How did Hashirama die when he was unarguably among the most powerful shinobis of his time? The Naruto anime and manga never made it clear how he met his end.
Did he die in battle protecting the Hidden Leaf village? Was he afflicted by a fatal disease? Could he have run out of lifespan due to excessive chakra use? Or was it just old age that got the better of him?
The cause of his death was never clearly explained in the Naruto series. A scion of the Senju clan, he was the co-founder of the Hidden Leaf village along with Madara Uchiha, and its first Hokage.
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Hashirama, the man, the myth, the legend
Hashirama Senju was born into the Senju clan which was constantly battling against the Uchiha clan. The Senjus were descendants of Otsusuki Asura and inherited a large chakra reserve and very strong life force.
Hence the name Senju, which translates to ‘a thousand skills’ or ‘a thousand hands’.
The Uchihas on the other hand were born with Hagoromo’s eyes which they inherited from Indra Otsusuki. They could harness the power of their eyes using strong emotions.
The trouble between the Uchiha and the Senju clans dates back to the time of the Sage of the Six Paths.
Asura was elected as the successor of the Sage of Six Paths. Indra, believing himself to be the rightful successor, battled against Asura.
This rivalry bled into the future, with the Uchiha and the Senju clans in a state of constant clash. In such a tumultuous time, two exceptional jutsu users were born.
Though constantly made to battle against rival clans, Madara and Hashirama started to question the need and necessity of the prolonged conflict.
Unaware of each other’s real identities in the beginning, the two became friends after some chance encounters.
The relationship took a turn when they found out each other’s identity. After multiple bloody battles, both sides brokered peace.
Under the leadership of Madara and Hashirama, the Hidden Leaf village was established. It served as a joint residence for various clans, a safe haven of peace and co-operation, away from war.
Hashirama was elected as the first Hokage of the Hidden Leaf village. Soon Madara defected and waged a solo war against Hidden Leaf. Even after epic battles of mammoth proportions involving sage mode and the tailed beasts, Madara could not kill Hashirama.
Both eventually acknowledged each other’s strength. None at the time could match them in raw power.
Madara was eventually vanquished by Hashirama. The former, though potent with the incredible mangekyo sharingan and the nine tailed beast, could not best latter’s perfect sage mode and his wood style jutsu.
Though the threat of Madara was neutered, there was hardly any stability in the Hidden Leaf village. The shinobi world back then was rife with conflict and peace was in a state of flux.
Hashirama was determined to end the conflict that was plaguing the ninja world. He came up with the plan to distribute the tailed beasts among the shinobi villages.
He reasoned that the threat of tailed beasts along with their owners called Jinchuriki, would dissuade any potential war between the villages.
Rather than stopping the legendary ninjas from going to war, this increased the lethality of the aggressive encounters between their nations.
In a bid to gain resources, the five great nations went to war against each other. The war was long and bloody with much loss of life. The First Shinobi World War ended with the Armistice.
It was during the first shinobi world war that Hashirama Senju died. It is not directly shown or even implied how he died. Hence fans have come up with may scenarios that could have killed Hashirama.
Let’s have a look at some of the most promising theories that could shed light on the shocking demise of such a magnificent shinobi.
1 – Frequent use of healing jutsu
Hashirama was proficient in using wood style jutsu. Wood Release lent him elevated healing and substantial regeneration ability. This healing may have shortened his lifespan.
In Naruto, many jutsus are shown to reduce the lifespan of its users. The reduction in lifespan may be due to the skill using too much chakra, and hence boring into the user’s life force.
Wounds sustained by Hashirama during the many battles he fought ranged from scratches to grievous injuries.
Damage from strong opponents, especially Madara Uchiha, required much more chakra to heal as compared to normal ones. Frequent use of such techniques might have sapped much of his life.
2 – Overuse of chakra
The thousand arms summon that he used against Madara is one of the examples of the magnificent techniques he had mastered.
Chakra is the vital energy of the ninjas which gives them power to invoke powerful jutsu and keeps them alive at the same time.
Running out of chakra is fatal for the jutsu user. A good example of this is the releasing of the Eighth Gate by Might Guy while fighting Madara.
The consumption of his own chakra gave Guy incredible power, but eventually could have led to his death.
Hashirama was known for his powerful jutsus. Even during the Third Great Ninja War, the reanimated Hashirama was the only one who could stand his ground solo against Madara.
Though Zetsu was the one who betrayed Madara and resurrected Kaguya, in a one-on-one fight Zetsu stood no chance against either.
Invoking such massive jutsu will definitely be a concern for a normal shinobi. Even though Hashirama had a large reserve of chakra, even he would eventually run out of it if used relentlessly.
This is especially true when required to use very powerful techniques back-to-back. Reckless use of his chakra might have been one of the causes of Hashirama’s demise, if not the main cause.
But this seems unlikely given the fact that he has been constantly in battle against powerful foes throughout his life. Indeed, how could someone with such martial prowess have made such a mistake?
After all his fighting experience, it is more reasonable to believe that Hashirama would be adept at chakra management.
It is known that he died sometime during the First Ninja War. Though familiar with battle, the scale of the First Shinobi World War would have been a shock even to Hashirama.
It was not a battle between rival clans or sworn enemies, but between multiple shinobi villages. The battle was more organized that previously seen.
While it is a bit difficult to imagine someone getting the best of Hashirama during battle, a battalion of ninja troops may have caused him to use all of his chakra in desperation.
3 – Died in combat
Hashirama’s life was filled with strife and conflict. He spent much of his life between battles.
He was a prodigal ninja with the moniker of the God of Shinobi. Yet there is a possibility that he succumbed in the field of battle rather than away from it.
As the saying goes, one who lives by the sword dies by it. Hashirama might have met his match during the First Great Ninja War.
But who killed Hashirama Senju? Wouldn’t this anonymous fighter be considered a legendary ninja for this feat?
It may be difficult to imagine someone powerful enough to kill him. How can any shinobi match someone who can give tailed beasts a run for their money?
No single man may have pushed Hashirama to the edge, but a village worth of shinobi is a different story.
An elite squad of ninjas could have killed him. Maybe they took Tsunade as a hostage to force Hashirama into a complicated situation.
He was a free spirited but caring person. He could never leave a person in distress and would try to save lives at the cost of his own. Is it possible that this was taken advantage of?
Some theories suggest that Black Zetsu was behind Hashirama’s death. His assassination could have been orchestrated by Zetsu to further his plans to resurrect Kaguya.
Imagine if Hashirama was able to bring peace to the shinobi world and thus prevent the events that led to the Fourth Great Ninja War.
The threat of him finding Madara and convincing him to change his mind could have been too real for Zetsu to ignore.
4 – Sickness
Even the mighty fall victim to diseases. Be it kings or paupers, pestilence is a tragedy that visits all.
No mortal could match Hashirama during his prime. But he might have been afflicted with a fatal illness some time before his end.
Diseases are a common occurrence in times of war, and it is safe to assume that this might have been the case in the Naruto universe too.
It is possible that because of the squalor resulting from constant conflict, Hashirama contracted an incurable disease.
Alternately, he might have been a victim of a bio-weapon, a ninja technique which could have caused disease. The possibility of a chakra-eating disease cannot be overlooked.
Many medical-based ninjutsu exist in the Naruto universe. Hence it is natural to think that disease-based ninjutsu might also be present, albeit rare.
The possibility of a rare ninjutsu developing during times of conflict exists. And it might have been difficult to identify and cure such a virulent and devastating technique in the chaos of war.
The most probable case though is that Senju Hashirama was suffering from cancer. The wood style provides its user with accelerated healing.
It is possible that the accelerated healing might have mutated into something similar to cancer, causing one of the strongest ever ninjas to perish.
5 – Old age
Hashirama’s strength makes it difficult to imagine someone strong enough to take him down, let alone take him out.
A man who has attained such a legendary status would surely have laid down his own life in a legendary way.
But it’s possible time just caught up to him. Nowhere in the anime is it shown that Hashirama was or could have been defeated.
Someone powerful enough to bring him down would surely be given their own arc. They could’ve been a good addition to team Madara or team Zetsu.
The person who sent the God of Shinobi to the underworld would definitely be a great candidate for the reanimation jutsu.
No one related to Hashirama ever talks about him being killed or facing some mortal crisis. Even Tsunade, his beloved granddaughter, does not hint about an untimely death taking him.
It’s also hard to believe that he might have committed suicide. He is a cheerful person even after being reanimated. There seems to be no indication of any trauma he may have faced.
Maybe Hashirama Senju died a happy old man. It might sound premature by modern standards, but the life expectancy could have been lower in the world of Naruto if it’s comparable to earlier centuries on Earth.
So the assumption that Hashirama died naturally between the ages of 55 to 65 is a reasonable one.
Alternately, overuse of chakra might have shortened his lifespan, but you could still say that he died of old age accordingly.
How did Tobirama die?
Hashirama is credited with conceptualizing Konoha, but the one who built the village system was Tobirama.
He was also the person who established the Anbu and the Konoha military police force which was dominated by the Uchiha clan. He also mentored the third Hokage Hiruzen.
Tobirama became Hokage during the first Great Shinobi War. Mired by conflict and chaos, he tried his best to establish peace between the great villages.
Yet the flames of war would eventually lead to his death. Tobirama sacrificed his life when he served as a decoy so his students could escape a force led by Ginkaku and Kinkaku who ambushed them.
Among the escaped students was Sarutobi, who is chosen as Tobirama’s successor and the third Hokage.
While much speculation remains on how Hashirama died, fans should keep in mind the world he wanted to create. The fight for peace need not shape into conflict, but can be achieved by dialogue.
He is among the most enigmatic characters in Naruto. His actions have had far reaching effects and were critical in establishing the foundations of the storyline.
We do not need to know how Hashirama died to remember how he lived.