In Naruto, the Hyūga clan is divided into two houses: the main house and the branch house.
The main house members brand the branch house members with a Juinjutsu (Cursed mark), which has the objective of sealing away the Byakugan upon the death of the one branded. It also has the function of controlling the branch house members through the destruction of the wearer's brain cells, which can be activated by a hand seal only known by the main house members.

The seal looks like this:

Hyuuga clan seal

Although the Hyūga Main Family's Juinjutsu was altered in the anime for its resemblance with a swastika (and the connotation with the Nazi regime), the manga version maintains its original design.

Quoting directly from Wikipedia:

The word "swastika" comes from the Sanskrit swastika - "su" meaning "good," "asti" meaning "to be," and "ka" as a suffix. The swastika literally means "to be good". Or another translation can be made: "swa" is "higher self", "asti" meaning "being", and "ka" as a suffix, so the translation can be interpreted as "being with higher self".

Both these translations would fit (at least according to my interpretation) the secondary purpose of the Juinjutsu:
- To be good: the secondary function of the Juinjutsu is to control the branch house members, which is to 'make them good' (at least to make them submit themselves to the main house members' will).
- Being with higher self: the Juinjutsu links the branch house members ('lower self') with the main house members ('higher self').

Are there any canon sources that state:
If this resemblance is purely coincidental? Or if the seal is really a swastika?

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    Why its even altered in anime, if its because of its association with nazi then its too sad because Swastika is used way before Nazi's. – Ankit Sharma Apr 21 '15 at 11:16

It is probably intentionally a swastika, though it is definitely not referring to Naziism. I don't know anything about Naruto canon, so I have no official source, but swastikas are often highly stylized and this certainly fits the bill. Googling for "Hindu swastika" or "Buddhist swastika" will yield plenty of images, some of which are pretty distorted (more than the image you've posted), so it's very likely not a coincidence. For instance, this Hindu swastika is very common:

enter image description here.

Swastikas are common in Buddhism, Hinduism, and many other eastern religions (Buddhism being the most common in Japan), and are well-known in both the East and West, though with different interpretations. In particular, in Buddhism, the swastika is usually counter-clockwise (Nazi swastikas were clockwise, and the seal you have posted is counter-clockwise as one would expect of a Buddhist swastika). It doesn't have quite the same meaning as you've described in Buddhism; most Buddhists think of the Swastika as a symbol for eternity, protection, and good luck.

In Japanese, this Buddhist symbol is called manji or 卍字 and is used as a sort-of official symbol for Buddhism similar to how crosses represent Christianity. Maps usually indicate Buddhist temples with these manji. While Japanese people (as well as most other Eastern cultures) would recognize the Nazi swastika by it's design, they would not associate all swastikas with Naziism as many would in the West. In short, I'd be extremely surprised if anyone coincidentally drew one in a manga without intending some symbolism, and it's a common enough symbol that there may not be any official mention of it. The Wikipedia article has a lot of information on the subject, so it's worth a read.

As a note, swastikas are used in a number of other manga, including Yu Yu Hakusho and Blade of the Immortal (the latter retained the swastikas in the English versions).

  • Also the 卍 alone is read as まんじ, without 字. :) – Alenanno Jan 5 '13 at 11:26
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    It is also worth noting that in Bleach, the Bankai is written as "卍解". – Arturia Pendragon Jan 5 '13 at 12:32
  • So the swastika is 'automatically' associated with the meanings I and you said, in Eastern culture. Although I didn't think it had anything to do with Naziism (I already knew about the Swastika's origin, and had already read the Wikipedia page), I hadn't thought about the fact that the symbol in itself has a completely different 'automatic' association in our culture and in theirs. Nice! – JNat Jan 5 '13 at 13:40
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    @JNat The stuff about Naziism was more for other people who come upon this answer and don't know anything about swastikas apart from Nazis. In any case, as you say, the main idea is that swastikas are a pretty meaningful symbol in Japan, particularly connected to Buddhism, which wouldn't be drawn in just accidentally. – Logan M Jan 5 '13 at 21:56
  • @Alenanno It seems that まんじ can also be written as 万字 with the same meaning. – Logan M Jan 7 '13 at 23:45

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