Many ninja legends exist in the shinobi history of Naruto’s world, but none was more famous than the First Hokage, Hashirama Senju. A master of all the Shinobi Arts, Senju became well-known as one of the strongest shinobi of his era. Based on his vision for a peaceful ninja world, the shinobi villages were created and became the foundation for the ninja world we’ve become so used to since the beginning of the Naruto anime.
Christened the God Of Shinobi, Hashirama’s powers were only steps behind the Sage of Six Paths, Hagoromo Otsutuki. He was the only person in the world to possess a Wood Release Kekkei Genkai since birth. The ability allowed him to create and manipulate vegetation to use in battle. A few shinobi can use this jutsu; however, it’s usually not by natural means. The only other person to be seen frequently to have this ability was the second captain of Naruto’s Team 7 squad, Yamato, who was experimented on by Orochimaru as a child and gained the Wood Release powers of the First Hokage.
As a Senju, and a reincarnation of Asura Otsutsuki, Hashirama can also access Sage Mode. Not only that, he could perform various jutsus without using hand signs and could perform genjutsus to lock a target in perpetual darkness. A skilled expert in taijutsu, Hashirama was the only one who could go toe-to-toe with Madara Uchiha in a fight. His blood as a descendant of Asura Otsutsuki is also capable of curing Hashirama’s body of any wounds. With all of these strong abilities, Hashirama was pretty much considered unbeatable.
But Hashirama also has another advantage over death: a magical technology called Hashirama Cells that cure any diseases, viruses, and unknown bacteria that enter his body and which are capable of allowing anyone to live up to a long period of time. This is made especially evident when Madara uses the cells to live for 100 years before reappearing to the ninja world again in Naruto Shippuden.
So how did the First Hokage die?
With all those OP characteristics, it’s hard to imagine Hashirama succumbing to death. But it’s been said that he died sometime before or during The First Shinobi World War. Of course, he would have had to die for Orochimaru to revive him and his brother, Tobirama, for the purpose of showing the Third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi, what it was like to face one’s former masters. But nobody truly knows how Hashirama died.
Some have theorized that Hashirama may have passed away from natural causes; however, since it’s never been reported that anyone killed him, and he can clearly regenerate from any mortal wound, we can assume that Hashirama didn’t die from battle. At the same time, Hashirama shouldn’t have died during the Great Shinobi War, seeing as his cells could have kept him alive for at least another 100 years after the event. It’s more probable that Hashirama died sometime before Hiruzen Saratobi became the Third Hokage. But to be honest, to this day, no one really knows.
Unfortunately, it’s one mystery that may never be solved.