Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (影分身の術) literally translates into Shadow Clone Technique.

Is the word "kage" used to suggest that this technique was developed by a Ho-kage? Or does the jutsu have an actual connection to shadow?

  • Might refer to the original cloning technique which says 'A ninjutsu that creates an intangible copy of one's own body, without any substance' hence the shadow part
    – Dimitri mx
    Feb 3, 2015 at 14:37
  • It is said that the body's have no substance, shadows are a manifestation of nothing. It is the lack of something that you actually see. So the kage bunshin no jutsu would be a illusion of the lack of seeing yourself :P? the spanish comment said, go google it and you wil see it means shadow
    – Dimitri mx
    Feb 3, 2015 at 14:42
  • Corporeal matter is considerd to be a substance/ particle. Shadow clones burst into dust. Shadows build from dust? just a random guess on that one.
    – Dimitri mx
    Feb 3, 2015 at 14:49

2 Answers 2


You said the answer yourself in the comments: the "kage" part means the shadow clones...well, have a shadow. Regular clones lack substance and do not carry chakra, whereas shadow clones are basically copies of the person. Shadow clones carry and use their own bit of chakra that they receive from the original, so there is actual substance to them. The ninja way of summing this appears to be to say that "illusions do not cast shadows, but objects with substance do."

Generally it seems as though from a naming standpoint, a prefix to bunshin gives the clones some physical substance, whether is be water (水分身) or paper (紙分身) or something else. In my personal opinion shadows are merely quasi-physical in the sense that they are a lack of light in the midst of a more brightly lit surface, so it feels better if kage bunshin and regular bunshin were switched around. But hey, I guess adding the word "shadow" makes it sound cooler so it has to be the stronger spell.


The word "Kage" means "shadow".

That's why they call it the "Shadow Clone Technique" in the English dub (or at least the early ones).

The suffix "kage" in "Hokage" also means "shadow" ("Hokage" = "Fire Shadow", I believe).

  • 1
    Also, i'd like to add that at the beginning of the series, when Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke first leave of the Land of Waves, when Kakashi is talking about the other nations and the Kage he refers to them collectively as "The 5 Shadows"
    – Memor-X
    Feb 3, 2015 at 22:44
  • 1
    @EroSennin and my answer was that it actually means "shadow" Feb 4, 2015 at 15:40
  • @EroSennin Yes. It means that shadow. As in "the area of a surface that's not receiving light because an object is in the way" shadow. Some cultures like to imagine that shadows have more substance than that, especially in their fiction, and thus the clones are made out of "shadow". Feb 4, 2015 at 18:43

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