Hokage For Shortest Amount of Time: Who?

Here’s who was Hokage for the shortest amount of time and whether it was Kakashi:

Arguably, you could say that Kakashi, Danzo, or Minato served as the Hokage for the shortest amount of time.

When you include the events of Boruto, then Kakashi clearly served longer than either of the other two.

Since Danzo was never officially given the title, it means that Minato served the shortest tenure.

So if you want to learn all about the Hokage who served the shortest amount of time, then this article is for you.

Let’s jump into it!

Hokage For Shortest Amount of Time: Who? (3 Answers)

What Is a Hokage?

If you’re already a fan of the Naruto series, you can skip down a bit.

I’m going to break down all of the Hokages and then explain who held tenure for the least amount of time.

If you’re not already a big fan, then I need to explain a little bit first.

Hopefully, you already know that Naruto (and later Boruto) is about a world of ninjas.

In this fictional land, there are a number of different countries.

The military might of each country is made up of a cohort of ninjas, and each cohort is stationed in the nation’s hidden village.

There are five major countries in the world, and that means there are also five great hidden ninja villages (there are lesser villages too, but the five great ones matter the most).

Each of the villages is led by a single ninja, referred to as a kage (which literally means “shadow” in Japanese).

The kage at the head of each village has a unique name, and in Naruto’s village (Konoha), the leader is called the Hokage.

This is a formal office, and the village elders select the Hokage.

The title is so important that faces of the Hokages are carved into the mountainsides that surround the village.

At the most recent point in the story so far, there are seven faces carved into the mountain, representing seven total Hokage.

Spoiler Warning

That’s the gist of what we’re talking about.

From here forward, I’m going to discuss the seven Hokages and how long they held the title.

To do that, I’m going to have to discuss most of the major plot points in Naruto and possibly some major plot points in Boruto.

Consider this your main spoiler warning. If you read beyond this section, there will be major spoilers. Continue at your own risk.

Who Were the Hokages? (7 Hokages)

The easiest way to determine which Hokage held the office longest is to go through them, one at a time.

In total, there were seven Hokages, so I’ll explain each title, who held the title, and how long they were there.

Because of the nature of the Naruto story, most of the Hokages led the village for poorly defined periods of time.

But, with a little deduction and reasoning, I can put a time range on each character, and we can arrive at a definitive answer.

#1 First Hokage

The first of all of the Hokages was one of the founders of the village hidden in the leaves (Konoha) and was named Hashirama Senju.

(Remember that in formal Japanese, surnames come first, so if you watch the show in Japanese, they will say it as “Senju Hashirama.”)

Hashirama was a legend in his own right.

He helped unite the founding ninja clans of the leaf, and he was the leader of the village for an indefinite amount of time.

The issue with discussing Hashirama is that he died long before the first events that take place in the Naruto storyline.

On top of that, the original anime run had some contradictions regarding the first and second Hokages.

Some estimates suggest that Hashirama was the leader for around four years.

Others put the time frame a bit longer.

Still, we can go with four years as a minimum timeframe, and it’s enough to lead us to a satisfying answer by the end of all of this.

#2 Second Hokage

The second of the Hokages was Hashirama’s younger brother, Tobirama.

Tobirama, in the storyline, gets overshadowed pretty significantly by his brother.

Hashirama was the founder and the legend.

Tobirama was just the second in the line.

Despite being overshadowed, he’s actually pivotal to the plotline.

He invented most of the major ninja techniques that drive the story, and the bits and pieces we get about him are quite fascinating.

But, his timeline is also difficult to gauge.

Best estimates would put his tenure in the ballpark of a decade, but there is some room for confusion.

It seems that Tobirama was already the Hokage when the third was young and training.

And, the third didn’t take over until he was an adult.

If that holds true, then Tobirama would have needed to stay in the office for around a decade.

The problem is that the early parts of the story that show Tobirama training the third seem to be contradicted later in the story.

What we do know is that Tobirama was in office for multiple years, so it’s probably still enough.

#3 Third Hokage

The third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi, was at the head of the village when Naruto’s storyline began.

He’s an old man at this point, and he unquestionably sat in the office longer than anyone else on this list.

At the beginning of the story, he was heralded as the strongest of the Hokages.

Yet, he claims that the fourth was more powerful than himself.

Later in the story, all of this is starkly contradicted, and that’s when the storyline gets a bit muddled too.

But, we know with confidence that the third was around for the longest.

He took the office as a young adult, and he was at least in his 60s when he retired.

That gives him tenure in the range of 40 years, but that wasn’t all.

At the beginning of Naruto, Hiruzen is actually serving a second term as Hokage, and this term lasts for around 12 years.

His 12-year tenure would be in competition for the longest reign.

The 40 years before that dwarf everyone else.

#4 Fourth Hokage

The fourth Hokage was named Minato Namikaze.

At the beginning of the series, he is already dead, and he is treated as an amazing legend within the leaf village.

It turns out that when Naruto was just a baby, the village was attacked by a demon monster (the nine-tailed fox).

Minato single-handedly saved the village, but he died in the process.

Later on, we find out that Minato was Naruto’s father, and this event happened literally the day that naruto was born.

Minato’s tenure, like the other Hokages, is difficult to pin down to an absolute time scale, but we can narrow down a few things.

First, Minato’s wife (Kushina) was not yet pregnant with Naruto when he first took the office.

We know that he died the day Naruto was born, and we also know that Kushina was pregnant for 10 months.

So, Minato was Hokage for at least 10 months.

We can also gauge Minato’s tenure by Kakashi’s age.

Kakashi was still young when Minato took the post of Hokage.

Best estimates are that Kakashi aged about two years before the fateful fox attack.

So, Minato was the Hokage somewhere between 10 months and 2 years.

I’m going to use the 2-year number, but you’ll see that even if it was only 10 months, we can still come up with a good answer.

#5 Fifth Hokage

We’ve made it to the fifth Hokage, named Tsunade Senju.

Tsunade is actually the granddaughter of the first Hokage, and we are well into the Naruto storyline when she takes the post.

In fact, a young Naruto goes on a mission for the village to find her and ask her to become the Hokage.

Not only that, Naruto is the one who convinces her to take the post.

So, Tsunade takes over when Naruto is around 12, and she’s the Hokage at the end of Naruto Shippuden.

From the end of Naruto to the beginning of Shippuden, there is a two-year time skip, and Tsunade is the Hokage the whole time.

The events of Shippuden are a little less clear in terms of timing, but they probably take about two years in total.

So, we can place Tsunade’s reign in the realm of four total years.

#6 Sixth Hokage

Ok. This is where things get a lot weirder.

Big fans of the series might say that the sixth Hokage was Kakashi Hatake and be done with it, but things are a little complicated.

During the events of Shippuden, the leaf village is attacked by Pain.

He levels the village, but Tsunade is able to save the people of the village using a special technique.

The strain this puts on her ultimately puts her in a coma, so someone else has to be the Hokage while she’s out.

The village selects Danzo.

So, he’s acting Hokage for a duration.

I’ll cover his events in more detail in a later section, but arguably, Danzo was the sixth person to hold the office of Hokage.

Ultimately, Danzo doesn’t last very long, and Kakashi becomes the interim Hokage.

Again, this doesn’t last very long, and Tsunade recovers.

She retains the post for the remainder of Shippuden.

Still, she does eventually retire, and at that point, Kakashi becomes the sixth Hokage.

He’s Hokage during events that take place between the end of Shippuden and the beginning of Boruto.

It’s tough to say how long this takes, but it does last multiple years, probably longer than Minato was at the post.

#7 Seventh Hokage

The seventh and final Hokage on the list is Naruto.

At the start of Boruto, he is the Hokage and has been for some years.

Again, time scales aren’t perfectly clear, but it seems that he holds the office for at least four years and possibly longer.

Also, as of the time of this writing, he’s still the Hokage in Boruto, and that series is still running.

So, I can’t tell you how long he lasts as Hokage, but he definitely doesn’t have the shortest tenure.

Interestingly enough, for a topic that takes place in a series named after Naruto, he’s a minor character in terms of answering this question.

Who Was Hokage for the Shortest Amount of Time? (3 Answers)

If you go through the full list above, you can come up with your own answer to the question.

But, if you really pay attention, there are arguably three answers: Danzo, Kakashi, and Minato.

So, I’m going to present the case for each of those answers, and in doing so, I’ll explain why the answer really is Minato, the fourth Hokage.

#1 Danzo

Danzo called himself the Hokage, and he was recognized as the Hokage at a summit of the five great nations.

So, the other kages referred to him as the Hokage too.

That lends at least some credibility to the idea that he was in fact the sixth Hokage.

If you take this at face value, then Danzo was Hokage for the shortest period of time.

He assumed the office after the Pain fight and immediately went to the five-kage summit.

The summit was attacked, and Danzo fled. He was killed in a fight while fleeing the summit.

Basically, he was Hokage for however long it took him to get to the summit, which was almost certainly a matter of days.

On the other hand, there are only seven faces on the rocks outside of Konoha, and none of those faces belong to Danzo.

It’s probably more accurate to say that he was only an acting Hokage (often called a Hokage candidate) and never actually the real thing.

Most fans would say that he wasn’t actually the sixth Hokage, and I’m inclined to agree.

You can call him the shortest-lasting Hokage if you want, but I’m putting an asterisk on that record.

#2 Kakashi

Now, we get to Kakashi.

He took the post of acting Hokage after Danzo was killed and until Tsunade woke up.

This still wasn’t a terribly long time, and it’s hard to say if Kakashi held the position longer than Danzo or not.

Shortly after the five-kage summit, Tsunade woke up and led Konoha through the greatest of all ninja wars.

Ultimately, this doesn’t matter because of Kakashi’s second round in the seat.

Kakashi’s time as a Hokage candidate was really setting up the idea that he would be the Hokage later, and when he did officially take the office, he said that he was really only holding it until Naruto was ready to assume the position.

Regardless, he was Hokage for a number of years, maybe even a total of 10.

There’s not a strong argument to say Kakashi held the office for less total time than Minato.

#3 Minato

So, if we don’t count Danzo, then the title falls to Minato.

He was known as the fastest of all of the kages, and that seems to apply to his time in office as well.

Minato’s two years or less puts him as the shortest-serving official Hokage with a face on the mountain.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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