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A Kage (影; Literally meaning "Shadow") is the leader of one of the five most powerful Hidden Villages and generally are also the most powerful ninja in their respective villages. They are collectively known as the Five Kage (五影, Gokage; Literally meaning "Five Shadows").
If a Kage has held their position for several decades, younger ninja are likely to have become much stronger than they are. In such cases, the Kage may retire and give the title to someone else. The title, once granted, is held permanently, that means even after they demit office they are still referred to as "Kage". This creates a case where there are two Kage at the same time, with only one of them actually active. The Kage stand equally with the rulers of their countries, oversee the activities of their villages, and are the leaders of ninja society. They typically are the ones who send the ninja teams out on their missions and make the decisions regarding the safety of the village. The five Kage are:
- The Hokage (火影; Literally meaning "Fire Shadow") of Konohagakure.
- The Kazekage (風影; Literally meaning "Wind Shadow") of Sunagakure.
- The Mizukage (水影; Literally meaning "Water Shadow") of Kirigakure.
- The Raikage (雷影; Literally meaning "Lightning Shadow") of Kumogakure.
- The Tsuchikage (土影; Literally meaning "Earth Shadow") of Iwagakure.
Although the village leaders of other hidden villages may be as strong or even stronger than any of the Kage, their villages have not earned enough recognition for them to bear this title. For example, the minor village Hoshigakure has unofficially dubbed each of its leaders the Hoshikage (星影; Literally meaning "Star Shadow"), signifying their ambition to be recognised as an equal to the five great villages. However, this title is only a name, and the five Kage do not recognise it as their equal. This also applies to the other minor villages, in that they are in no way equal to the five superpowers.
Since the creation of jinchūriki, it has become tradition for the host to be selected from the family of the village's own Kage. In this way, the jinchūriki not only has strong ties of loyalty to village and their leader, but they also serve to show off the Kage's might. For example, Killer B is the "brother" of the Fourth Raikage and Gaara is the son of the Fourth Kazekage.
List of Active Kage
- Naruto chapter 493, page 14