As the Naruto series progressed, Masashi Kishimoto introduced new characters to help build his shinobi world. Some of those new characters were enemies, but others were teachers who would mentor Naruto and his friends. One of those mentors was Jiraiya.
Like Naruto, Jiraiya hailed from the Hidden Leaf Village. Unlike Naruto, Jiraiya spent a lot of time away from Konohagakure. As a result, Naruto wasn’t familiar with him until he went on a mission to track down Lady Tsunade. While on the mission, he found Jiraiya annoying, but he certainly learned a great deal. Jiraiya eventually became Naruto’s mentor, taking him from the village for two years to train.
Before Jiraiya became Naruto’s mentor, however, he had a whole life of his own. In fact, he had about five decades of life as a shinobi before meeting Naruto. Jiraiya trained in the Hidden Leaf Village, went on missions, made some enemies, and even fell in love. It takes a long time for the anime (and the manga) to reveal Jiraiya’s backstory. If you don’t want to sit through filler episodes to get it, or maybe you missed a few things the first time around, we’ve got you covered. We’ve assembled 25 Things Jiraiya Did Before The Start Of Naruto.
25 Jiraiya Graduated From The Ninja Academy Early
The Naruto franchise demonstrates that people from a wide range of ages graduate from the Ninja Academy. Aspiring shinobi might show a particular aptitude for skills in early childhood that allow them to finish the program very early.
Jiraiya is one of those early graduates. In flashbacks during the series, we discover that Jiraiya graduated at just six years old. During Naruto’s generation, most students graduating are closer to 12 or 13. Some notable exceptions who graduated early include Itachi Uchiha and Kakashi Hatake, all very powerful shinobi.
24 He Took (And Failed) The Bell Test
Fans got a taste of the bell test when Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke wound up on the same shinobi team. Kakashi challenged them to relieve him of two silver bells he carried. This test, however, was not unique to Kakashi’s teaching style.
As a young shinobi, Jiraiya’s team also underwent the bell test when they were first grouped together. While Tsunade and Orochimaru exercised caution and planning, Jiraiya plowed ahead, failing the test, much like his future pupil Naruto. They both grew into extremely accomplished shinobi despite their early failures at patience and teamwork.
23 He Trained Under Hiruzen Sarutobi
The Third Hokage became one of the most respected shinobi in Konohagakure. Part of that was a result of his power and longevity. He outlived many of the members of the three generations of shinobi that followed him!
The Third Hokage wasn’t always a political leader. Once, he taught young minds how to become shinobi. It was Hiruzen Sarutobi who administered Jiraiya’s bell test and became sensei to his team. Hiruzen Sarutobi taught Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Orochimaru the majority of the jutsu they knew.
22 He Developed A Crush On Tsunade
Always a flirt, and never one to pass up a chance to chat up a pretty lady, Jiraiya only ever seemed to have real feelings for one person. As a child he developed a crush on his teammate Tsunade.
Of course, Jiraiya expressed his interest by teasing Tsunade mercilessly before making passes at her, which didn’t go over too well. Even as an adult, he never seemed to let go of his feelings for her, despite their often antagonistic attitudes toward one another.
21 He Developed An Invisibility Jutsu
Jiraiya’s flirtations weren’t welcomed by most of the women he met. Knowing that, he went still further to catch a glimpse of pretty girls, often spying on them in hot springs. That led to a lot of angry confrontations, but it also led to him creating his own jutsu.
In order to avoid confrontation, Jiraiya found a way to harness his chakra to make himself appear invisible to the eye. While he initially used his new jutsu for nefarious purposes, it came in handy as an adult when he became a spy for his home village.
20 Jiraiya Repeatedly Faced Tsunade’s Wrath
The most frequent target of Jiraiya’s spying was his own teammate. Unfortunately for Jiraiya, Tsunade didn’t take kindly to his advances or being spied on. She didn’t just yell at him or tell anyone what he did. Instead, she took her anger out on him with her considerable strength and shinobi skills.
There were even times where Tsunade broke Jiraiya’s ribs and arms, too angry with him to worry about weakening her own team. It’s lucky for Jiraiya that shinobi heal relatively quickly.
19 He Tried To Summon An Animal Without A Contract
Because the Naruto anime series ran concurrently with the manga, there were times when the anime had to wait for the manga to catch up. As a result, slightly more anime content exists than manga content, filling in some backstory for characters.
One of those bits of backstory involved Jiraiya learning how to summon animals. He originally attempted to summon an animal without making a contract with one - something that is supposed to be impossible in the Naruto mythology. It didn’t exactly go as planned.
18 He Lived Among The Toads For Months
When Jiraiya tried to summon an animal without a contract, he actually ended up traveling to Mount Myoboku, the home of the giant toads. Rather than write his mistake off and move on, Jiraiya trained amongst the toads.
He lived with the toads for months, learning new jutsu from them, bonding with them, and becoming a better shinobi as a result. In times of need as an adult, he was then able to call on them for help. He also introduced Naruto to many of the toads, allowing his protege to train with them as well.
17 He Learned Of The Child Of Prophecy
One of the pieces of Jiraiya’s backstory that fueled his desire to travel was a prophecy. He learned the prophecy while living with the toads, and it was never far from his thoughts after.
According to the prophecy, he would meet a child on his travels, and then train the student who would either bring peace to the shinobi world or end it. During his time as a teacher, Jiraiya only appeared to take on a handful of students. In each generation, he trained a new student who could be considered the child of prophecy, culminating in his work with Naruto during the run of the series.
16 Jiraiya Fought In The Second Shinobi World War
Sometimes, it seems like the shinobi world is always at war. The leaders of the great nations never seem to see eye to eye on anything, which results in a lot of lying, spying, and infiltrating other countries. All of that leads to war.
During the events of Naruto Shippuden, we see the title character’s generation fight in the Fourth Shinobi World War. Two generations earlier, Jiraiya and his teammates fought in the Second Shinobi World War. Much like Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke, Jiraiya and his teammates often found themselves on their own against much larger forces.
15 He Became A Jonin
A shinobi like Jiraiya achieving the rank of Jonin might seem obvious, but there’s a reason this tidbit appears on the list. During the books (both the manga and supplemental materials), Jiraiya’s shinobi rank wasn’t initially given.
For all fans knew, Jiraiya could have been like Naruto or Sasuke, completing ninja training, but never actually passing his exams. Jiraiya grew up in a time of war as well, so he could have bypassed the exams in favor of contributing to the fight. We know, however, that at some point, Jiraiya passed both his Chunin and Jonin exams thanks to the anime labeling him as a Jonin.
14 He Earned The Title Of Legendary Sannin
During the course of the Second Shinobi World War, Jiraiya and his teammates found themselves up against impossible odds. The trio had to face off against Hanzo in Amegakure. Hanzo’s skills were legendary, and he left no opponents alive.
Hanzo decimated the battle field when he faced the trio. The three were the only ones left standing. For their bravery and skill, he dubbed them the Legendary Sannin. The name stuck with them, making Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Orochimaru legends to the next generations.
13 He Trained The Ame Orphan Trio
When the newly dubbed Legendary Sannin decided to return home, they came across a trio of orphans before they got back to Konohagakure. Orochimaru and Tsunade felt sorry for the children, but it was Jiraiya who decided to stay with them and help them get back on their feet.
Jiraiya became sensei to Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko. Each of the trio excelled in different areas of training, but Jiraiya focused largely on teaching them to survive. He even set up a system for them to warn one another of intruders at their new hideout. The trio eventually surpassed his teaching as Konan was thought of as an “angel” and Nagato became Pain when they took over Amegakure.
12 He Wrote A Book Inspired By Nagato
Jiraiya’s work with the trio of children from Ame inspired him - particularly Nagato. The little boy disliked conflict and hurting people. At the same time, he was fiercely protective of his friends. After a conversation with Jiraiya about protecting people he cared for, Nagato proclaimed that one day, he would find a path to peace, ending the bloodshed in the shinobi world.
It was Nagato’s desire that sparked the idea for a story in Jiraiya. He wrote his first novel, The Tale of the Utterly Gutsy Shinobi, and dedicated it to his student.
11 He Trained The Fourth Hokage
After training Nagato, but long before becoming Naruto’s mentor, Jiraiya took on another group of students. When he returned to Konohagakure, he became a sensei to a new team of shinobi in training. On that team was Minato Namikaze.
Jiraiya thought that Minato might actually be the prophetic child (though he thought the same thing about Nagato at one time). Minato was termed a “natural genius” as he picked up shinobi skills quickly and created his own jutsu at a young age. Jiraiya became his mentor, and eventually Minato became the Fourth Hokage.
10 Jiraiya Turned Down The Hokage Position
Minato might never have become the Fourth Hokage if the first person offered the position took it. The Third Hokage initially wanted Jiraiya to succeed him.
Jiraiya turned the job down, thinking he wasn’t good enough to become a political leader. He thought his own habits, like flirting with pretty girls and spying, weren’t befitting of a Hokage. When the Fourth Hokage lost his life, again Jiraiya could have had the job. Again, he turned it down, not thinking of himself as Hokage material, despite his powerful shinobi skills and his friends in other nations.
9 He Became Naruto’s Godfather
When Minato and his wife Kushina were expecting a child, they were quite taken with Jiraiya’s book. In fact, as a way to honor Jiraiya, and his book, they decided to name their child after one of his characters.
Though Jiraiya didn’t mention it to Naruto when the two met, the action actually spurred him becoming Naruto’s godfather. It does make some fans wonder why Jiraiya didn’t raise Naruto instead of leaving him to a village that hated him as a child.
8 He Became The Keeper Of The Nine-Tailed Fox Seal
Jiraiya wasn’t at home in Konohagakure when Naruto was born, but he certainly found out about the birth quickly.
Naruto’s birth caused the seal placed on his mother, and the spirit of the nine-tailed fox inside her, to weaken. Kushina didn’t survive the birth, and the fox was released to rampage in the village. Minato used all of his strength to seal the fox inside of Naruto, but he sent the key to the seal to someone else. A toad named Gerotora had the seal on his stomach, and the toad appeared to Jiraiya once the deed was done, making Jiraiya the keeper of the key to the seal.
7 He Fought Orochimaru
Though Jiraiya and Orochimaru were on the same shinobi team growing up, they weren’t particularly close. In fact, their team all went their separate ways, only reuniting to fight alongside one another in the Second Shinobi War.
When Orochimaru became obsessed with the idea of immortality, he started performing questionable experiments on children from Konohagakure and neighboring villages. Caught in the act, Orochimaru continued his experiments and took action, defecting from his home village. It wasn’t just any shinobi that were sent to stop him. Jiraiya fought his former teammate, but was bested by Orochimaru in the end.
6 He Tracked The Akatsuki
After Orochimaru defected, Jiraiya continued to track him across the shinobi nations. During that time, he learned about a group of shinobi who also left their villages behind, setting out on their own quest for power.
His interest in the group, and whether it was a threat, caused Jiraiya to begin monitoring their movements as well. Orochimaru eventually joined the group (and ultimately defected from it as well), allowing Jiraiya to kill two tracking birds with one stone. His travels allowed him to continue tracking the Akatsuki, even during the time the Naruto series began before fans learned of the group.
5 Jiraiya Wrote Bestselling Romance Novels
Jiraiya’s first book, The Tale of The Utterly Gutsy Shinobi, wasn’t a huge success. He turned to another aspect of his life for inspiration beyond his students: romance.
Though Jiraiya wasn’t lucky in love, the many scrapes he found himself in, and the different ways Tsunade rejected his advances, provided him with plenty of fodder for stories. He wrote novels, called the Icha Icha series, which took his tales of rejection and gave them a comedic spin. The novels became best sellers, making him a wealthy man before the events of the Naruto franchise even began.
4 He Learned The Rasengan
Jiraiya spent a lot of time observing Naruto master the steps of the Rasengan. It wasn’t always a skill he could pull out in a pinch. Jiraiya had to learn it as well.
Funnily enough, it was one of Jiraiya’s own students that developed the Rasengan. Minato Namikaze created the jutsu, which acted like a ball of pure chakra. By the time Jiraiya began training Naruto, he knew several variations of the jutsu, and could even perform two Rasengan at the same time, a feat that would exhaust most shinobi who had the skill.
3 He Formed A Spy Network
Jiraiya spent a lot of time away from Konohagakure. His first appearance doesn’t happen in the Naruto manga until chapter 90 of the tenth volume. Likewise, it takes more than 50 episodes for him to appear in the anime.
All of that time traveling means Jiraiya met a lot of interesting people. While flirting with pretty girls, researching for his books, and enjoying good food, Jiraiya had the perfect cover. He used his writer cover to not only track the Akatsuki, but also build a large network of spies around the country. He knew people everywhere who would report back to him.
2 He Memorized His Own Books
Plenty of writers are able to quote themselves, but Jiraiya was able to do more than that. He memorized his published novels, right down to what appeared on what page. He was able to send coded messages using the contents of his novels without having the novels in front of him. That only happened as a result of memorizing his own work.
To be fair, we don’t know for sure that this happened before the events of Naruto. Given how busy he was with training and the impending Akatsuki battle, he likely only had the time to do it before the series began.
1 Jiraiya Accumulated More Missions Than Any Other Character In The Franchise
During the course of the Naruto franchise, we only see Jiraiya undertake a handful of missions. Most of his time is devoted to training Naruto. Prior to the franchise start, however, he was apparently a star shinobi.
According to the databooks, which provide details right down to a character’s blood type, Jiraiya has more missions under his belt than anyone else. He beats out every character in the franchise for mission count. Given how few we see during the course of the story, most of those happened before he ever met Naruto. He has 1,839 completed missions. We have to wonder how he found the time.
Did you learn something knew about Jiraiya’s history before he met Naruto? Or is there something you think we left out? Let us know in the comments.