Why Does Kakashi Wear a Mask?

Naruto is one of the most popular manga and anime franchises of all time, with a sprawling story and a massive cast of characters spanning almost 20 years. One of the most consistently popular characters in fan polls was always Kakashi Hatake, the leader of shinobi Team Seven and sensei to the series’ main trio of young ninja, Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha, and Sakura Haruno.

Does Kakashi ever reveal his face?

One of the prevailing mysteries surrounding Kakashi is his appearance beneath his mask, and why he’s always concealing his face. As it turned out, Kakashi’s face wasn’t revealed until episode 469 of Naruto Shippuden (“A Special Mission”) which didn’t air in Japan until July of 2016.

In the episode, Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke decide to try and find out what Kakashi looks like under his mask as they’re left yearning for a challenge after finishing a mission early in the day. They team up with a photographer named Sukea to obtain Kakashi’s ninja registration photo from a secret document storage unit, but are caught in the act before they get a chance to see it.

Sukea next tries to capture a photo of Kakashi eating with his mask off, but in each photo he takes, there’s a different object or animal in the way of Kakashi’s face. The team next tries to collaborate with ninja from teams eight and ten to trick Kakashi into performing mouth to mouth on a drowning woman (secretly Naruto in disguise,) but Kakashi opts to take the woman to a hospital instead. On their way to the hospital the other ninja intercept them and try to use their justu to force Kakashi to remove his mask, failing in spectacular fashion.

Once Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura give up on their endeavor to see Kakashi’s face, Sukea returns home and reveals himself to have been a shadow clone of Kakashi all along. While Kakashi’s pupils may never get to see his face, the audience fortunately does, both after “Sukea” removes his disguise and as Kakashi muses to himself about the teamwork skills his squad is developing.

Why does Kakashi conceal his face?

Even though fans did eventually get a satisfactory answer about Kakashi’s appearance, the rationale behind his decision to conceal his face remains somewhat of an enigma to this day.

Some of the theories fans have circulated over the years include that Kakashi is hiding the shame he feels after the death of his father, while others have suggested it may just be that Masashi Kishimoto struggles to draw distinct faces with such a large cast of characters, and the main distinguishing feature for Kakashi is his mask. One particularly amusing theory is that Kakashi wears a mask to hide his nosebleeds, which are a common symbol of sexual arousal in anime, and would make some sense given that one of Kakashi’s main character traits is his love of racy literature.