Gojyo is a hanyou (half youkai/demon and half human)--in Saiyuki terminology a "Taboo Child"--which is the reason for his red hair and red eyes. The other members of the Sanzo-ikkou often humorously call him "kappa" in reference to his youkai blood. His childhood was filled with tragedy and violence: his youkai father and human mother killed themselves when their affair was discovered, leaving him with his father's demon wife, who hated him, and his half-brother Jien, who was eventually forced to kill her to defend Gojyo from her murderous rage. Jien fled, leaving young Gojyo to raise himself. He survived on his wits, became an accomplished fighter and gambler, and eventually encountered the fugitive Cho Gonou which drew him into the events of Saiyuki.
He is the tallest member of the ikkou and is a bit vain of his good looks and athletic physique. He and Sanzo are the only members of the ikkou who smoke; his preferred brand is Hi-Lites and he uses a refillable Zippo lighter. He likes to think of himself as quite a ladies' man and often brags of his many romantic conquests, but in reality he seldom seems to have much luck with women. Although his usual manner is vulgar and rough, he's kind-hearted and sympathetic, and easily moved to go to the defense of anyone in trouble--especially women and children (probably because of his own hardships as a kid, he hates to see children harmed). His magical weapon is a 'moon-toothed spade' or yueyachan, called in the series a shakujou (though it isn't one).
He is the joker and emotional balance of the team, often defusing tense moments with a wisecrack. The only one of the four to lack a supernatural fighting skill, he feels the least valuable in battle and often takes reckless risks to defend the others. He is Hakkai's closest friend and Goku's surrogate older brother, and loves to tease the uptight, volatile Sanzo, often straining their grudging truce.
At the beginning of the series he did not know whether or not his brother was still alive, but soon learned that Jien had joined the retinue of the youkai prince Kougaiji and was fighting on the demon side of the conflict, under the name Dokugakuji. Although they are on opposite sides, the brothers remain close and on good terms.
Gojyo's previous incarnation was General Kenren of the Heavenly Army.