A Kage (影; Literally meaning "Shadow") is the leader of one of the many 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, Gōkage), though there are more than five. If a Kage has held their position for several decades, as was the case with the Third Hokage, younger ninja are likely to have become 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. This creates a case where there are two Kage at the same time, with only one of them actually active, as it was with the Third and Fourth Hokage. After the Fourth died, the Third came out of retirement.
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.