looking for Zhu Yuan Da. Eventually, Ryo manages to find Zhu Yuan Da but before he can even ask him anything he is kidnapped by Dou Niu and taken to the Yellow Head Building.
Ryo soon learns that the only way to get inside the Yellow Head building is to be scouted as a possible new member of the Yellow Head gang, so to draw attention to himself he competes in street fights in Kowloon. Eventually a scout for the Yellow Heads arranges a meeting between himself and Ryo. Ren decides to follow him and he knocks the scout out, the two of them now have access to the Yellow Head building.
The building is very tall and through many fights with members of the gang, they make it to the roof. By this point Joy and Wong have accompanied them and on the roof they find Dou Niu with Zhu Yuan Da who he is about to deliver to Lan Di who is flying skyward in a helicopter. Ryo fights Dou Niu and eventually, remembering what he has been taught by Xiu Ying, he is able to defeat him and save Zhu Yuan Da. Lan Di takes off and they all head back to Ren's Hideout.
At Ren's hideout they finally get to ask Zhu Yuan Da some questions, he explains that the reason Lan Di killed Iwao was because Lan Di believes Iwao killed his father Zhao Sun Ming. Zhu Yuan Da doesn't know if this is true but he does know that Zhao did die. He explains the Dragon and Phoenix Mirrors and that when they are brought together they form a key. And he also tells them that Lan Di has probably went to Bailu Village in Gui Lin. So Ryo heads on to Gui Lin alone.
Once Ryo arrives in Gui Lin he starts the long journey towards Bailu Village, where on the way he meets a girl, Ling Shen Hua, who offers to show him the way to Bailu Village as it is near where she lives. They walk for two days and eventually arrive at Shen Hua's house where she lives with her adoptive father. In the house Ryo finds some artwork of the Dragon and Phoenix Mirrors, so the next day Shen Hua and Ryo go to see her father in the stone pit where he is working but he is gone. He has left behind a letter and a sword, and on the wall two giant editions of the Dragon and Phoenix Mirrors.
- Iwao Hazuki (father): Iwao is Ryo's father who was very influential in his life. He started teaching him martial arts when he was seven years old. He also influenced him to not waste carrots and taught him the values of friendship. Iwao was murdered by Zhao Longsun (Lan Di) on Ryo's birthday. Ryo swears vengeance for his father's murder.
- Unnamed mother: Ryo once had a mother who was also Iwao's wife. She passed away when Ryo was three years old so they did not have a real relationship.
- Ine Hayata (Live-in housekeeper / mother-figure): Ine-san knew Ryo since he was three years old. She knows him very well and gave him ¥500 allowance daily four days after Iwao's murder.
- Masayuki Fukuhara (Live-in student / brother-figure): Fuku-san and Ryo acted like normal brothers when they were young even though they were not related. Fuku-san and Ryo practiced martial arts together in the past and Ryo can choose to practice with him while searching for Lan Di in Yokosuka. If Ryo was murdered; Fuku-san would feel responsible.
- Zhao Longsun (murderer of his father): Zhao Longsun; commonly known as Lan Di killed Ryo's father Iwao right in front of him. Ryo swears vengeance for his father's death.
- Nozomi Harasaki (classmate): Ryo feels love for Nozomi but will not admit it due to him shying away from relationships. Nozomi also feels love for Ryo. She is often worried about Ryo because of his thoughts of revenge. Ryo feels he caused her so much pain because it was his fault she was kidnapped by the Mad Angels. If he hadn't beat up some of their members she would have never been kidnapped.
- Naoyuki Ito (classmate): Ryo first met Naoyuki when he was being picked on by other students for being new to the school. Ryo defended Naoyuki and they have been friends ever since. Naoyuki allowed Ryo to borrow his prized possession; his motorcycle when he was in a hurry to rescue Nozomi from the Mad Angels.
- Joy (friend): Ryo first met Joy when he first arrived in Aberdeen, she barged into him riding her motorcycle. Ryo didn't appreciate that, and he shys away from having a romantic relationship with her like he does with all the women he meets. Joy helped him find a place to stay by suggesting the Come Over Guest House and even told him how to get a discount in rent. The day after, she even helped him get a job at Fortune's Pier. Joy gets mad later on, when Ryo doesn't stay at the guest house anymore and when he didn't tell her goodbye when he left for Kowloon. But, he does save her from Master Baihu and their relationship grows.
If Ryo fails certain commands; he will die non-canonically and may be given a chance to retry.
- Ryo's zodiac sign is Sagittarius and he has a O blood type.
- Ryo has a height of 176 cm and a weight of 65 kg.
- Originally, Shenmue was supposed to be a Virtua Fighter RPG game, so Ryo was originally supposed to be Akira Yuki from Virtua Fighter.
- In ESPN NFL Football, Ryo is an unlockable free agent player (being #26), along with other Sega characters including Beat from Jet Grind Radio, and Jeffry McWild and Kage Maru from Virtua Fighter.
- In Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, Akira can be customized to look similar to Ryo, and also in the offline DLC mode you can fight Akira with a brown leather jacket and blue jeans under the name "RYO".
- Although Ryo was a playable character in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing he did not return in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. Sumo Digital made petitions for people to vote for the Sega characters they want to be future Downloadable Content. Ryo was one of the characters to choose from. He had the most votes. Ryo would later appear in the game as a playable character via DLC.