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Creation and conception 
When Kishimoto was creating the setting of the Naruto manga, he initially concentrated on the designs for the village of Konohagakure, the primary setting of the series. He asserts that his design for Konohagakure was created "pretty spontaneously without much thought", but admits that the scenery is based on his home in the Okayama prefecture in Japan. Kishimoto created Konohagakure without specifying an era or location in the real world, noting that the village is "just a place in his head". Without a specific time period, Kishimoto included modern elements in the series such as convenience stores and movies, but specifically excluded projectile weapons and vehicles from the storyline. For reference materials, Kishimoto performs his own research into Japanese culture and alludes to it in his work. In an interview, he commented that he "often visits Japanese gardens and goes to Kabuki performances" for reference material.
Kishimoto added that, as Naruto takes place in a "Japanese fantasy world," the creator has to "set certain rules, in a systematic way" so that he could easily "convey the story." Kishimoto wanted to "draw on" the Chinese zodiac tradition, which had a long-standing presence in Japan; the zodiac hand signs originate from this. Regarding technology, Kishimoto said that Naruto would not have any firearms. He said he may include automobiles, aircraft, and "low-processing" computers; Kishimoto specified the computers would "maybe" be eight-bit and that they would "definitely not" be sixteen-bit.
In the Ninja World, countries operate as separate political entities ruled by landlords. Within these countries are hidden villages (隠れ里 kakurezato ), settlements housing ninja, warriors capable of using supernatural abilities in combat. A hidden village maintains the economy of the parent country by training ninja from a young age and using them to perform missions for other countries. The ninja of a hidden village also serve as the military force of their parent country. The leaders of the hidden villages hold equal status with the leaders of their respective countries. Five countries in the Ninja World: the Land of Earth, the Land of Fire, the Land of Lightning, the Land of Water, and the Land of Wind are known as the "Five Great Shinobi Nations". These countries are the most powerful in the Ninja World. They are ruled by a feudal lord and the leaders of the hidden villages in these countries hold the title of Kage. During the "Fourth Ninja War", the hidden villages of all five nations join together to confront Akatsuki's forces as the "Ninja Alliance Army." Other apparently smaller nations have been named in passing, in either the manga or anime, but are yet to be explored.
Land of Fire 
The Land of Fire (火の国 Hi no Kuni ) is one of the Five Great Shinobi Nations, is where the majority of the Naruto series takes place, getting its name from its bright and hot weather. It is where The Village Hidden In Leaves (木ノ葉隠れの里 Konohagakure no Sato ), also known as the Hidden Leaf Village (木ノ葉隠れ Konohagure ) or Konoha (木ノ葉 Konoha ), is located. Konoha was founded by the two rival ninja clans descended from the Sage of Six Paths: The Senju led by Hashirama and the Uchiha under Madara. When Hashirama was named Konoha's leader, the First Hokage, events led to an epic battle with a furious Madara that led to Konoha obtaining possession of Kurama the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox and the formation of the Valley of the End (終末の谷 Shūmatsu no Tani ) with large statues of Hashirama and Madara overlooking a waterfall. One of Konoha's landmarks is the Hokage mountain where the faces of Hashirama and his successors, his brother Tobirama, their student Hiruzen Sarutobi, Minato Namikaze, and later Hashirama's granddaughter Tsunade were etched into stone.
During Part I of the series, forced to lead the village after Minato's death years ago when Kurama ran rampant as the result of Obito's actions, Hiruzen dies fighting his former apprentice Orochimaru during his invasion of Konoha, with his other student Tsunade becoming the Fifth Hokage and overseeing the village's reconstruction. Later in Part II Pain, the figurehead leader of the criminal organization Akatsuki, leads an attack on Konoha and destroys most of the village in the process before being stopped by Naruto, while putting Tsunade in a coma with Danzo made acting Hokage prior to his death by Sasuke's hand. Kakashi was about to be elected Hokage, but Tsunade regained consciousness and resumes her position as Hokage for the Fourth Shinobi World War. Within Konoha are a number of locations featured prominently during the series: The gated Forest of Death (死の森 Shi no Mori ) used for the biyearly Chunin Exams, and Naruto Uzumaki's favorite restaurant Ichiraku Ramen (ラーメン一楽 Rāmen Ichiraku ), the Naka Shrine (南賀ノ神社), and the long abandoned Uzumaki Clan's Mask Storage Temple (うずまき一族の納面堂 Uzumaki Ichizoku no Nōmendō ), which stores various ancient masks such as the one which could summon the Shinigami.
Land of Wind 
The Land of Wind (風の国 Kaze no Kuni ), one of the Five Great Shinobi Nations, is a large desert country whose cities are found near water sources. While much of the country is inhospitable, the population is large and prosperous due to frequent trade with the Land of Fire. Its resident ninja village is Sunagakure (砂隠れの里 Sunagakure no Sato , lit. "Village Hidden Among Sand" or "Village Hidden in the Sand"), also known as Suna, which is ruled by the Kazekage and possesses the Shukaku, the One-Tail. Before the start of the series, the Land of Wind's feudal lord began to reduce Sunagakure's budget, and send mission requests to Konoha instead of Sunagakure. This led the Fourth Kazekage to forge an alliance with the village of Otogakure to wipe out Konoha during the Chunin Exams. However, when the attack fails with Sunagakure becoming allies with Konoha upon learning that Orochimaru, the leader of Otogakure, murdered the Fourth Kazekage before the attack began. In Part II of the series, Gaara, the son of the Fourth Kazekage and the One-Tail's Jinchuriki, succeeds his father as the Fifth Kazekage prior to losing Shukaku to the Akatsuki. Other than Gaara's brother Kankuro and their sister Temari, members of Sunagakure include the Akatsuki's Sasori, his grandmother Chiyo, and Pakura (パクラ), a famed kunoichi who possessed the advanced Kekkei Genkai Scorch Release and was killed during an incident with Kirigakure.
Land of Water 
The Land of Water (水の国 Mizu no Kuni ) is one of the Five Great Shinobi Nations, composed of many islands with each having its own unique traditions. Within the Land of Water is Kirigakure (霧隠れの里 Kirigakure no Sato , lit. "Village Hidden in Mist"), currently ruled by the Fifth Mizukage Mei Terumī (照美 メイ Terumī Mei ). Prior to the series, Kirigakure possessed Isobu, the Three-Tails and Saiken, the Six-Tails. Isobu's last Jinchuriki was Mei's predecessor, the Fourth Mizukage Yagura who was under the influence of Obito and gave his village the moniker "Blood Mist" due to the use of death fights among graduating ninja until Zabuza Momochi killed all the students in his class discontinued the process.
Kirigakure is also known for its strongest ninja, the members of the Seven Shinobi Swordsmen of the Mist (霧の忍刀七人衆 Kiri no Shinobigatana Nananin Shū ). Each member carries a blade of great power: Kubikiribōchō (首斬り包丁 "Decapitating Carving Knife ) which uses the iron from the blood of its victims to restore itself, the sentient Samehada (鮫肌, Sharkskin) which feeds on an enemy's chakra, the needle-shaped Nuibari (縫い針, "Sewing Needle) that pierces enemies and "sews" them together in human bundles, the defense destroying Kabutowari (兜割, "Helmet Splitter"), the explosive Shibuki (飛沫, "Splash"), the lightning-imbued twin blades Kiba (牙, "Fangs") and Hiramekarei (ヒラメカレイ) that can store the user's chakra to assume any form. The weapons are passed down from one generation of Swordsmen to the next.
However, the group disbanded with only Hiramekarei remaining in service to Kirigakure. Members of the last generation include Zabuza, the Akatsuki's Kisame Hoshigaki, Raiga Kurosuki (黒鋤 雷牙 Kurosuki Raiga ) who possessed Kiba prior to his death, Mangetsu Hozuki (鬼灯 満月 Hōzuki Mangetsu ) who trained to use all seven swords, and a youth named Chojuro (長十郎 Chōjūrō ) who became Mei's bodyguard and possesses Hiramekarei. During the Fourth Shinobi War, other than Zabuza, Kisame, and Mangetsu, Kabuto reanimated the strongest generation of Swordsmen: Zabuza's previous teammates Kushimaru Kuriarare (栗霰 串丸 Kuriarare Kushimaru ), Ameyuri Ringo (林檎 雨由利 Ringo Ameyuri ), Jinpachi Munashi (無梨 甚八 Munashi Jinpachi ), Jinin Akebino (通草野 餌人 Akebino Jinin ), and Fuguki Suikazan (西瓜山 河豚鬼 Suikazan Fuguki ). Suigetsu, Mangetsu's younger brother, made it his goal to reclaim the swords of the Seven Swordsmen to revive the group.
Other ninja from Kirigakure include Ao (青), Mei's bodyguard who had a functional Byakugan implanted on him and had fought Shisui Uchiha in his life, Zabuza's apprentice Haku, who hailed from the Yuki clan and had the advanced Kekkei Genkai Ice Release, the Demon Brothers Gozu (牛頭 Gōzu ) and Meizu (冥頭) who were working under Zabuza, Chūkichi (中吉), a renowned shinobi who had strong hatred with the organization Akatsuki, and the Second Mizukage, who hailed from the Hōzuki clan and had a long-standing rivalry with the Second Tsuchikage, Mū.
Land of Lightning 
The Land of Lightning (雷の国 Kaminari no Kuni ) is one of the Five Great Shinobi Nations, consisting of numerous mountain ranges with one of the highest mountains being where Kumogakure (雲隠れの里 Kumogakure no sato , lit. "Village Hidden in the Clouds") is located. The village is occupied by lightning using ninja under the leadership of the Fourth Raikage Ay (エー Ē ). Years prior to the series, a leader of Kumogakure used an alliance with Konoha as an excuse to get close enough to abduct Hinata Hyūga for her Byakugan. Though the leader was killed by Hiashi Hyūga, Hinata's father, Kumogakure demand the clan head's life with threat of war. However, the twin brother of the Hyuuga clan head and Neji's father, Hizashi Hyūga, takes his brother's place so Kumogakure could not obtain the Byakugan.
As the series began, Kumogakure had two Tailed Beasts in its possession: Matatabi the Two Tails and Hachibi the Eight-Tails. During the time of Hashirama Senju, Kumogakure attempted to capture Kurama with the traitorous Gold and Silver Brothers, Kinkaku (金角) and Ginkaku (銀角) who only managed to ingest the demon fox's flesh to increase their powers and stole five of the Ninja Treasures of the Sage of Six Paths, weapons that require huge amounts of chakra to wield. In Part II, the Akatsuki captured Matatabi's Jinchuriki Yugito Nii (二位 ユギト Nii Yugito ) and later send Taka in an attempt to obtain Gyūki from A's adopted younger brother, Killer Bee, though they failed and only managed to obtain Gyūki's tentacle. Other ninja from Kumogakure include: Ay's bodyguards Darui (ダルイ), a white-haired Jōnin who wields a giant blade similar to the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist and Cee (シー Shī ), a medical ninja, Samui (サムイ) and her brother Atsui (アツイ), Killer Bee's students Karui (カルイ) and Omoi (オモイ), and Toroi (トロイ), a famed Kumogakure shinobi who possessed the advanced Kekkei Genkai Magnet Release.
Land of Earth 
The Land of Earth (土の国 Tsuchi no Kuni ) is one of the Five Great Shinobi Nations, mostly made up of rock formations with a rocky mountain range blocking communication with other countries and Iwagakure (岩隠れの里 Iwagakure no sato , lit. "Village Hidden Among the Rocks") located in the center of mountain ranges. The leader is called the Tsuchikage, and the current leader is Onoki (オオノキ Ōnoki ), the Third Tsuchikage. Trained by his mentor Mū (無), the Second Tsuchikage, Onoki had a student in Deidara before he ran off and joined the Akatsuki. Not much is know about Iwagakure other than its ninja who specialize in earth-based jutsu and had two Tailed Beasts in its possession: Son Gokū, the Four-Tails, sealed within an old man named Rōshi; and Kokuō, the Five-Tails, sealed within a large, armor-clad man named Han, both of which had already been captured by Akatsuki. Other members of Iwagakure include Onoki's granddaughter Kurotsuchi (黒ツチ), who serves as Onoki's bodyguard alongside Akatsuchi (赤ツチ), her father Kitsuchi (黄ツチ), and Gari (ガリ), a renowned Iwagakura shinobi who had the advanced Kekkei Genkai Explosion Release and was part of Iwagakure Explosion Corps.
Land of Waves 
The Land of Waves (波の国 Nami no Kuni ) is a poor nation, and as a result does not have a hidden village. It is an isolated island, but was prosperous until the country was taken over by Gato, who monopolized the economy. The Land of Waves is introduced early in Part I, and Team 7, which consists of the main characters of the series, travels to the Land of Waves as bodyguards for a bridge builder. With the aid of the populace of the Land of Waves, Team 7 manage to defeat Gato and his hired assassin Zabuza Momochi, and his assistant Haku, and restore the country to its former status. As a sign of gratitude, the bridge is named the "Great Naruto Bridge" (ナルト大橋 Naruto Ōhashi ) in honor of Naruto Uzumaki, the main character of the series.
Land of Sound 
Originally known as the Land of Rice Fields (田の国 Ta no Kuni , English TV: "Land of Rice Paddies"), a small country sharing a border with the Land of Fire. But when Orochimaru took control of the country, he renamed it the Land of Sound (音の国 Oto no Kuni ) and founded Otogakure (音隠れの里 Otogakure no Sato , lit. "Village Hidden in Sound"). Though Orochimaru claimed that it was created so any ninja can find purpose without subjugation to the Five Ninja Nations, Otogakure is actually multiple assorted lairs and laboratories located within the Land of Sound and outside it meant to enable Orochimaru to utilize the ninja he took under his wing in a series of experiments to achieve his goals.
Amegakure (雨隠れの里 Amegakure no Sato , lit. "Village Hidden in Rain"), named for the continuous rain in its skies, is situated in an unknown country. The country's borders are highly defended, and those wishing to pass through it are subject to constant surveillance for the duration of their stay. As it is situated between three of the Five Great Shinobi Nations, it serves as a battlefield for their wars. Most of the population consists of war refugees under the dictatorship of Hanzo the Salamander, who christened Hiruzen Sarutobi's students as the Sannin (伝説の三忍 Densetsu no Sannin, lit. The Legendary Three Ninja ) when only they survive an attack that wipe out their entire platoon during the Second Shinobi War. At the time of the Third Shinobi War, Amegakure was the site of a civil war with Hanzo killed by Nagato of the Akatsuki which was a liberation group prior to becoming a criminal organization. Following the war's conclusion, going by the name of Pain, Nagato becomes the leader of the village and uses it as a base for the Akatsuki while eliminating would be assassins loyal to the former Amegakure regime. The inhabitants of Amegakure consider Pain to be a god due to his ability to briefly stop the rain, following his aide Konan when she takes leadership after his death. However, after Tobi kills Konan to obtain Nagato's Rinnegan eyes, it is unknown who succeeded her as Amegakure's leader.
Land of Iron 
The Land of Iron (鉄の国 Tetsu no Kuni ) is a smaller, snowy country, which lies between three large mountains, named the Three Wolves. Its leader is Mifune (ミフネ), an elderly samurai who specializes in Iaido, and had fought Hanzo of the Salamader in his youth. This country is unusual for its military being made up of samurai, instead of ninja. The samurai, adept in kenjutsu, utilize their chakra by streaming it into their swords. The country is neutral among the Five Great Shinobi Nations and never start wars with them which contributes to its stable security and makes it the ideal place for the Five Kage Summit. The samurai later join the Shinobi Alliance in the Fourth Great Shinobi War against the criminal organization Akatsuki.
Land of Whirlpools 
The Land of Whirlpools (渦の国 Uzu no Kuni ), located on an island off the Land of Fire's coast, is the site of the ruins of an ancient shinobi village called Uzushiogakure (渦潮隠れの里 Uzushiogakure no Sato , lit. "Village Hidden In Whirlpools") or "The Village of Longevity" (長寿の里 Chōju no Sato ). It is also Naruto's ancestral home through the Uzumaki Clan, the distant relatives of the Senju Clan who are composed of red-haired ninja with longevity who invented various Sealing Jutsus. When Uzushiogakure fell, the Uzumaki scattered to the winds with Mito Uzumaki (うずまき ミト Uzumaki Mito ) marrying the First Hokage Hashirama Senju and the becoming the first Jinchuriki of Kurama, before passing it to Kushina Uzumaki (うずまき クシナ Uzumaki Kushina ), the wife of the Fourth Hokage Minato Namikaze who passed on the task to their son Naruto. Mito's only living descendant is Tsunade, who inherited her grandmother's long life. Other members of the Uzumaki Clan include Nagato from Amegakure, also known as Pain of the Akatsuki who had Rinnegan implanted to him by Madara Uchiha, and Karin, a member of Sasuke's Taka and former subordinate of Orochimaru.
Sage of the Six Paths 
The Sage of the Six Paths (六道仙人 Rikudō Sennin ) is a legendary Ninja whose actions in the past influenced the series' storyline. Possessing the Rinnegan (輪廻眼, lit. "Saṃsāra Eye"), a unique eye technique characterized by a ripple-like pattern around the pupil that enables the user to use all five forms of Chakra, the Sage was a priest who used what he learned of Chakra to end the bloodshed of his time. Other than creating the fundamentals of ninjutsu, the Sage battled the Ten-Tails and sealed the creature inside himself, becoming the first Jinchuriki. However, fearing the seal would break upon his death, the Sage used the last of his strength to separate the Ten-Tails' chakra into the Tailed Beasts, naming each of the nine, while sealing the monster's body, the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path (外道魔像 Gedō Mazō ), into the moon. Near death, the Sage picked the youngest of his two sons to succeed him to the dismay of the oldest son who did not share the Sage's ideal of peace. This family feud between the two brothers continued to the time of the Sage's descendants: the Senju/Uzumaki and the Uchiha. Though he faded into myth, the Sage's exploits were researched by Madara Uchiha for his agenda.
Tailed Beasts 
The Tailed Beasts (尾獣 Bijū ) are nine giant concentrations of Chakra that serve to drive the plot of the Naruto series. They were all originally part of a single entity of unknown origin called the Ten-Tails (十尾 Jūbi ), whose power far outmatched most ninja and was said to had created all life on the world. As the legends reveal, the Sage of the Six Paths sealed the Ten-Tails inside his body to prevent the monster from terrorizing the world. But as his death would release the Ten-Tails back into the world, the Sage separated the Ten-Tails' chakra from its body and scattered it into the four winds as the Tailed Beasts before sealing the body away in what would become the moon. Though referred to by the number of their tails, from one to nine, the Sage gave them proper names as he regarded them with respect: Shukaku (守鶴) the crazed one-tailed tanuki; Matatabi (又旅) the polite two-tailed cat; Isobu (磯撫) the shy three-tailed turtle; Son Gokū (孫悟空) the prideful four-tailed ape; Kokuō (穆王) the reserved five-tailed dolphin-horse; Saiken (犀犬) the boastful six-tailed slug; Chōmei (重明) the cheery seven-tailed rhinoceros beetle; Gyūki (牛鬼) the berseker eight-tailed octopus-ox; and Kurama (九喇嘛) the cynical nine-tailed fox. The beasts are told by the Sage of a certain person and that one day they would be joined back to their original form while understanding true power.
Each Tailed Beast is differentiated by the number of tails they have, an ideal Tailed Beast embraces though their immense strength is tempered due to their bestial nature. However, wanting to use the powers of the Tailed Beasts for their own, many of the ninja villages resorted to having the beasts sealed within Jinchuriki: Shukaku used by the ninja of Sunagakure; Matatabi and Gyūki by Kumogakure; Isobu originally owned by Kirigakure, alongside Saiken, before it escaped; Son Gokū and Kokuō by Iwagakure; and Chōmei by Takigakure. With the exception of Gyūki, though they benefitted from the knowledge of their hosts and better utilize their powers, the other Tailed Beasts despised the humans for their actions and being seen by them as nothing more than tools. Only Kurama evaded capture until the founding of Konoha, in which Madara Uchiha controlled it during his battle with Hashirama Senju and was sealed within Hashirama's wife Mito Uzumaki, eventually winding up to Naruto Uzumaki.
The Akatsuki, a criminal organization that becomes one of the primary antagonists of the series, spends much of their screen time trying to capture the nine beasts or their hosts. Once captured, the Akatsuki's members seal the beasts away within the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path, the Ten-Tail's body. Though their figurehead leader, Nagato believed the Akatsuki's goal is to use the beasts in the creation of a weapon capable of destroying an entire country to enforce peace, the organization was created under Madara through his apprentice Obito Uchiha, under the guise of Tobi, to reform the Ten-Tails and become its Jinchuriki to subjugate the Ninja World. Eventually, only Kurama and Gyūki remain to be captured after the five Kage's refusal to hand Naruto and Killer Bee to Obito, leading to the Fourth Great Ninja War. During the war, Obito reanimates the former Jinchuriki as his new Six Paths of Pain and seals the Tailed Beasts back within them in an attempt to capture Naruto and Killer Bee, though Naruto's determination to save the Tailed Beasts surprises and amazes them as Kurama realizes that he must be the person that the Sage told them long ago. However, knowing that he only has little time yet, he decides to begin the Ten-Tail's incomplete resurrection, using only the seven Tailed Beasts, Gyūki's tentacle, and parts of Kurama's chakra stored in the Gold and Silver Brothers (who were sealed in the Kohaku no Jōhei and Benihisago). As the Ten-Tails still need time to regenerate fully, Obito ensures no one would interfere while he and the reanimated Madara Uchiha attempt to fully add Kurama and Gyūki into it.
The Jinchuriki (人柱力 lit. "Power of Human Sacrifice" ), or simply hosts, are humans who have had a Tailed Beast sealed into their bodies. The first one to perform this was the Sage of the Six Paths when he needed to subdue the Ten-Tails. Later Jinchūriki are created by ninja villages so they would have an advantage over their rivals. In most instances, they are actually stronger than the Tailed Beasts they contain, as they have the knowledge to effectively control the Tailed Beast's strength. Each of the hosts appear to have a physical characteristic that resembles their beast; Naruto has fox-like whisker-marks on his face, while Gaara has tanuki-like rings around his eyes. Other than them and Killer Bee, the most recent Jinchūriki of the other Tailed Beasts include Yugito Nii (二位ユギト), the Fourth Mizukage Yagura (やぐら), Rōshi (老紫), Han (ハン), the rogue ninja Utakata (ウタカタ), and Fū (フウ). The six were each killed off by the Akatsuki and their corpses altered by Tobi to become his personal Six Paths of Pain and with their former Tailed Beasts sealed back inside of them.
According to members of the Akatsuki, hosts of Tailed Beasts are typically lonely people who loathe humanity. When Akatsuki captured their first two Jinchūriki, no one from their villages cared, and in fact were thankful to be rid of them. Normally, if a beast is removed from its host's body, the host would immediately die, unless they possess a long lifespan like that of the Uzumaki clan. Similarly if the host dies with the beast still sealed within them, the beast would die too. Because of this, Tailed Beasts tend to be protective of their hosts to the point of taking over their hosts' bodies if needed to. Hosts can communicate with their beast in an effort to use the beast's powers at will. Killer Bee (Gyūki's host) seems to have had the most success in doing so, having a mutual and strong relationship with his beast and being able to fully unleash the beast within him while still maintaining his sense of self. Naruto was the opposite, originally in conflict with Kurama and losing control over himself when he reached four tails or more. But eventually, Naruto was able to defeat Kurama and forcefully consume its chakra to enter the "Tailed Beast Chakra Mode"; later forming an equal partnership with Kurama when Naruto shows kindness to its fellow Tailed Beasts in his attempt to save them from Obito before he sacrificed them to revive the Ten-Tails.
Ninja: ranks, title and organizations 
Academy ninja 
The academy is where would-be ninja start; they are not actually considered ninja until they graduate. Academy students take formal and practical tests of all sorts and are taught basic ninja skills, such as martial arts, techniques, physical fitness, as well as extensive mental training such as math, science, history, and specifically these things in relation to their uses in battle tactics; academy students are also taught the way of the ninja. Basic weapon usage, such as kunai and shuriken, are commonly taught. Elementary ninja techniques, such as transformation jutsu and clone jutsu, though they vary from village to village, are also taught. Once a student has become proficient in these areas they are allowed to graduate. Upon graduation, students are organized into three-person teams under the leadership of a Jonin. In some villages, the Jonin administers a final test to determine whether or not the team will be able to advance to the rank of Genin. Those who fail must return to the academy. When Naruto Uzumaki graduates at the start of the series, only nine of the thirty graduates become Genin.
Genin (下忍, literally "Lower Ninja", Viz "Genin" and "Junior Ninja") are the lowest level of ninja. Genin are given headbands with their village's symbol on it to represent what village they come from and that they are full fledged ninja. Genin are also put in a platoon of three-man-cell, and are then assigned a Jonin sensei to mentor them. This is done to teach the Genin teamwork and experience true ninja life under the supervision and protection of an elite shinobi. The make-up of these teams is based on the individual skills of the Genin, so that there will remain a balance between the teams. When they become Genin, ninja start to do their bit for their village's economy, for which they are given a small payment. They are typically sent either on C or D-rank missions, which are the lowest rank and are almost entirely risk-free jobs of manual labor, or experienced Genin are sent on C-rank missions, which are a cut above that and begin to verge on real "ninja" work, though they generally have a very low possibility of risk to the ninja involved. In some circumstances, a genin may have the skills of jonin or above, but is not officially considered a chunin or jonin because they have not passed the Chunin Exams. An example of a genin who has shown skills that have surpassed those of a jounin or even a Kage of a village is the titular character of the franchise, Naruto Uzumaki.
Chunin (中忍 Chūnin , literally "Middle Ninja", Viz "Chūnin" and "Journeyman Ninja") are ninja who are qualified to watch over and guide other ninja. Chunin have reached a level of maturity that primarily consists of leadership skills and tactical prowess. Some of them, like Shikamaru Nara, serve as team leaders in charge of small teams who need to make decisions and use the skills of the shinobi under their command to the maximum effect. Upon reaching Chunin level, ninja can wear an identifying tactical vest that holds ninjutsu scrolls. This vest is not required; instead, some may look for more elaborate clothing like capes or robes. Chunin are typically sent on C or B-rank missions.They enjoy fighting multiple enemies at once and also enjoy the power of chi.
To become a Chunin, a Genin can either be appointed by his\her village leader or participates, with his or her team, in a large examination, known as the "Chunin Exams," hosted twice a year due to the growing number of ninjas. In the past, each village held their own Chunin exam. After the Third Shinobi World War, allied ninja villages agreed to hold the exams together at the selected village that would host the exam, so villages could improve and strengthen their relationships. Another advantage is that ninja that took the exam might attract clients who are interested in hiring them. The exam is a test not only of strength, but information gathering abilities, survival skills, and adhering to guidelines. Those who have all of these qualities are grouped together into predetermined fights, watched by a council that decides who becomes a Chunin and who does not. While the winners are able to proceed to fight the next opponent, it is aptitude, rather than winning, that is evaluated to determine whether a candidate is promoted. This way even one who loses his or her first match can become a Chunin as evidenced by Shikamaru's promotion while he surrendered to Temari in the first round.
Jonins (上忍 Jōnin , literally "High Ninja") are the elite ninjas. The Jonins, when taking a mission, are given an A, B, and mostly S rank missions. Even as achieving chunin demonstrates proficiency and skill, achieving jonin is a sign of mastery. Jonins are exceptional fighters who operate on a completely different level than their lower ranked counterparts. Because of this, they are given the most dangerous missions. Jonins also are not limited to battle. While chunins are in charge of teaching academy students, jonins are responsible for trios of genins. A jonin leads the groups through their initial missions and prepares them for the Chunin Selection Exam. Jonins typically only impart knowledge to their assigned genins, though there are some who take on special students and impart techniques and skills to them as well. Not much is known about the methods of promoting Jonin, however. Jonins almost always wear a vest that holds weapons and scrolls, though some (such as Kurenai Yūhi) do not wear them.
Kage (影, literally "Shadow") are the leaders of the five most powerful Hidden Villages and generally the most powerful ninja in their respective villages. These villages do not rule the country, but are equal to the government. The Kage stand equally with the rulers of their countries, oversee the activities of their villages, and are the leaders of ninja society. There may be exceptions, however, as a ninja may be the most powerful at the time of being installed as Kage, but may become less powerful upon aging, eventually being surpassed by a younger ninja. A Kage may retire and give the title to someone else; however, once granted, the title is held permanently, creating a situation where a village has two Kage at the same time, with only one of them actually active. Their elite status is also attributed to the tendency for most Kage to have family members who were previous Kage, or be personally taught by a former Kage or student of a former Kage, or some combination of these factors. The five Kage have different titles depending on their country. Those titles are:
- Hokage (火影?, literally "Fire Shadow") Kage of Konohagakure. Currently Tsunade is the Fifth Hokage. All of her predecessors with the exception of the Fourth (Minato Namikaze) have connections with her, with the First (Hashirama Senju) and the Second (Tobirama Senju) being her grandfather and granduncle respectively, and the Third (Hiruzen Sarutobi) being her former teacher. Danzō Shimura once acted as Sixth Hokage Candidate in place for the comatose Tsunade while Kakashi Hatake was being considered for the title after the former's death, but it was canceled after Tsunade's eventual recovery.
- Kazekage (風影?, literally "Wind Shadow") Kage of Sunagakure. Currently Gaara is the Fifth Kazekage, his father being his immediate predecessor.
- Mizukage (水影?, literally "Water Shadow") Kage of Kirigakure. Currently Mei Terumī is the Fifth Mizukage, her immediate predecessor being the Three-Tails' Jinchūriki, Yagura.
- Raikage (雷影?, literally "Lightning Shadow") Kage of Kumogakure. Currently Ay is the Fourth Raikage, his father being his immediate predecessor.
- Tsuchikage (土影?, literally "Earth Shadow") Kage of Iwagakure. Currently Ōnoki is the Third Tsuchikage, his immediate predecessor being his former teacher, Mū.
The anime introduced a sixth Kage, the Hoshikage (星影 literally "Star Shadow" ) from Hoshigakure (Village Hidden in the Stars). However, this was a self-given title and not officially recognized by the five other villages.
The ANBU (暗部, literally "Dark Side", Viz manga "Black Ops", English TV "ANBU Black Ops") is actually short for Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai (暗殺戦術特殊部隊, literally Assassination Tactics Special Force), and is an organization of assassination squads that serves directly under the village's leader. It is still unclear as to what requirements a shinobi must possess to be an ANBU operative. The ANBU wear porcelain animal masks in order to distinguish themselves from normal shinobi and to conceal their identities, and also have standard uniforms consisting of black and gray armor, arm guards, a signature spiral tattoo on their shoulder (Men: left shoulder. Women: right shoulder) and a Ninjatō strapped on their back. They know the layout of the human body in detail, and have developed several techniques to perform their duties, such as paralyzing the target. ANBU are considered the elite, and they perform high-ranked and dangerous missions. Within the ANBU of Kirigakure, and presumably other ninja villages, there exists a sub-group called Hunter-nin (追い忍 Oinin , literally "Chasing Ninja", English TV "Tracker Ninja"), given the specific duty of hunting down rogue ninja, and destroying their bodies, so their village's secrets won't be revealed to foreign ninja.
Similar organizations 
Konoha is shown having two ANBU-like organizations, though they are separate from ANBU entirely. The Konoha Military Police Force (木ノ葉警務部隊 Konoha Keimu Butai , English TV: "Leaf Anbu"), or Military Police for short, is a unique organization in Konoha, though other villages may have similar organizations. Their symbol is the Uchiha crest because the Uchiha family founded the organization as a sign of trust with the Second Hokage. The Military Police previously consisted of mostly Uchiha clan members, though now that Itachi has eliminated all but Sasuke this is no longer the case. The Military Police are in charge of law enforcement within the village, and their jurisdiction is virtually unlimited except in matters that are under the Hokage's direct control. The Nijū Shōtai (二十小隊, Twenty Platoons) is a task force created by Tsunade, the Fifth Hokage, for the purpose of tracking down, attempting to capture, and, if necessary, eliminating Akatsuki members in the Fire Country. This force consists of twenty four-man teams, making eighty shinobi in all.
Konoha ANBU are usually under the direct command of the Hokage, but several years before the start of the series there was an ANBU Training Department known as the "Foundation" (根 Ne , lit. "Root"). The Foundation was created and directly controlled by Danzo, who trained and conditioned children intensively from a very young age. This was done to completely eliminate emotions and enable its members to complete missions without being held back. The Foundation tends to go further in its belief that ninja must not show any emotion than most other ninja groups do, as they forbid any members to possess anything that may invoke emotion. It was implied that the department might have used methods similar to Kirigakure's graduation exam, including putting students against each other in fights to the death. Because Danzo is a war hawk and opposed the Third Hokage, the Foundation was disbanded. However, many former members are still loyal to the Foundation, and act on Danzo's orders despite this.
Medical ninja 
Medical-nin (医療忍 iryō-nin , English TV "Medical Corps Ninja") are ninja who specialize in medical treatment and use medical-oriented jutsu to heal others. Examples include Tsunade, Shizune, and Sakura Haruno and Ino Yamanaka. Becoming a medic-nin requires excellent chakra control, because medic-nin use chakra to heal injuries. Aside from their medical training, their combat training consists mainly of taijutsu skills, with emphasis placed on evading enemy attacks, as the death of the medic-nin could result in the death of the team, though medical techniques can also be used offensively. On dangerous missions, a medic-nin will usually be sent along with the team, to increase the survival rate of that team.
Shinobi Hunters 
Each Hidden Villages has their own team of Ninja Hunters. Their main purpose is to hunt down Missing Ninja. After killing the missing-ninja, they dispose of the body, leave no trace behind, take a sample and bring it back as a clue. The dispose of the body is to ensure the secrets of their village are safe. Shinobi Hunters wear masks with different designs on them and have their home insignia sign on them. In Naruto, a character named Haku who was Zabuza Momochi's partner pretended to be one to save him.
Rogue Ninja 
Rogue Ninja (抜け忍 Nukenin , literally "Fugitive Ninja", also called "Missing ninja"/"Criminal Ninja") are ninja who have abandoned their Hidden Village, and as such can include ninja of every rank. The Akatsuki is an organization that houses said rogue ninja from every Hidden Village except the Hidden Cloud who are the main antagonists in the series of Naruto. These ninja are considered traitors and are hunted down because of the secrets they may hold. Other Hidden Villages would be interested in purchasing this information because it could be useful in gaining an upper hand in battle or obtaining a bloodline limit unique to a village. Some villages (Kirigakure being the only known example) create special units of hunter-nin to take care of this problem, although it's unlikely that every missing-nin has a team of hunter-nin sent after them.
- Kishimoto, Masashi (2007). Uzumaki: the Art of Naruto. Viz Media. p. 145. ISBN 1-4215-1407-9.
- Shonen Jump #33 Volume 3, Issue 9 September 2005. Viz Media. p. 8.
- "NARUTO―ナルト―［秘伝・臨の書］" (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
- Kishimoto, Masashi (2009). NARUTO-ナルト-[秘伝・皆の書]オフィシャルファンBOOK. Shueisha. p. 116. ISBN 4-08-874834-4.
- Kishimoto, Masashi (2000). The Worst Client. Japan: Shueshia. p. 384. ISBN 4088728785.