Hiruzen Sarutobi was the Third Hokage of Konohagakure, a disciple of the village’s two former Hokage and a formidable ninja revered as the “God of Shinobi ''. He was the teacher of Konoha’s three legendary Sannin and his wisdom benefitted generations of Konoha shinobi during his lifetime.
Hiruzen relied on pacifist ways to handle the village's threats unless they demanded an aggressive approach. He was the only among the village’s elders who opposed the idea of a mass slaughter upon learning about the plot of the Uchiha clan’s revolt against the village.
He gladly gave up his life to protect Konoha, even though he had to battle against his student. His principles live on among the young shinobi of Konohagakure and years later when Naruto Uzumaki became the Hokage, he lives by the Will of Fire just as Hiruzen did.
God of Shinobi
|First Appearance in Anime||Naruto Episode 1|
|Japanese Voice Actor||Hidekatsu Shibata|
|English Voice Actor||Steve Kramer|
|Affiliation||Konohagakure Allied Shinobi Forces|
Hiruzen is the son of Sasuke Sarutobi and he became a part of the first generation shinobi produced by Konoha where he was placed with Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane under the tutelage of Tobirama Senju. Over time he developed his friendship with Danzō Shimura. Hiruzen demonstrated remarkable potential in the ninja arts, gaining him additional training from Hashirama Senju, the First Hokage; at the same time, he became a rival to Danzō, who began a one-sided competition in an attempt to surpass Hiruzen.
During the First Shinobi War, Hiruzen and his teammates, along with Danzō, Kagami Uchiha and Torifu Akimichi were led by Tobirama Senju. When they were pursued by Kumogakure’s Kinkaku Force, Hiruzen volunteered to be the decoy, but Tobirama insisted on taking that task, and before leaving to face the enemy, he handed over the village’s responsibility to Hiruzen, declaring him as the Third Hokage.
After Hiruzen became the Hokage, he allowed Danzō to create Root - a classified division of the Anbu exclusively under Danzō’s control. He ignored Root’s countless questionable operations and the actions it took against the Konoha personnel, Hiruzen himself included.
Hiruzen married Biwako at some point and had a son, Asuma and another child who became part of the Anbu. He started leading his own team of the new Academy graduates; Jiraiya, Orochimaru and Tsunade. Although he was close to all of his students, he had the highest hopes for Orochimaru.
Hiruzen led Konoha’s soldiers during the Second and Third Shinobi World Wars. His decision to conclude the Third Shinobi World War by negotiating a peace treaty with Iwagakure despite Konoha’s losses infuriated Danzō, causing Hiruzen to resign as Hokage in the face of village protests.
He had long hoped that Orochimaru would succeed him as Hokage, but no matter how hard he tried, he could never persuade him of the Will of Fire: That Konoha was a family worth doing everything to protect. He contemplated Jiraiya as his successor after being unable to choose Orochimaru, but Jiraiya did not believe he was responsible enough. Eventually, he chose Jiraiya’s former student Minato Namikaze, who had proven himself repeatedly during the Third Shinobi World War. He helped the Fourth with the power shift by coaching him to handle people and other local issues, and even retained several of his own Anbu, many of whom he assigned as guard while Kushina Uzumaki, the Nine-Tails’ jinchūriki, gave birth.
When the Nine-Tails attacked the village, Hiruzen led the village’s defence until Minato arrived to drive the Nine-Tails away. He followed, but was cut off by the Adamantine Sealing Chains and could only watch as Minato and Kushina sacrificed their life to seal the Nine-Tails in their newborn son, Naruto.
Hiruzen tried carrying Minato’s wish for the Konoha villagers to look up to Naruto as a hero rather than the vessel of the monster that killed numerous people. However, the villagers were unwilling to comply with Minato’s intentions which caused Hiruzen, now the village’s Hokage once more, to outlaw any mention of the Nine-Tails in an attempt to protect Naruto from their mistaken hatred. He also gave Naruto his mother’s surname to conceal his relationship to Minato, and to protect him from Minato’s enemies.
Hiruzen eventually began looking into a number of disappearances in Konoha and pursued a lead offered by Kakashi Hatake, which eventually led him to find Orochimaru being the mastermind behind everything. He was not only disturbed by Orochimaru’s role or the fact that he was conducting experiments on people he kidnapped, but also by his motivation: to develop an Eternal Youth and Immortality Technique.
He tried to capture Orochimaru, but couldn’t bring himself to kill his favorite student and allowed him to escape. Examining what Orochimaru left behind revealed a young boy imbued with Hashirama Senju’s Wood Release, and the boy grew up to become one of Hiruzen’s best Anbu operatives. The boy was previously discovered by Danzō and Hiruzen negotiated the boy’s release into Hiruzen’s care.
Since Minato couldn’t explain the source of the Nine-Tails attack, Konoha’s leadership began to think a member of the Uchiha clan was to blame, owing to the Sharingan’s capacity to control the Nine-Tails. The Uchiha were enraged by this accusation and began plotting a coup d’état, which Itachi Uchiha revealed to Hiruzen and Konoha Council. Hiruzen endeavored to end the situation peacefully, but conversations were always stuck.
Without Hiruzen’s knowledge, Danzō ultimately intervened and commanded Itachi Uchiha to slaughter the Uchiha clan. Hiruzen only found out about the expedition after Itachi reported its successful completion, and he promised to look after Sasuke on Itachi’s plea. He also vowed not to change the formula for the village barrier, allowing Itachi to sneak in from time to time to keep an eye on Sasuke from afar. He could not stand Danzō’s role in the assassination of the Uchiha, thus Hiruzen ordered Root’s disbandment.
When Naruto fails the Academy’s graduation yet again, Hiruzen pulls Naruto’s instructor, Iruka Umino, and tells him to be empathetic towards Naruto due to his lack of parents, something Iruka has also experienced. When Naruto breaks into Hokage Residence and escapes with the Scroll of Seals, Hiruzen is forced to organize a search party to catch Naruto.
Hiruzen learns about Naruto’s manipulation by Mizuki after witnessing the events and observes as Iruka eventually shows kindness to Naruto by shielding him from Mizuki. He calls off the search when it becomes evident that Naruto will return, but he is concerned that Naruto’s knowledge of the Multiple Shadow Clone Technique from the scroll may jeopardize the Nine-Tails escape from his body.
Hiruzen assigns Kakashi Hatake to be Naruto’s team leader due to his concern about the Nine-Tails and his disappointment that one of Naruto’s first accomplishments as a genin was to invest in the Harem Technique. This allows Kakashi to properly guide Naruto as well as keep an eye on one of Naruto’s teammates, Sasuke Uchiha.
Despite Kakashi’s efforts, Naruto persists, grumbling to Hiruzen about how simple their first D-rank task was. After hearing Naruto complain, Hiruzen agrees to offer the squad a C-rank mission: escorting Tazuna to the Land of Waves.
Hiruzen gathers the village’s jōnin to remind them about the upcoming Chūnin Exams, providing an opportunity for their genin-charges to be promoted to Chūnin. He requests the gathered jōnin to enroll their chosen pupils for the exams and starts with the team leaders of the Academy most recent graduates. However, he is startled that all of the Rookie Nine are deemed suitable by their instructors, and despite Iruka’s concerns, he decided to let all of them in.
During the second stage of the Exams, Anko Mitarashi summons Hiruzen to the Forest of Death and describes Orochimaru’s infiltration in the Exams, as well as his warnings to not cancel it because of his appearance. Hiruzen has no choice but to let things go as planned because he suspects Orochimaru is after Sasuke Uchiha.
He observes the preliminary matches, noting the development of not only Naruto and Sasuke, but all of Konoha’s genin. Following the conclusion of the preliminary rounds, he presides over the assignment of first round match-ups in the finals before adjourning them.
Hiruzen’s concern grows in the month leading up to the finals. Not only does he have no idea what Orochimaru’s intentions are, but it’s clear that one of the competing villages is also plotting against Konoha, potentially in collaboration with Orochimaru.
He is also concerned that none of the Konoha shinobi possesses the skills required to face Orochimaru in a battle, and to clear his thoughts, he goes to his grandson Konohamaru’s class and is reminded of how important it is to him to defend the town and its residents.
As the finals commence, Hiruzen sits and watches the finals with the Fourth Kazekage, the only other Kage whose village has representatives competing. He, as the host, maintains a pleasant attitude towards the Kazekage and tries to reassure him that there will be no problems as the final timetable deviates from expectations.
The final round is interrupted by an invasion in Konoha, and the Kazekage separates Hiruzen from his bodyguards and ultimately kidnaps him. Hiruzen attempts to bargain with the Kazekage only to find out it is Orochimaru in disguise. Orochimaru has his followers create a barrier, trapping Hiruzen within, and to prevent the Anbu from defending him.
Hiruzen is relieved that no one will interrupt and take off his robes as he prepares to combat Orochimaru. Soon after, Orochimaru reincarnates the First and Second Hokage in order for Hiruzen to share in the experience of fighting one’s predecessors.
The previous Hokage greeted Hiruzen before they had their personalities wiped out by Orochimaru, and then the fierce face-off began between Hiruzen and the former Hokages. Hiruzen is unable to overcome their defenses and he summons Enma to help evade the attacks.
As the battle progresses, Hiruzen deduces that the only option of defeating Orochimaru and the two Hokage would be to employ the Dead Demon Consuming Seal. Orochimaru catches Hiruzen off guard by removing his own face, revealing a new body, the culmination of his study and the same doom he had planned for Sasuke.
Hiruzen is shocked by the depths of Orochimaru’s descent, as well as his own role in allowing Orochimaru to flee years before. He creates two shadow clones to capture the two Hokage and then employs the Dead Demon Consuming Seal to remove their souls. He apologized to them for the prison he’s sentenced them to: the Shinigami consuming their souls.
Witnessing the fate of the reincarnated Hokage, Orochimaru challenges Hiruzen to do the same to him. Hiruzen and Enma disarm him of his Kusanagi, and Hiruzen begins to seal him.
When Orochimaru detects the removal of his soul, he summons the Kusanagi, which pierces through Hiruzen’s body despite Emma’s attempts to block it. Hiruzen gathers the strength to seal Orochimaru, and after an hour of no progress, he accepts that he will not be able to complete the seal.
He decides to do all he can to stop Orochimaru’s ambitions and defend the village, and has the Shinigami seal Orochimaru’s arm, preventing them from being used. Hiruzen then dies smiling and hopes to see Orochimaru again in the next life, as the latter curses him.
Orochimaru releases the souls of the first four Hokage from the Shinigami’s belly, restoring his arms in the process. He then reincarnates the Hokage upon Sasuke Uchiha’s request. Hiruzen grows concerned that Orochimaru will now use him to harm Konoha, but he is instead questioned about the Uchiha Clan Massacre by Sasuke, to which Hiruzen verifies Itachi Uchiha’s actions and implies that he only did it on the condition that Hiruzen keep Sasuke safe.
After hearing about Sasuke killing Danzō and Madara Uchiha surfacing to start the Fourth Shinobi World War, Hiruzen feels guilty that such events could have been prevented if he had done things differently while he was alive. Orochimaru relinquishes control of the Hokage after Sasuke decides to head to the battlefield to stop Madara. The four Hokage headed out towards the location of the Allied Shinobi Forces and erected a barrier to contain the Ten-Tails. Hiruzen stays with the barrier in order for it to be maintained and thus he only spectates as Obito Uchiha seals the Ten-Tails’ into his body, becoming its jinchūriki.
Obito smashes down the barrier which allows Hiruzen to participate in the combat. Over the course of their battle, Hiruzen concludes from Obito’s performance that he is stronger than even the First Hokage. As a result, he personally engages Obito so that no one has to endanger their lives, taking advantage of the fact that he’s already dead to assess Obito’s abilities. He hypothesized that Obito’s Truth-Seeking Ball represents a composite of numerous natural transformations, comparable to the Third Tsuchikage’s kekkei tōta.
He also believes that the Truth-Seeking Balls’ malleability has a time limit, but his upper body is destroyed shortly after that. It takes a long time for Hiruzen’s body to regenerate and when it does, he rushes to save Naruto from the chakra-absorbing roots of the Ten-Tails’ tree form. He and Orochimaru came forward to aid the Allies in their counter-offensive against Obito, first by blocking and cutting tree’s roots and branches, and then by assisting in the removal of the tailed beasts from Obito’s body.
Hiruzen and his shadow clones arrive to help when Tobi attacks the Allied Shinobi Forces. He counterbalances Tobi’s elemental strikes with their own, since everyone is too exhausted from the lengthy struggle to protect themselves. Tobi departs just before the Infinite Tsukuyomi is about to be cast, having done its goal of distracting the Allies.
Hiruzen, unaffected by the genjutsu, tries to free Tsunade as the planet is wrapped up by the God : Nativity of a World of Trees, but ultimately fails. He and the other Hokage arrive at the site of a powerful chakra signature, but only discover Madara Uchiha’s lower half of the body, from which the Sage of the Six Paths emerges.
After Kaguya is sealed, they summon Team 7, Madara and the tailed beasts from Kaguya’s dimension by combining their efforts with the spirits of the other dead Kage. The Sage returns all of the Kage to the Pure Land after saving the world. Hiruzen then entrusts everything else to Team 7 as his soul departs.
Hiruzen was a firm believer in the Will of Fire, which holds that all of Konoha is a family and that the Hokage is primarily responsible for the well-being of that family. He upheld the Will of Fire throughout his tenure by being present for Konoha’s villagers and shinobi in time of need, making judgments that benefit as many people as possible, and offering his wisdom and assistance whenever feasible.
His sensitive, deliberate attitude to not only village issues but also contacts with international powers earned him the reputation of being soft, which the Konoha Council spent much of its time to correct. Nonetheless, Hiruzen’s compassionate and pacifist ways were highly loved by Konoha residents, including his rival Kage, and his death was mourned by many. Hiruzen, on the other hand, was not totally for his softness, since he permitted Danzō to form his own Anbu faction to deal with the evil side of Konoha’s actions.
He cherished his students and believed that they represented the village’s future and, as such, ought to be nurtured and protected. He favored Orochimaru and saw him as a prodigy comparable to himself, whose contributions to the village could someday outnumber his own. Even when Orochimaru began to stray Konoha, Hiruzen couldn't bring himself to punish his student and instead blamed himself for not being a better teacher.
When he was reincarnated, he reflected back on his life and noted his flaws. He believed that if he had been able to make difficult decisions, some of the village’s and even world’s problems could have been avoided if he had led with a firmer hand. His own son, Asuma, was first opposed to Hiruzen’s views but after Hiruzen’s death, he realized the merits in valuing future generations.
Hiruzen, despite being responsible, was somewhat perverted, as witnessed by his bond with Jiraiya over their shared desire to spy on naked women. He fell victim to Naruto’s Sexy Jutsu on multiple occasions and suspected that he would be defeated by the Harem Technique as well; and his favorite “hobby” was talking to young girls.
Hiruzen’s consistent physical feature has been his short stature; everything else has changed over the years. In his youth, he was tanned and had dark brown, spiked hair, adding a small goatee to his look after becoming the Hokage; by the end of his life, his skin is lighter, his hair turned grey, his face went gaunter and he had wrinkles and liver spots of old age.
He had a single line going vertically under the outer corners of each eye at first, which expanded down to his face until it reached his cheeks as he aged.
During the First Shinobi World War, he wore traditional grey shinobi battle armor with heavy protection all over his body. At some point, he began to wear much lighter battle gear, consisting of a black jumpsuit, mesh pieces over the lower portions of his limbs and a green gauntlet that covered most of his right arm.
He wore an armored hood with a bandanna-style forehead protector connected with two long straps over it. Across the back is inscribed “Third Hokage”, which is replaced after his brief retirement with the character for “fire”. He normally wore the official uniform, which consisted of the traditional cap and haori with a red, full-size kimono fastened with a white sash. He frequently smoked during his spare time.
Hiruzen was a natural prodigy dubbed as the “God of Shinobi” throughout his lifetime. His abilities made him Hokage at an early age, having outperformed his teacher in childhood and being directly selected by the Second Hokage. He was the strongest shinobi created by his clan, the most powerful Kage during his lifetime, and was once widely regarded as the strongest Hokage in history.
While his battle prowess diminished with age and he eventually died, Hiruzen was able to repel Orochimaru and the combined strength of the reincarnated First and Second Hokage, eventually sealing away the two former Hokage and Orochimaru’s hands. Orochimaru publicly stated that if Hiruzen had been ten years younger, he would have killed him.
Hiruzen was known to have enormous chakra, and even in his old age, his chakra was strong enough to break stone when he molded it. His reserves dwindled in the years later, as even distributing his chakra across more than two shadow clones was a risk for him.
His reduced chakra reserves were offset by precise chakra control, requiring only the bare minimum of chakra to use techniques to their full potency. Despite his advanced age, Hiruzen’s reaction time and sensory perception were adequate enough to defend himself even when blindfolded. He could even lay explosive tags on high-level opponents without them noticing.
Hiruzen was also known as “The Professor” due to his unparalleled ninjutsu flexibility, having mastered all of the shinobi arts’ skill sets and combat forms. He was renowned for his superior knowledge and proficiency in all techniques that had ever existed inside Konoha, including the several hidden techniques, and for his ability to use each of them with utmost power and control. He could deduce the impending technique just by looking at the hand seals.
Even when he discovered something new, such as the Truth-Seeking Balls, he could deduce their characteristics and limitations from a cursory examination. He was well-known for having personally developed a range of inventive tactics, preparing himself for any situation and was also capable of using various techniques simultaneously for more versatility and longer results.
His notable ability included seeing things from afar, constructing a barrier strong enough to confine the Ten-Tails alongside other Kage-level shinobi and feeling the presence of individuals through their chakra.
Hiruzen was one of the rare shinobi who could perform and master all five basic nature changes with equal ease. He could also use the Yin and Yang Release techniques. His ability allowed him to intercept an opponent’s elemental strike and generate the corresponding counterbalancing nature. He could use Fire Release to unleash a tremendous stream of fire as well as a barrage of miniature fire blasts.
He could construct a mud wall with Earth Release and produce a river of mud to knock an opponent off their feet and then use the same mud to create a dragon head to launch a volley of mud balls that could be infused with flames for additional damage. He could also create tremendous streams of Lightning, Water and Wind Release.
Hiruzen frequently used shuriken in battle, both standard and large fūma shuriken. Using the Shuriken Shadow Clone Technique, he could duplicate the shuriken which allowed him to assault a target with thousands of projectiles without carrying that many himself. He was depicted using his surroundings as shuriken, such as roof tiles.
His personal summon, Enma, could turn into a diamond-hard extensible and/or expand staff. Hiruzen’s preferred weapon was the staff, which he used with great skill, albeit its weight became a burden to him in his later years.
Hiruzen could use a suicide-murder technique to lock away a target’s soul with their own sacrifice. He can, however, avoid this by sacrificing a shadow clone instead. He was also one of the few persons capable of breaking seals as powerful as the Five Elemental Seal.
Itachi Shinden : Book of Bright Light - Hiruzen makes an appearance in this novel.
Hiruzen Sarutobi is a playable character in the following video games:
|Naruto Shippūden : Ninja Destiny 2|
|Naruto Shippūden : Ninja Destiny 3|
|Naruto Shippūden : Ultimate Ninja 4|
|Naruto Shippūden : Ultimate Ninja 5|
|Naruto Shippūden : Ultimate Ninja Blazing|
|Naruto Shippūden : Ultimate Ninja Storm 3|
|Naruto Shippūden : Ultimate Ninja Storm 4|
|Naruto Shippūden : Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations|
|Naruto Shippūden : Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution|
|Naruto to Boruto : Shinobi Striker|
|Naruto x Boruto : Ninja Tribes|
|Naruto x Boruto : Ninja Voltage|
|Naruto : Getikō Ninja Taisen! 3|
|Naruto : Getikō Ninja Taisen! 4|
|Naruto : Ninja Council 2|
|Naruto : Ninja Council 3|
|Naruto : Path of the Ninja 2|
|Naruto : Rise of a Ninja|
|Naruto : Shinobi Collection Shippū Ranbu|
|Naruto : The Broken Bond|
|Naruto : Ultimate Ninja 2|
|Naruto : Ultimate Ninja 3|
|Naruto : Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2 : The Phantom Fortress|
|Naruto : Ultimate Ninja Online|
|Naruto : Ultimate Ninja Storm|
(About Naruto) “He has combined shadow clones with his own invention, the Sexy Technique. What a foolish ninja technique.. and he could probably get me with it, too.”
(To the Academy students) “You only get one life. You don’t need to choose an impossible path. It’s fine to live as long as you like and die. However.. protecting a precious person… you must not forget this no matter what path you choose.”
(To Orochimaru) “To me, Konoha isn’t just an organization. Every year there are a lot of ninja born and raised in Konoha.. They live, fight to protect this village and what is precious they would go to their death. Even if we are not related by blood, those of the village like these are, to me, my most precious, most important.. family.”
(Last Words) “When the tree leaves dance, one shall find flames. The fire’s shadow will illuminate the village and once again, tree leaves shall bud anew.”
A. Hiruzen looked after Naruto, after his parents died defending the village from the Nine-Tails attack. He advised Iruka to take special care of Naruto since Iruka and Naruto share the same pain of not having either of their parents. He also gave Naruto a chance to prove himself by giving him a shot at the Chūnin Exams.
A. Hiruzen was a natural prodigy as a ninja who was hailed as the “God of Shinobi”. His talents far surpassed anybody of his age, which earned him the attention of the First Hokage, who later trained him.
A. Orochimaru killed the Third Hokage, as the latter attempted to stop the former from causing any further chaos in Konoha during the invasion in Konoha.