Kage (影, Literally meaning: Shadow) is a title reserved for the leader of one of the Five Great Shinobi Countries' hidden villages, and is commonly used to refer to leaders of minor hidden villages as well. A Kage oversees the activities of their village, from sending ninja on assignments to making the hard decisions regarding the safety of their people. A village's Kage is generally acknowledged as its most powerful ninja.
The title was originally created by Hashirama Senju soon after the formation of Konohagakure, making him the first Kage to exist after being elected by the population of his village and country. After the creation of the position, other nations praised the innovative system that had been created and soon began to imitate.
In the past, before the creation of the Shinobi Union, interaction between the Kage was rare, as a Kage's primary concern is their village; only during treaty-signing ceremonies or shared public events has a Kage been seen to interact with one of his or her peers. The only time that all five Kage are together is during a Kage Summit, which can be convened by any of the five to discuss topics that apply to all of their villages.
Each of the Five Great Hidden villages has its own name for its Kage:
- 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.