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Hiruzen Sarutobi was the third Hokage of Konoha, the leader of the Hidden Leaf Village and one of the most powerful shinobi in history. He was a respected and revered figure who dedicated his life to protecting his village and its people.

He was also the teacher of the legendary Sannin: Jiraiya, Tsunade and Orochimaru. In this article, we will explore his background, personality, abilities and role in the anime Naruto Shippuden.

All about Hiruzen Sarutobi

  • Birthdate: February 8
  • Sex: Male
  • Age: Part I: 68–69
  • Status: Deceased
  • Height: Part I: 163.1 cm
  • Weight: Part I: 50.6 kg
  • Blood type: A
  • Classification: Sensor Type
  • Occupation: Hokage
  • Affiliation: Konohagakure/Allied Shinobi Forces
  • Team: Team Tobirama/Team Hiruzen/Escort Unit
  • Clan: Sarutobi Clan

Hiruzen Sarutobi’s Background

Hiruzen was born the son of Sasuke Sarutobi. The Sarutobi clan was one of the first clans to settle in the newly-created Konohagakure, where Hiruzen struck up a friendship with the Shimura clan’s Danzō Shimura.

Hiruzen was part of the first generation of ninja produced by Konoha and he, Homura Mitokado, and Koharu Utatane were placed under the tutelage of Tobirama Senju.

Hiruzen early on displayed prodigious talent in the ninja arts, earning him additional training from Hashirama Senju, the First Hokage at the same time, Danzō became jealous of Hiruzen’s skills and started a one-sided rivalry in an effort to surpass him.

During the First Shinobi World War, Tobirama, by that time the Second Hokage, led a team consisting of Hiruzen, Homura, Koharu, Danzō, Kagami Uchiha, and Torifu Akimichi.

During a mission they started to be pursued by Kumogakure’s Kinkaku Force, an enemy that somebody would need to distract and inevitably die at the hands of in order for the rest of the team to escape.

Hiruzen volunteered to be the decoy, boasting that, as the strongest of their group, he stood the best chance of surviving the encounter; nevertheless, he asked Danzō to look after the others. Tobirama volunteered himself instead, and before going to his death he appointed Hiruzen as Third Hokage.

In the anime, Hiruzen permitted Danzō to create Root – a more ruthless subdivision of the Anbu under Danzō’s exclusive control – shortly after he became Hokage in order to balance the shortcomings of his empathetic rule. For years he had ignored Root’s questionable foreign ops, its abduction of children, and the actions it took against Konoha personnel, Hiruzen included.

At some point, Hiruzen married Biwako and they had a son, Asuma, and at least one other child who became an Anbu. Hiruzen also started leading his own team of new Academy graduates consisting of Jiraiya, Orochimaru, and Tsunade.

Although he was close with all of his students, Hiruzen had the highest hopes for Orochimaru, a genius like himself who, after the deaths of his parents, was only further motivated to have a deep impact on the world.

Hiruzen led Konoha’s forces through the Second and Third Shinobi World Wars; in the anime, his choosing to end the Third Shinobi World War by signing a peace treaty with Iwagakure despite the losses Konoha suffered incensed Danzō, prompting Hiruzen to step down as Hokage against the village’s protests.

Hiruzen had long hoped that Orochimaru would succeed him as Hokage but, despite his best efforts, he could never convince him of the Will of Fire: that Konoha was a family that the Hokage had to risk everything to keep safe.

Unable to choose Orochimaru, Hiruzen considered Jiraiya as his successor, but Jiraiya did not believe he was responsible enough. Hiruzen ultimately settled on Jiraiya’s former student, Minato Namikaze, who had proven himself time and again during the Third Shinobi World War.

Hiruzen assisted Minato with the transition of power by advising him on how to handle individuals and other village matters. He even retained some of his own Anbu, several of which he assigned as security while Kushina Uzumaki, the jinchūriki of the Nine-Tails, gave birth.

Despite their precautions, the Nine-Tails escaped and attacked the village. Hiruzen led the village’s defence until Minato arrived to remove the Nine-Tails to a safe distance.

Hiruzen followed and, cut off by the Adamantine Sealing Chains, could only watch as Minato and Kushina gave their lives to seal the Nine-Tails into their newborn son, Naruto. Minato did not have time to tell Hiruzen how the Nine-Tails had escaped, instead using the final moments of his life to ask Konoha, via Hiruzen, to think of Naruto as a hero who saved the village and not the container of the monster that killed so many.

Hiruzen did so, but the villagers proved unable to follow Minato’s wishes, prompting Hiruzen, now the village’s Hokage once more, to outlaw any mention of the Nine-Tails, an effort to protect Naruto from their misguided hate. He also gave Naruto his mother’s surname in order to hide his relation to Minato from Minato’s enemies.

Hiruzen eventually started investigating a number of disappearances throughout Konoha. In the anime, he followed a lead provided by Kakashi Hatake, which ultimately led him to discover that Orochimaru was behind it all.

Hiruzen was dismayed not only by Orochimaru’s role or that he was experimenting on those he kidnapped, but also his reasons: to create an Eternal Youth and Immortality Technique.

He attempted to apprehend Orochimaru, but could not bring himself to strike down his favourite student and allowed him to escape. From examining what Orochimaru left behind, a young boy imbued with Hashirama Senju’s Wood Release was discovered, and over the years the boy became one of Hiruzen’s top Anbu operatives. (In the anime, the boy was previously discovered by Danzō, and Hiruzen negotiated the boy’s release into Hiruzen’s care.)

Because Minato never had the opportunity to explain the cause of the Nine-Tails’ attack, Konoha’s leadership came to suspect a member of the Uchiha clan was responsible due to the Sharingan’s ability to control the Nine-Tails.

The Uchiha resented this suspicion and began planning a coup d’état, something reported to Hiruzen and the Konoha Council by Itachi Uchiha. Hiruzen attempted to peacefully resolve the conflict but negotiations consistently stalled.

Danzō eventually stepped in without Hiruzen’s knowledge and ordered Itachi to slaughter the Uchiha. Hiruzen only learned of the mission afterwards when Itachi reported its successful completion. B

efore needing to publicly leave the village as a criminal in order to hide Konoha’s involvement in the Uchiha’s destruction, Itachi asked Hiruzen to look after his younger brother, Sasuke, the only Uchiha he could not bring himself to kill. Hiruzen agreed.

In the anime, Hiruzen also promised not to change the village barrier’s formula, enabling Itachi to sneak in from time to time to watch Sasuke from afar. Danzō’s role in the Uchiha’s assassination was not something Hiruzen could abide, and as such he ordered Root be disbanded.

About five years after the Nine Tails Fox’s attack on the village, Hiruzen had a disagreement with his son Asuma, leading to the latter to leave to pursue his personal interests. In the anime, Hiruzen came to welcome people in a refugee camp to Konoha.

Hiruzen was visited by an orphaned refugee Mugino, delivering a gift for gratitude. After anticipating his actions and noticing the young orphan was branded with a cursed seal, Hiruzen allowed Mugino to stab him, catching the Kiri-nin watching over Mugino off guard and swiftly subduing them. Hiruzen comforted Mugino and welcomed him to Konoha with open arms whenever he was ready.

Hiruzen Sarutobi’s Personality

Hiruzen is a firm believer in the Will of Fire, which holds that all the people of Konoha are a family and that the Hokage is chiefly responsible for that family’s well-being.

Throughout his tenure, Hiruzen lives up to the Will of Fire by being available for Konoha’s villagers and shinobi during their time of need, making decisions to the betterment of as many people as possible, and providing his wisdom and guidance whenever he can.

His delicate, thoughtful approach to not only issues within the village but also his interactions with foreign powers has given Hiruzen the reputation of being soft, something the Konoha Council spends much of its time trying to rectify.

Nevertheless, Hiruzen’s kind and pacifist ways are widely valued by Konoha’s residents and even his rival Kage, and for those reasons his eventual death is regretted by many. However, Hiruzen was not entirely for his softness as he allowed Danzō to form an Anbu faction of his own, to handle the dark side of Konoha’s actions.

Although he loved all of Konoha, Hiruzen held his students especially dear, believing they were the village’s future and, as such, must be cultivated and protected. He favoured Orochimaru, seeing in him a prodigy similar to himself whose contributions to the village could someday be greater than his own.

Even when Orochimaru increasingly went astray and then finally defected from Konoha, Hiruzen could never abandon his attachments to Orochimaru, instead blaming himself for not being a better teacher.

When he is reincarnated, he reflects on his life and finds it similarly flawed: he feels responsible for Danzō’s taking on of the village’s darkness, believing Danzō would not have turned out so badly had he been more willing to make the difficult decisions; he believes that some of the village’s – and even the world’s – problems could have been avoided had he led with a firmer hand.

Hiruzen’s own son, Asuma, was defiant towards Hiruzen’s philosophies during his youth, but eventually sees the merits in valuing future generations after Hiruzen’s death.

Despite his reputation and responsibilities, Hiruzen is somewhat lecherous: he and Jiraiya bonded over their shared desire to spy on naked women; he falls victim to Naruto’s Sexy Technique on more than one occasion and suspects he would be defeated by the Harem Technique as well; talking to young girls was his favourite “hobby”.

Hiruzen Sarutobi’s Abilities

Hiruzen was a natural prodigy, hailed as a “God of Shinobi”. His talents made him Hokage at a young age, directly selected by the Second Hokage, having surpassed his teacher in childhood.

He was the strongest shinobi produced from his clan, as well as the most powerful of Kage during his lifetime,[1] and once well-considered the strongest Hokage in history.

While his battle prowess deteriorated greatly in old age and ultimately died, he was able to fend off Orochimaru along with the combined might of the reincarnated First and Second Hokage, ultimately sealing away the two past Hokage and Orochimaru’s hands. Orochimaru openly believed that had Hiruzen been ten years younger, he would’ve killed his former student.

Chakra and Physical Prowess

In the anime, Hiruzen was said to have immense chakra, and even in his old age, his chakra was strong enough to crack stone upon moulding it. His reserves diminished in later years as even splitting his chakra between any more than two shadow clones was a great risk for him.

His reduced chakra levels were offset with precise chakra control, needing only the minimum amount of chakra to use techniques to their full potency.

Despite his old age, his reaction time and sensory perception were still good enough to defend himself, even when robbed of his sight. Hiruzen could even lay explosive tags on high-level opponents without them noticing.


Hiruzen also was renowned as The Professor (プロフェッサー, Purofessā), due to his unprecedented versatility in ninjutsu. Having mastered all the skillsets and combat forms of the shinobi arts.

Hiruzen was reputed for his advanced knowledge and skill of all techniques to ever exist within Konoha, including the many Hiden techniques, and able to use each of them with the highest level of power and control.

He could instantly deduce the impending technique simply from the hand seals. Even when he encountered something new, as in the case of Truth-Seeking Balls, he could discern their attributes and limitations from a brief observation.

Hiruzen was well-noted for having personally created a variety of innovative techniques, preparing himself for any situation and was also capable of using various techniques simultaneously for more versatile and with longer effects.

His noteworthy skillset included viewing things from afar, creating a barrier powerful enough to contain the Ten-Tails alongside other Kage-level shinobi, and sensing the presence of individuals by their chakra.

Nature Transformation

Hiruzen was one of the few individuals who could perform all five basic nature transformations and mastered them with equal proficiency. He could also use Yin and Yang Release.

His prowess could intercept an opponent’s elemental attack and produce the respective counterbalancing nature. He could use Fire Release to create a powerful stream of fire, and in the anime, a barrage of small fire blasts.

With Earth Release, he could create a protective wall of mud. In the anime, he could create a river of mud to knock an opponent off their feet, and use the same mud to create a dragon head to shoot a volley of mud balls that can be infused with flames for more damage. He could likewise produce powerful streams of Lightning, Water, and Wind Release respectively.


Hiruzen frequently used shuriken in combat – both the standard size and the larger fūma shuriken. By using the Shuriken Shadow Clone Technique, he could create copies of these shuriken, allowing him to bombard a target with thousands of projectiles without needing to carry that many on himself. In the anime, Hiruzen was similarly shown utilising his surroundings like shuriken, such as roof tiles.

Hiruzen’s personal summon, Enma, could transform into an extendable and/or expandable staff that was as hard as a diamond. The staff was Hiruzen’s weapon of choice and wielded it with great proficiency, though its weight became a great burden to him in his later years.


Hiruzen could perform a suicide-murder technique that will seal away a target’s soul with sacrifice of their own. However, he can bypass this by using a shadow clone to be sacrificed instead. He was also one of few people who could remove seals as powerful as the Five Elements Seal.

Role in Naruto Shippuden

Hiruzen played a major role in the anime Naruto Shippuden, both in the past and in the present. He was shown in flashbacks, revealing his history and relationship with his students, his friends and his enemies.

He was also shown in the present, as a spirit who watched over his village and his successors. He also appeared in the Fourth Shinobi World War, as one of the four Hokage who were reanimated by Orochimaru to aid the Allied Shinobi Forces.

He fought alongside his fellow Hokage, and displayed his power and wisdom to the new generation of shinobi. He also had a final reunion with his students, and expressed his pride and gratitude to them. He also met his grandson, Konohamaru, and praised him for his growth and achievements.

Hiruzen Sarutobi was a great shinobi and a great Hokage, who left a lasting legacy and impact on the ninja world. He was a hero and a mentor to many, and a father figure to his village. He was a man who loved peace and harmony, and who dedicated his life to his ideals and his dreams.

He was a man who deserved respect and admiration, and who will always be remembered and honored. He was Hiruzen Sarutobi, the Third Hokage of Konoha.

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