Yamato, also referred to as Tenzo, is an Anbu member who would turn jonin and take control over Team 7, featuring Sai, Naruto, and Sakura. Even when Kakashi came back, Yamato was often seen with the young squad, assisting them during their missions.
Yamato is a unique character who can control the wood element. He is a product of a successful experiment, making him one of the rare people in the ninja world who can control this power. For the most part, he utilizes wood element to subdue enemies, but he can also use it for defense and offense.
In this Yamato Naruto guide, I will talk about this powerful jonin, his background, character, and appearances in anime.
Key Info Up Front
Yamato is a former Anbu who has turned jonin. He can control wooden element, making him a very unique fighter within the ninja world. He is very calm, calculated, and rarely shows emotion, but, at the same time, he serves as a great mentor for Naruto and Team 7.
Yamato’s Personal Info
Tenzo is portrayed as a character that is between a living and an artificial being. Although he has all the traits of a human, there is something very cold about him, and he often resembles a machine.
Yamato has shown a lot of potential from an early age. He would finish the academy when he was 6-years old and would instantly be promoted to chunin. Like many other unfortunate souls, he was taken by Orochimaru, who would perform inhuman experiments on this promising ninja.
Orochimaru was obsessed with replicating the First Hokage’s wooden element. Among others, he would inject Yamato with Hokage’s DNA in an attempt to create a new wood user. Before the project could finish, he was discovered by Anbu and had to flee the village.
Tenzo was the only survivor of these experiments. The young ninja inherited the power to control wood but also tailed bests (something that only the First Hokage could do). He was soon discovered by Danzo, who took him under his wing and promoted him to Anbu under the alias Kinoe.
Yamato, Kakashi, and Itachi
During his childhood, Yamato was trained by Danzo. During this period, he was a part of several missions where Yamato went against the orders, not wanting to harm other Hidden Leaf villagers.
Later on, the wood user became a part of Kakashi’s team, who served as a great mentor. Over time, the two of them developed a close bond. Two years into his tenure within Team Ro, Itachi Uchiha joined the group. At the time, he was the youngest Anbu ever. Most ninjas were against this move due to the boy’s age and signs of immaturity, but Kakashi and Yamato have welcomed Itachi with open arms.
The boy has shown a lot of promise from the get-go, becoming a captain after two years. This was really shocking even for Yamato and Kakashi, who believed in Itachi’s potential. Itachi went his own way and was transferred to a different team, while Yamato and Kakashi stayed with Team Ro.
Later that year, while investigating the killing of the Uchiha clan, Tenzo was shocked to hear that Uchiha was behind this atrocity. The news was especially devastating to Kakashi, who would later resign from Anbu, becoming a jonin sensei.
Both Yamato and Kakashi found their peace after the events. Kakashi was satisfied with his new position as a teacher, being able to mold new ninjas and teach them wisdom. On the other hand, Yamato had a great Anbu career, having the best performance record during the Third Hokage era.
Together with Sai, Yamato is the most distant and reserved character in the anime. He takes his job very seriously and always focuses on preparation before big battles. In situations where Tenzo had to choose between taking a risk and being cautious, he would almost always choose the latter.
In many ways, Yamato is a broken person. He doesn’t have any recollection of his family or early days. He only exists to serve the Hidden Leaf Village and its citizens, taking a lot of pride in his work. True to his skillset, Yamato loves architecture, which you can notice based on all the wooden creations he makes during missions. After the destruction of the village by Pain, he had a vital role in recreating structures.
Although both Kakashi and Yamato can be strict at times, Tenzo has no problem instilling fear into his students. In fact, he utilizes this tool as a disciplinary measure. In numerous scenes, you can see the wood user intimidating his students with glaring, blank eyes. However, this stare was often used as a comedy tool.
Yamato’s Jovial Side
There are a few extreme contrasts in Yamato’s behavior. Although he often seems distant, cold, and almost mechanical, he can also be approachable and funny. For example, he often played pranks on Naruto during his time with Team 7. This is especially noticeable in filler episodes.
One of the things Tenzo loves doing is scaring Naruto with his ghost stories. He would use his devilish stare to further terrorize Naruto, who is generally too gullible. These are some of the rare situations where you can notice a different side to Yamato, who is otherwise all business.
Tenzo sometimes gets frustrated by older ninjas and village serious. They often take wood elements for granted and would ask the ninja to create fabulous structures without considering the toll it takes on Yamato’s body. Regardless, Yamato is a very mature, detail-oriented person who respects hierarchy and all villagers without showing any favoritism to his students.
If we exclude the face, Yamato’s model is very bland. Throughout the show, he is seen in the usual jonin attire, with a flak jacket, long black pants, and open-toe boots. The only noticeable difference is that he doesn’t have the Uzushiogakure crest on the shoulders. Furthermore, instead of having one pouch, as most ninjas do, he has two of them.
Despite being bland, there are a few details on his face that make Yamato unique. First off, he has a metallic frame around his face, which is a very rare clothing detail in the series. However, the most interesting thing about the character is his eyes, which are full-colored, making them look blank and expressionless.
During his Anbu days, Yamato had standard Anbu attire with a cat mask. When he was younger, Tenzo looked very different, with long black hair.
Yamato’s Appearances in Manga and Anime
Yamato made his appearance in the 34th episode of Naruto Shippuden anime and the 284th episode of manga. Since his appearance, he has had a prominent role and is often paired with Naruto, Sakura, Sai, and Kakashi.
Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission
Yamato and Sai were introduced at a similar moment. They became new members of Team 7, filling for Sasuke and Kakashi. Sai proved to be very antisocial and hard to work with, and Yamato had to find a way to improve team cohesion.
During their first mission, they went to Tenchi Bridge to meet up with a spy. Instead of the spy, they were greeted by Kabuto Yakushi, Orochimaru’s crony. During the meeting, Yamato was pretending to be an informant called Sasori. He learned a lot about Orochimaru’s plans from Kabuto. After a bit, Orochimaru appeared on the scene.
Realizing the danger he’s in, Yamato started thinking about an exit strategy. Orochimaru would eventually see through his mask, suddenly attacking Tenzo. Luckily, he managed to escape in the nick of time. The rest of Team 7 appeared, and Naruto would take the front engaging Orochimaru head-on. The battle was short and without a clear winner.
When everything was said and done, Team 7 realized that Sai had disappeared and had probably grouped up with Orochimaru after the battle. They followed Sai to Orochimaru’s lair, eventually capturing and restraining him. This was when Sai discovered his secret mission given to him by the Root organization. After going back and forth, the group decided to reconcile their differences.
Sasuke, who was with Orochimaru this whole time, made his appearance. The battle was very one-sided, with Sasuke emerging as the victor. He didn’t want to finish off his former comrades; he just left the scene with Kabuto and Orochimaru leaving Team 7 to lick its wounds.
Twelve Guardian Ninja
During this arc, Team 7 visits the Fire Temple. This is the place where deceased Twelve Guardian Ninjas are buried. They quickly realize that 3 graves are empty. Not knowing what to expect, the team continued scouring the premises with the utmost caution, trying to learn more about the missing corpses.
Without any warning, a trap was sprung, leaving the team in a precarious position. One of the thieves called Fudo made his appearance. He viciously attacked Yamato forcing the wood user to defend himself. Eventually, he would trick Fudo, thus ensuring the escape. Team 7 didn’t manage to retrieve any corpses, and they were forced to go back to Konoha.
Tomb raiders eventually came to attack Hidden Leaf Village. Yamato was one of the few senior ninjas available for the defense. He was once again engaged by Fudo, but this time around, he was prepared. Tenzo utilized the water technique trapping the earth user in mud. While prone, Fudo was an easy target for Yamato’s crushing wood technique.
By joining forces with a few other jonins, including Asuma, Team 7 managed to avert disaster.
Akatsuki Suppression Mission
At the start of the arc, Kakashi and Yamato help Naruto develop wind affinity. Tenzo was crucial for subduing potential Nine-tails rampage. After mastering the element, Naruto went on to implement wind into his Rasengan.
Kakashi had to leave them, but Yamato stayed with Naruto throughout the training, and he had the good fortune to see the junior develop the devastating Rasenshuriken technique. After mastering the new ability, two of them were ready to join Team 10 and Team 7, who were already in the field battling Kakuzu.
They made it in the nick of time to save Kakashi and chunins. Naruto convinced the others to let him battle Kakuzu one-on-one. By using Rasenshuriken, he easily defeated the powerful Akatsuki member.
During this arc, Team 7 and Team 8 have a mission of investigating Three-Tail’s appearance. They go after Team Guren, where they encounter Three-Tails. The Konoha teams tried to seal the beast, with Yamato overseeing the operation.
The protagonists quickly regrouped under a wooden hideout made by Yamato and went after Naruto, who engaged the monster. Unfortunately, even after the second attempt, they weren’t able to complete the task.
Itachi Pursuit Mission
Kakashi has created a plan for capturing Itachi, thinking that this is the best way to lure Sasuke out of his hiding. Yamato led Team 8 during the mission.
In the following arc, the team was engaged by Tobi. Yamato managed to subdue the powerful Akatsuki, but only for a moment. Tobi somehow dodged everything that was thrown at him. While all of this was happening, Sasuke and Itachi battled each other, with Sasuke emerging victories.
Upon learning the outcome of the battle, Tobi quickly left the scene. The newly formed Konoha team couldn’t track Sasuke after the fight, and they were forced to return to Konoha empty-handed once again.
As the team was going back to the village, they were approached by Katsuyu, who gave them a new mission. Their new task was to provide support to the Tshuchigumo clan and, in particular, safeguard the clan’s powerful, secret technique.
Tenzo is once again in charge of the operation. Unfortunately, once they reach the village, they realize that the bandits have attacked the place and that the clan’s leader, Hotaru, had to leave the premises with the scroll. They eventually managed to track her and return her to the village.
As they were returning back, Naruto had expressed his concern regarding the situation, stating that something fishy was going on. The team decided to go back. To their dismay, they realize that Hotaru was captured by the same people, who turned out to be members of the village’s Anbu team.
They agreed to give Hotaru as long as the Konoha team delivered her friend, Utakata, in exchange. Yamato refused this, stating that Hotaru wouldn’t like this exchange. As a way to prevent a war, Anbu members decided to fork over Hotaru, telling Yamato that they would still pursue the wanted man, Utakata, afterward.
Later on, the Konoha team was shocked to discover there was never a scroll with a forbidden technique. Instead, the formula was tattooed on Hotaru’s back. Eventually, they would manage to destroy the writings, and after another skirmish with local villains, the team would go back to Konoha.
Yamato had a minor role during Pain’s Assault arc. For the most part, he was away with Sai and Anko as they were trying to capture Kabuto. While all of this was happening, Pain attacked the village. Tenzo realized what was happening based on the ninjitsu sign that appeared on his hand, telling him how many tails Naruto had manifested.
As he came back to the village, Yamato was relieved when he realized that Naruto had managed to surprise Kyuubi’s power by himself. Later on in the arc, the wood user was crucial for rebuilding the Hidden Leaf Village.
Five Kage Summit
At the start of the arc, Yamato has his hands full with chores around the village. Naruto tried to persuade Tenzo to go with him so they could meet up with Fourth Raikage. Although initially reluctant, Kakashi eventually managed to persuade Yamato to accompany Naruto.
During their journey, Kakashi, Naruto, and Tenzo are attacked by Tobi. The two seniors tried to capture the Akatsuki member but to no avail. To their surprise, Tobi revealed them Sasuke’s plans as well as the truth behind the Uchiha clan’s destruction. Still shocked by the revelation, the group decided to keep this information to themselves until they could corroborate whether its true or not.
Sai and Sakura arrived at the scene a bit later. Sai revealed to Naruto that Sakura plants to kill Sasuke, which might explain her strange behavior during the meet-up. Sakura went her separate way, and just as Kakashi was getting ready to follow her, Gaara appeared in front of the group, informing them of the start of the Fourth Shinobi World War.
Kakashi went to pursue Sakura, while Yamato stayed with exhausted Naruto. When our hero woke up, he wanted to pursue Sakura, but Tenzo wouldn’t allow it. Naruto tricked Yamato and would sneak out in the back. Although the wood user managed to catch up, Naruto persuaded the jonin to leave him be so he could assist Sakura.
During this filler arc, Kakashi’s team checks the strange occurrences at Tonika village. The group was attacked by Kabuto’s reincarnation and a few other villains. Yamato is forced to battle Hidan’s clone during the engagement.
After the fight, Sai and Yamato managed to gather information about a sacred place known as the Hole. The ninjas are worried about Kabuto’s plans; they want to uncover his intentions regarding the Hole. Eventually, they were once again attacked by Kabuto and would emerge victorious from the battle.
Fourth Shinobi World War: Countdown
At the start of the arc, Shikamaru and Yamato are in a bar. The wood ninja is worried about Naruto and the fact he can no longer suppress Nine-tail’s power. Later on, Yamato accompanies Naruto as he heads out to the Land of Lightning.
Here, Naruto wants to challenge the Kyuubi and finally master his inner power. To do so, Yamato, Naruto, and Motoi go to Falls of Truth. Following Tenzo’s instructions, Naruto managed to penetrate his subconscious. While fighting the demon internally, Yamato surprises the evil energy from the outside. To Tenzo’s surprise, at one point, the malicious aura stops by itself.
Naruto emerges from his slumber, telling the teammates that he managed to conquer the best. Naruto now has a deep understanding of chakra in his vicinity, managing to even detect Kisame within Samehada’s sword. Kisame flees the scene, and while Naruto tries to go after him, he can’t do so because of his limited command over the newly acquired power. Yamato helps our young protagonist to his feet while B continues the chase.
Yamato suggests caution to Naruto; the wood user told him that he required better control. They would eventually catch up with B, who had already captured Kisame. As Aoba Yamashiro tries to learn more from Kisame regarding Akatsuki’s plans, Kisame manages to commit suicide.
Akatsuki’s Attack on the Island
All this time, Yamato kept a secret from Naruto. He didn’t want to reveal the fact that the young ninja was on the island for his own protection. Given that Naruto had already obtained the power to control Kyuubi, Yamato is looking for an excuse to stay on the island. In the end, he told Naruto to go around the island and get acquainted with the local flora and fauna. As this is happening, the Land of Lightning is attacked by Akatsuki.
While the battle rages around them, Yamato doesn’t want Naruto to know they are being invaded. When the fighting subsided, Yamato, Motoi, and Aoba roam the island to find remnants of Akatsuki forces and would eventually stumble upon Kabuto.
While apprehended by Yamato’s wood technique, Aoba once again tried to read the enemy’s mind. Unfortunately, Kabuto escaped the trap by shedding skin. Immediately after this, Kabuto turns the tables capturing Yamato. Later on, Obito and Kabuto interrogated Tenzo learning more about Allied Shiboi Forces’ plans. After extracting his gene so they can use it for new White Zetsus, the villains leave Yamato to his own devices.
Birth of the Ten-Tails’ Jinchuriki
Toward the end of Naruto, Tenzo had a much smaller role. During the majority of the war, he was captured by Tobi, who utilized Yamato as a way of strengthening his own wood powers. When Madara utilized his Infinite Tsukuyomi technique, Yamato’s powers were no longer necessary. So, the villain would release Tenzo from his grasp.
Although in an unconscious state, Yamato could still dream. He saw himself as a valuable member of the Hidden Leaf community and a permanent fixture of Team 7, which now also featured Sasuke. Upon being released, Yamato went to confront Tobi, thus ending his storyline.
Yamato’s abilities and skills
Yamato’s abilities are somewhat boring. Although he can create various shapes with his wood element control, he doesn’t have numerous powers like some other protagonists.
As mentioned, Tenzo inherited the ability to control wood when he was infused with First Hokage’s DNA. This power is not actually a wood element per se, but a combination of water and earth abilities. Yamato would gather water-based chakra in the palm of one hand and earth-based chakra in the other hand, and by combining the two flows, he can alter the structure of the surrounding environment.
Tenzo can utilize this power to change even his own molecular structure. Although a very powerful technique and often praised by other ninjas in the anime, Yamato’s wood element control pales compared to that of First Hokage.
Although Yamato inherited the power to control wood from First Hokage, he had to read scrolls to understand how to use it the best. During the show, the ninja frequently uses the power to apprehend villains but also to alter his body parts and use them as weapons.
During the show, Yamato used this power in numerous ways. For example, he created wooden prisons, shields, trees, etc. Wooden clones are an important part of his arsenal. He often used them for scouting but also as a diversion. Aside from fighting, he utilized the power for utility. This is best noticed during the reconstruction of Konoha. On a few occasions, he created wooden lodging for the team.
Although the show creators didn’t want to put too much emphasis on this, Tenzo can easily utilize water and earth elements. Most likely, he doesn’t use them that often because wood power is too superior.
Tailed Beast Suppression
While control of the wood element is a great power to have, Yamato is often featured as the person meant to suppress the Nine-tail beast within Naruto. Once again, Tenzo’s skill is a weak reflection of the First Hokage’s power. Nevertheless, he still managed to suppress the beast several times during the show.
The power can be utilized on just about anyone, not just Naruto. For example, he managed to subdue Kisame and Kabuto after their capture. Generally speaking, he is very proficient at controlling the Ying and Yang elements.
Various combat and survival skills
As a former member of Anbu, it is safe to say that Yamato can adapt to various situations and relentlessly pursue his targets. He can scout ahead with his clones, track targets, create intricate traps, and hide his chakra from enemies.
By utilizing wood elements, he can create shields and extend wooden appendages towards a target. This makes him a potent adversary in hand-to-hand combat. Aside from these powers, he can utilize fuinjutsu and kenjutsu. Given his connection to nature, it isn’t surprising that he can heal various wounds.
No real name
Tenzo is a person shrouded in mystery. Although he is most commonly referred to as Yamato and sometimes Tenzo, these aren’t his real names. In fact, every name used for the character is an alias. Even his childhood name, Kinoe, was an alias, which is why it is so hard to track his origins.
Making silly faces
One of the character’s trademarks is his silly faces. He uses them to instill terror in his underlings, but these faces only work for Naruto, while Sai and Sakura see them as ridiculous. It is hard to say whether he uses these faces to be funny or he is really trying to be intimidating. Regardless, we cannot deny that Yamato is a strong shinobi and definitely someone you should fear in battle.
Panache for architecture
For the most part, Tenzo is a very simple and straightforward character. His main motivation is to help the village of Konoha and become a reputable member of the community. The only thing that makes him stand out is his love for architecture. This can be seen even during camping and battle, where Yamato often relies on redundant structures to apprehend opponents.
Relationship with Kakashi
As mentioned in this guide, Kakashi and Yamato have worked closely together for quite a while. However, this wasn’t always the case. They first met during Yamato’s mission, where he was supposed to kill the Third Hokage. Kakashi averted his attempt.
During their second encounter, Yamato was supposed to steal Kakashi’s Sharingan. Once again, Kakashi managed to stave off the threat and would spare Yamato afterward. This sequence of events, as well as Kakashi’s unwillingness to kill fellow Hidden Leaf ninja, caused a major change in Yamato. He realized that he shouldn’t attack the villagers but instead do his best to protect them.
In the end, Yamato would cut his ties with Danzo with assistance from Kakashi and the Third Hokage, his previous targets.
Despite some flaws, his sealing technique and wood creation are extremely powerful. In fact, all of his stats are pretty high. However, during the show, Yamato is portrayed as a somewhat lackluster character and would eventually be surpassed by Naruto.
Most likely, the show creators didn’t want to assign an overpowered character to Naruto, but they still wanted to present Tenzo as a formidable mentor and great support to Team 7 during Naruto’s development.
Question: Why is Yamato called Tenzo?
Answer: As previously mentioned, Yamato initially worked for Danzo under the codename Kinoe. Later on, he would switch sides and join Kakashi in a new Anbu Team Ro. Here, he was led by Kakashi, his former enemy, who now became his closest ally. It was Kakashi who suggested a new alias for Kinoe. From this point onward, he was referred to as Tenzo and would later on gain the alias Yamato.
Question: Who was Yamato’s teacher?
Answer: Yamato had a few teachers throughout his life. We don’t know who his first teacher was, though. After Orochimaru’s experiments, he was taken by Danzo, who helped the child combine water and earth elements to create wood element. Yamato also learned stuff by himself by reading the First Hokage’s scrolls with information about these elements and potential techniques he could use them for.
Question: Can Kakashi beat Yamato?
Answer: When Yamato was really young, he was a part of Anbu under Danzo’s tutelage. On two different occasions, he clashed with Kakashi. In both of these cases, he would lose, although Kakashi didn’t want to finish him off. As time went by, Yamato grew into a powerful ninja. While Kakashi can likely beat adult Yamato, it is very likely that the opposite can be said for Tenzo.
Yamato Naruto Guide: Conclusion
Yamato is the only known ninja who can utilize the wood technique. He does so by combining water and earth elements from his hands. Aside from this power, he can also perform sealing, which is why he is paired with Naruto for the majority of the show.
Yamato is a fearsome warrior but, at the same time, very calculated. He rarely shows emotions, and you can even say that he is a somewhat bland character.