The Naruto anime and manga series takes place in an unnamed fictional world with numerous countries and locations.
When Masashi Kishimoto was creating the setting of the Naruto manga, he initially concentrated on the designs for the village of , the primary setting of the series. Kishimoto asserts that his design for Konohagakure was created "pretty spontaneously without much thought", but admits that the scenery is based on his home in the Okayama prefecture in Japan. Kishimoto created Konohagakure without specifying an era or location in the real world, noting that the village is "just a place in [his] head". Without a specific time period, Kishimoto included modern elements in the series such as convenience stores and movies, but specifically excluded projectile weapons and vehicles from the storyline. For reference materials, Kishimoto performs his own research into Japanese culture and alludes to it in his work. In an interview, he commented that he "often visits Japanese garden and [goes] to Kabuki performances" for reference material.
Kishimoto added that, as Naruto takes place in a "Japanese fantasy world," the creator has to "set certain rules, in a systematic way" so that he could easily "convey the story." Kishimoto wanted to "draw on" the Chinese zodiac tradition, which had a long-standing presence in Japan; the zodiac hand signs originate from this. Regarding technology, Kishimoto said that Naruto would not have any firearm. He said he may include automobiles, aircraft, and "low-processing" computers; Kishimoto specified the computers would "maybe" be eight-bit and that they would "definitely not" be sixteen-bit.
In the Naruto world, countries operate as separate political entities ruled by landlords. Within these countries are , settlements housing ninja, warriors capable of using supernatural abilities in combat. A hidden village maintains the economy of the parent country by training ninja from a young age and using them to perform missions for other countries. The ninja of a hidden village also serve as the military force of their parent country. The leaders of the hidden villages hold equal status with the leaders of their respective countries. Five countries in the Naruto world: the Land of Earth, the Land of Fire, Land of Lightning, the Land of Water, and the Land of Wind are known as the "Five Great Shinobi Nations". These countries are the most powerful in the Naruto world. They are ruled by a feudal lord and the leaders of the hidden villages in these countries hold the title of . Other apparently smaller nations have been named in passing, in either the manga or anime, but are yet to be explored.
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