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10 Naruto Characters Inspired By Japanese Folklore

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Most Naruto Shippuden fans understand that the titular character’s story is as varied as it is vast. With over 26 seasons, 720 episodes, and countless characters to know and love, Naruto’s journeys throughout the Land of Fire are so plentiful that even Konoha’s Scroll of Sealing couldn’t hold them all. Likewise, the lives of its supporting characters are equally exciting and vibrant.

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Most of these supporting characters can trace their origins several hundred years before the series’ air date in 1999. Masashi Kishimoto took inspiration from multiple sources when writing Naruto, including Japanese folklore and its varying yokai, or supernatural entities. As a result, the characters that graced the scrolls of these ancient fables found their way into the modern shinobi world as well.

10/10 The Toads Of Mount Myoboku Are Relics From The Edo Period’s Oghma Stories

Mount Myoboku Toads From Edo Period Oghma Stories, Naruto

Toads of Mount Myoboku are creatures that utilize their ninjutsu prowess, specialty weapons, and incredible strength to the benefit their summoner. Stretching to gigantic proportions, these toads can exhale thousands of gallons of flammable oil to incinerate entire towns. Additionally, their lifespan extends long past regular toads as its oldest known member, the Great Toad Sage, is over 1000 years old.

These toads resemble the Ogama yokai from “The Tale of The Gallant Jiraiya.” Written over 200 years ago, the bandit Jiraiya journeys to Mt. Miyoko to meet the Immortal Toad Ascetic. Jiraiya learns the art of “toad magic” from this thousand-year-old toad. After summoning them, these warrior toads swallow Jiraiya’s enemies, exhale rainbow breath, and wield swords while functioning as free transportation.

9/10 Fujin and Raijin Inspired Kishimoto’s The Legendary Stupid Brothers

The Legendary Stupid Brothers Fujin And Raijin, Naruto

The Legendary Stupid Brothers were a pair of criminal shinobi confined to Konoha’s Correctional Facility after brutally murdering their comrades. As their primary motivation is food, they were tricked by Mizuki into rampaging through Konoha following a jailbreak. Their legendary stupidity is rivaled only by their incomparable strength.

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The pair received their names and personalities from Fujin and Raijin, the Japanese gods for wind and thunder. Like their Naruto counterparts, Fujin and Raijin were fearsome troublemakers whose ultimate power lay in humanities inability to stop them.

8/10 Kidomaru Shares A Likeness And Namesake With A Character From The Kokon Chomonju

Kidomaru The Kokon Chomonju, Naruto

Kidomaru became one of Sunagakure’s Sound Four after surviving Orochimaru’s curse mark. Known for his high intellect and ferocity in battle, Kidomaru boasted incredible tactical prowess and unfailing accuracy with his legendary Spider-War Bow.

The “Kokon Chomonju”, completed in 1254, tells the tale of Kidomaru the Oni-Boy, a demon who sought to avenge his father’s murder. After committing a life of crime following his expulsion from the temple, Kidomaru attempted to take revenge against someone who tried imprisoning him. Unfortunately, his bloodlust blinded him, and Kidomaru was killed by his enemy’s well-aimed arrow.

7/10 Kakuzu Owes His Creation To Japan’s Terrifying Kuchisake-Onna

Kakuzu The Kuchisake-Onna, Naruto

Kakuzu was an S-rank rogue shinobi hailing from Takigakure. After failing to kill the First Hokage, Kakuzu joined the Akatsuki and entered a partnership with Hidan. Within the group, the pair were referred to as the Zombie Combo, due to their mutual inability to die and rather unsightly appearances.

Kakuzu inherited his terrifying looks from an equally terrifying figure in Japanese folklore. The Kuchisake-onna, or Slit-Mouthed Woman, was a creature with straight black hair and a propensity for violence. Armed with a pair of sharpened scissors, she’d asked travelers if they found her beautiful: should they answer no, she would cut them to ribbons after revealing her mutilated face.

6/10 The Four Tailed Beast Found Inspiration From Journey To The West’s Son-Wukong

Journey To The West Son Wukong Goku, Naruto

Son Goku, more commonly referred to as the Four-Tails, was the Tailed-Beast who possessed Roshi before the latter was killed by the Akatsuki. This gigantic red monkey possessed near-endless supplies of chakra and a vast knowledge of ninjutsu. Known for his nimbleness and incredible strength, Son Goku could contend easily with Gyuki, the Eight-Tailed Beast.

Son Goku’s character was directly influenced by Sun Wukong, the Monkey King from the 16th-centuries “Journey To The West.” Sun Wukong was a monkey who inherited supernatural powers from birth. He could easily lift the combined weight of mountains, leap over 30,000 miles in a single jump, and was one of the most skilled warriors in heaven. Like his Naruto counterpart, Sun Wukong also had a master named Roshi.

5/10 The Seven Ninja Swordsmen Bear Striking Resemblance To The Shichinin Misaki

Seven Ninja Swordsmen Of Shichinin Misaki, Naruto

The Seven Ninja Swordsmen were a troupe of rogue shinobi from Kirigakure. Renowned across the Five Great Nations for their incomparable kenjutsu, each member wielded a specialty sword. These swords were passed down to a new member only when its previous owner died, ensuring the group’s number remained fixed at all times.

The Shichinin misaki, or 7-person ghosts, were the group of yokai that inspired these rogue shinobi. Born from dying at sea, the ghost troupe would appear as a group of seven, wreaking havoc on the living in an effort to possess and kill a host. Just as the Seven Ninja Swordsmen were tied to the Hidden Mist Village, the Shichinin misaki also appeared mainly near bodies of water before claiming their unwary victims.

4/10 Minato And Kushina’s Relationship Comes From A Japanese Parable About Fate And Love

Kushina And Minato's Red Thread Of Fate, Naruto

Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki found each other as most shinobi couples did: fighting in the midst of war. After saving Kushina from enemy shinobi by following her trail of red hair, Minato began a lifelong courtship before marrying her. The pair happily lived together and started a family before their ill-fated end.

Despite their tragic end, their meeting was guaranteed due to Japan’s mythos of love and marriage. Basically, it declares that every person’s pinky finger is tied with an invisible red thread that guides them to the person they’re meant to encounter. Luckily for them both, Kushina’s red hair ensured that Minato could always find her in a crowd.

3/10 Old Man Hiruzen Sarutobi Still Isn’t As Old As Sarutobi Sasuke, A Kodan Period Ninja

Hiruzen Sasuke Sarutobi, Naruto

Hiruzen Sarutobi, or Old Man Hiruzen, was Konoha’s Third Hokage. His strength rivaled even the First Hokages, garnering the title “God of Shinobi.” Hiruzen’s father, Sasuke, was equally revered, so much so that Mikoto Uchiha even named her second son after him.

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She couldn’t have chosen a shinobi with a better reputation, as Sarutobi Sasuke was a ninja who appeared in the kodan oral tradition. Known as the leader of the Sanada Ten Braves, Sarutobi Sasuke was renowned for his strength and monkey-like abilities; he was described as a superhero ninja with incredible, incomparable powers.

2/10 Kaguya Otsutsuki Otherworldliness Originates From The Tale Of The Bamboo Cutter

Kaguya Otsotsuki And The Tale Of The Bamboo Cutter, Naruto

Kaguya Otsutsuki was an alien who descended to Earth to deliver the Chakra Fruit to her family from another world. Appearing within a bamboo grove, she chose instead to consume the fruit and became the progenitor of chakra within the human world. After having children with the emperor, Kaguya was sealed inside the moon to prevent her taking over the world.

Kaguya’s original incarnation was much more peaceful when she debuted in “The Tale of the Bamboo-Cutter” during the Heian period. After being discovered as a baby within a glowing bamboo stalk, princess Kaguya grows beneath the care of a gentle bamboo-cutter to become a beautiful maiden. After earning the affections of the Emperor of Japan, Kaguya reveals her celestial origins and returns to live on the moon.

1/10 The Legendary Sannin’s Story Was Outlined In The Tale Of Jiraiya The Gallant

The Legendary Sannin And Tale Of Jiraiya Original Story, Naruto Shippuden-1

The Legendary Sannin were the trio of Konoha ninja who survived Hanzo’s Assault during the Second Shinobi War. Widely regarded as the strongest shinobi of their time, they created the infamous Three-Way Deadlock using their specialty summons: Tsunade’s slug Katsuyu, Orochimaru’s snake Manda, and Jiraiya’s toad Gamabunta.

The trio earned this power from their original selves, as outlined in “The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya.” In the original tale, Jiraiya and Tsunade are trained to defeat Orochimaru following the destruction of their clans. Using toad and slug magic respectively, they eventually defeat Orochimaru by exorcising the snake spirit within him. Orochimaru is eventually pardoned at the end of the story before Tsunade and Jiraiya are wed.

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