How did the First Hokage die in ‘Naruto?’

The First Hokage is well-known in the 'Naruto' anime for creating the shinobi world. Who was he, and how did he perish?

Masashi Kishimoto’s beloved Naruto franchise has been releasing fresh content to its eager fans for nearly three decades now. Years of Naruto releases are all based around two one-shot manga published in 1995, a pair of simple stories that birthed one of the most popular mangas — and eventually animes — on the planet.

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The franchise has grown immensely from its humble beginnings, inspiring a huge number of books, television series, movies, video games, and merchandise. The anime based on the manga ran in the early 2000s and mid-2010s, but remain fan favorites to this day. 

The immense popularity of the series has created a horde of die-hard Naruto fans, but many of them have yet to feast their eyes on every available facet of Naruto knowledge. The manga series is 72 volumes strong and the anime boast hundreds of episodes apiece. Without a full background on the world Naruto is set in, some viewers find themselves at a loss. The history of Kishimoto’s carefully crafted world is rich with backstory, some of which is hardly touched upon in the manga and anime.

One question that often arises amongst viewers is in regards to the first-ever Hokage. The story behind Naruto leans heavily on this coveted title, but who was the First Hokage in Naruto’s history, and how did he die?

Who was the First Hokage?

The leader of Naruto’s main setting, the village of Konohagakure, is granted the title of Hokage. The first person to ever earn this title was Hashirama Senju, a singularly talented ninja and one of Konohagakure’s founders. He was born during the Warring States Period before the hidden villages were formed. His long life ended relatively early, while the character was somewhere around his ’40s and before his dream of peace had been achieved.

How did Hashirama Senju die?

The exact cause behind the first Hokage’s death is never definitively outlined, but Kishimoto has revealed a few details about his demise. He passed away just as his beloved village began to flourish, passing the title of Hokage on to his younger brother, Tobirama Senju. 

During his lifetime, Hashirama boasted immense skill over a number of things, one of which being his own life-force. He was able to heal from even devastating wounds, all while persisting in combat and maintaining his chakra. Many fans believe that this ability was ultimately behind Hashirama’s untimely death. If his regeneration works similarly to Tsunade’s — an idea that is thoroughly plausible, considering their relation — years of use would have eventually worn on his body’s natural reserves. It is broadly assumed amongst fans that the necessary use of his power during the war-torn days of the Warring States Period is what led to Hashirama’s surprisingly short life. 

Despite his death after less than five decades, Hashirama’s impact was far-reaching. While he didn’t live to see peace between the Senju and Uchiha clans, he did help to create an environment in which peace was possible. His efforts and sacrifices are what made the story in Naruto possible in the first place.


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Nahila Bonfiglio
Nahila carefully obsesses over all things geekdom and gaming, bringing her embarrassingly expansive expertise to the team at We Got This Covered. She is a Staff Writer and occasional Editor with a focus on comics, video games, and most importantly 'Lord of the Rings,' putting her Bachelors from the University of Texas at Austin to good use. Her work has been featured alongside the greats at NPR, the Daily Dot, and Nautilus Magazine.