Hotarubi (蛍火, Hotarubi) is a member of the Iga Tsubagakure clan and one of the ten ninja picked by Ogen to participate in the battle against the Kouga. She is engaged/bride to-be to fellow Iga ninja Yashamaru.


Hotarubi Assassin

Hotarubi's Second Outfit

A petite and slender young woman with straight dark hair that drapes to just below her shoulders; Hotarubi is reminiscent of the traditional Japanese beauty whereas Oboro is the large-eyed innocent, Okoi the sassy tomboy, and Akeginu and Kagerou (and even Ogen during her youth) representing the concept of the sensual femme-fatale. Hotarubi ties a small part of hair on her right side into a ponytail and wears a long, purple kimono tied with a dark pink sash. Her eyes are a deep purple color.

Later Hotarubi changes her outfit and ties all her hair back into a ponytail with a red ribbon. She now wears a purple kosode and purple hakama, which she tucks into her pink tabi socks. She also wears pink armbands and a pink sash around her waist, into which she slips her tantō.


Although she shares her clan's hatred for the Kouga, Hotarubi's prime concern is for her lover Yashamaru, another member of the Iga ten.  Her devotion to him is so great that even the suggestion that he's come to harm is enough to send her into reactions that range from a mere evil stare (like when Mino Nenki makes a bad joke about it) to a feral rage (when Shougen refuses to tell her if Yashamaru is alive or not, and she brutally stabs him to death). Like most of the Iga, Hotarubi considers Oboro to be a completely useless leader and defers to Tenzen's orders. In the anime, this may be tied to slight jealousy, since Yashamaru once teased her for not being sweet and feminine like Oboro and a comically offended Hotarubi threw a childish tantrum at him.

Like most of the Iga, Hotarubi considers Oboro to be completely useless despite her position as the clan's next leader, and defers to Yakushiji Tenzen's orders. In the anime, this may be tied to slight jealousy, since Yashamaru once teased her for not being sweet and feminine like Oboro and Hotarubi almost threw a childish tantrum at him.


In combat, Hotarubi summons swarms of glowing pink butterflies that overwhelm and distract her opponents, allowing her to either strike a lethal blow through their dropped defenses with her tantō or escape to safety. She also maintains a spiritual link with her pet viper who acts as her bodyguard and scout. In the anime, Hotarubi summons and controls her butterflies through a barely audible chant that varies depending on the situation.


Before the WarEdit

Hotarubi is seen with Yashamaru in an anime only flashback. The pair are standing alone on a secluded mountain and when Hotarubi reminds him that he should be off performing patrol duties he replies he would much rather spend the time with her. She smiles and the two go to kiss however, oblivious to Hotarubi, Yashamaru sees her pet Viper watching him from the grass. Feeling uncomfortable he turns away and tells her that it wasn't a good day for it, heading back to his duties. Confused, Hotarubi chases after him.

In another flashback he is seen with the rest of the Iga clan huddled in a group talking. They hear a noise from the room next door so they slide it open slightly and peer inside. The group catches sight of Ogen fixing her make-up and is so shocked they fall forward into Ogen's room, breaking the doors in the process.

Battle with ShougenEdit

Iga Find Scroll

The Iga Ninjas read the Scroll

Hotarubi is first seen accompanied by Akeginu, Nenki and Jingorou when they appear to escort Oboro back to Iga after her day out with Gennosuke. The group is interrupted by the arrival of Jousuke Udono, followed closely by Rousai. Rousai informs the Iga that the scroll Jousuke is carrying belongs to them and tells them to take it. Gennosuke interrupts and tells Jousuke to give it back before a fight breaks out. Jousuke hands over the scroll and the Iga, minus Oboro, huddle round to read it in private. The group are shocked to learn Hattori Hanzo's peace treaty had been broken, but begin to laugh amongst each other after the shock wears off, having decided to trap Gennosuke and Jousuke in Iga. When Oboro asks what the scroll says Jingorou lies and says the peace treaty is still strong. Nenki suggests Oboro should take Gennosuke to Iga to which she agrees. Jousuke refuses at first but Akeginu manages to convince him and the group sets out for Iga. The remaining ninjas then head out to find Tenzen.

When Tenzen reads the scroll he is quick to realises Shougen Kazamachi will be carrying a similar scroll back to Kouga. Concerned Hotarubi asks Tenzen about Yashamaru and he tells her that he should return to Iga by that night or the next day at the latest, though Hotarubi still looks worried. Tenzen sends Jingorou back to Iga before heading out after Shougen. Hotarubi follows along with Nenki, Rousai and Koshirou, trying to put her worries to the back of her mind. Soon after departing the group comes across a palanquin and Koshirou kills the carriers when Tenzen notices that it belongs to a Kouga ninja. The group surround the palanquin and remove the top, discovering Juubei Jimushi inside. The group are stunned by his appearance and Hotarubi gulps anxiously, but Tenzen decides he will kill Jimushi alone and sends the other Iga on ahead.

Hotarubi Butterfly

Hotarubi Summons her Butterfies

Later that night the group finds Shougen and leap down on him from the trees, completely surrounding him. Surprised, Shougen jumps on to a tree, confused about how the Iga had learned about the war so quickly. The Iga rush to attack him but he begins spraying out long streams of sticky saliva. Hotarubi manages to avoid it all, despite falling in the process, but is shocked to find the other three trapped within a web when she looks up. As Shougen begins to threaten Rousai, Hotarubi summons her butterflies which then swarm around Shougen. With Shougen distracted she throws Koshirou's dropped sickle to Nenki who uses his hair to stab it into Shougen's forehead. As he falls Shougen throws the scroll into the bushes where Jimushi catches it and speeds away, with the other three ninjas giving chase. Left alone with Shougen Hotarubi pulls a knife to his throat and demands to know if Yashamaru is safe. Shougen doesn't answer and instead spits on Hotarubi's face, which sends her into a rage. She stabs him over and over again while screaming at him to answer her question, blood splashing onto her cheek.

Having calmed down Hotarubi catches up with the other three, who have been joined by Tenzen. As Hotarubi approaches the group Tenzen, standing next to Jimushi's body, asks what happened with Shougen to which Hotarubi replies 'I have disposed of him.' The group then burn the Kouga's scroll, believing there to be no need in having an identical scroll, before deciding to anbush the Kouga in Manjidani.

Attack on the KougaEdit

Hotarubi Snake

Hotarubi fights the Kouga Ninjas

The next day the group arrives at Kouga Manjidani, looking down at the village from the surrounding mountains. Hotarubi notices how quiet it is and voices her fears but Tenzen tells her not to worry, as they have the excuse of being messengers for Gennosuke. They head into the village and discuss the possibility of being able to kill the remaining ninja on the scroll. Suddenly Koshirou senses a presence and Rousai is dragged to the wall. The group look on, puzzled, as Rousai tries to free himself from the wall. When he does he says the wall spoke and told him that the walls have ears. Suddenly the realise that they are surrounded by hundreds of ninja, so Tenzen tries to explain they are messengers for Gennosuke. The voice from the wall the calls him a liar, explaining that they had come from the North and that what they had said to each other earlier was suspicious. Tenzen realises he has been caught out and tells the others to attack. In the manga Hotarubi summons a swarm of butterfies to attack upon Tenzen's request while in the anime she uses her speed and grace, which enabled her to quickly kill several enemy ninja while her snake fatally bit any who managed to counter her attack.

Hyouma then appears with Kagerou, Saemon and Gyoubu, who had emerged from the wall. Hyouma describes the scene as madness and demands to know why the Iga attacked. Tenzen shows him a shuriken embedded in his sword and says that they had only acted in self-defense. He then trhows the shuriken at Hyouma, but is blocked by Kagerou. Tenzen warns them not to try and get revenge as they will kill Gennosuke if that happens. Hotarubi then summons a large swarm of butterflies, into which the five ninjas disappear.

Return to IgaEdit

Hotarubi Search

Hotarubi Waits for Yashamaru

The group then begin to make their way back to Iga but suddenly Tenzen stops, ordering the others to hide. The group hides in the bushes and watches as a girl appears and stops at the river. Hotarubi identifies her as Okoi and the group decide to take her to Iga with them. The group surrounds her and Tenzen tells her that they had just came from Kouga and that they had been attacked there while trying to deliver the message that Gennosuke was at Iga. He tries to convince Okoi to go with him and see Gennosuke but she refuses and leaps into the trees, saying that she wants to find out what really happened in Kouga. Nenki gives chase and manages to knock her unconscious as Hotarubi watches from a tree branch. They then take the unconscious Okoi to Iga.

Hotarubi Hug

Hotarubi Hugs Yashamaru on his Return

When they return that night Tenzen, Koshirou, Nenki and Rousai go to meet Jingorou and Akeginu to discuss what has happened in the time since they parted. Hotarubi doesn't attend this meeting and instead stands on a clifftop in the rain, sending out her butterflies to look for Yashamaru. Soon enough, a single butterfly returns to her, and before touching it, Yashamaru appears. Yashamaru grasps her hand and pulls her forward, and the two gaze at each other as they hold hands. Just before Hotarubi leans into the embrace, Yashamaru vanishes, and Hotarubi falls to the muddy ground. Confused and concerned, Hotarubi holds herself brokenly in the rain.

Some time later she notices someone sneaking up on her and she attacks, throwing three kunais at the intruder. He avoids and as he does so Hotarubi realises its Yashamaru. She quickly runs over and hugs him, telling how glad she is he's safe. As she hugs him her viper attacks, biting Yashamaru on the finger. Reacting quickly she grabs the viper and throws it against a tree before sucking the poison out of his finger. He asks why she had attacked him and she explained it was the short hair that confused her, before angrily blaming it on Danjou or Shougen. She then laughs and tells him that Danjou is dead and that she had killed Shougen with her bare hands. She then tells him about the girl they captured and looks annoyed when he asks to see her, but he quickly explains that its just to ask her a few questions. Hotarubi agrees and leads him down to the salt shed where Okoi was being kept.

When Hotarubi arrives with Yashamaru they find Okoi dead with a naked Nenki sitting nearby. When Nenki hears that Hotarubi's snake had bitten Yashamaru he calls her scary, which seems to annoy Hotarubi. He then asks if it was because she had 'made herself a girl', which earned him an angry glare. Yashamaru then asks to speak with Oboro but Hotarubi tells him that she is speaking with Tenzen.
Hotarubi Scream

Hotarubi Realises that Saemon is Disguised as Yashamaru

She comforts Yashamaru while Nenki rants about Tenzen and then finds Rousai's body in the corner. She calls over Nenki and they both look at Rousai's body while Yashamru walks towards the door. They are then interrupted by the arrival of Oboro, who looks directly at Yashamaru when she enters the room. Suddenly Yashamaru doubles over in pain and Hotarubi runs to comfort him but screams when he looks up, seeing that it is really Saemon Kisaragi in disguise. Nenki goes to attack Saemon with his hair but Saemon knocks salt in his eye, causing him to fall back and become entangled with Hotarubi. When Hotarubi gets back up she demands to know the whereabouts of Saemon and chases after the recently-appeared Gyoubu with the others. When Gyoubu disappears the group quickly heads to Gennosuke's room but find him holding the scroll, surrounded by Saemon and Gyoubu. Hotarubi watches as Gennosuke uses his skill to force the ninjas who attack him to commit suicide and steps aside when he tries to leave. Koshirou then attempts to stop him but, due to Oboro using her eyes on him instead of Gennosuke, has his technique used upon himself.

After Gennosuke has left the Iga meet in a room to hear aout Koshirou. Akeginu enters and announces to them all that Koshirou will live but he will be permanently blinded. Tenzen then begins to shout at Oboro for her actions and when he says Yashamaru, along with Ogen and Rousai, is probably dead Hotarubi seems to struggle to hold back tears. Oboro then blinds herself with the "Seven Days of Darkness" medicine, much to the disgust of Hotarubi and the others. A messenger then arrives to drop of a box, which inside contains the scroll and a letter from Gennosuke. The letter says that Gennosuke and the others shall be travelling to Sunpu and that if the Iga have the guts they should rushh after them to have a fair fight. Tenzen then sends Hotarubi and Nenki after them to find their location and to report back immediately, warning them not to act rashly.

Assassination on GennosukeEdit

Nenki and Hotarubi, now wearing a different outfit, are seen running through the rain to catch up with Gennosuke and the others. The pair eventually reach the Tokaido Route and spot an inn, where they know the Kouga are staying. They climb up onto the roof of the building opposite and scout out Gennosuke's room, preparing for their plan. Hotarubi places a capsule of the "Seven Days of Darkness" medicine inside her viper and sends it into Gennosuke's room. The snake pounces on Gennosuke while he is talking with Kagerou, but he reacts quickly and manages to cut the viper's head off. However, as it dies it spits the medicine into Gennosuke's eyes, sealing them shut for seven days.

Back on the roof Nenki praises Hotarubi, glad the viper she controlled had done the job. However, he notices that Gyoubu Kasumi was missing from the inn and fears he has gone to ambush Oboro. He sends Hotarubi back to warn t
Hotarubi and her swarm of butterflies

Hotarubi summons her butterflies

hem and tells her he can handle it when she asks if he'll be OK. He asks Hotarubi to release a swarm of butterflies as she leaves, hoping to distract those protecting Gennosuke. Hotarubi agrees to the idea and runs off along the rooftops with a trail off butterflies following, luring both Saemon and Kagerou away from Gennosuke. However as she runs Saemon throws a kunai which stabs directly into her left thigh. As Saemon follows onto the roof Hotarubi sends an army of bugs into his face, distracting him while she turned back. However, she kept her butterflies going in the same direction, luring Saemon and Kagerou away from her.
Hotarubi injured

Hotarubi struggles to make it back to her clan

Despite using a strip of cloth torn from her ninja uniform as a makeshift bandage, the pain and blood loss from Hotarubi's wound severely weakens her as she attempts to make her way back to the other Iga; revenge for Yashamaru being the only thing keeping her going until she comes across a canyon with a broken bridge. As Hotarubi ponders how to cross, Nenki appears out of the dark and tells her that he has successfully killed all the Kouga except for Saemon. But when he reveals that Saemon was the one who killed Yashamaru, Hotarubi furiously admonishes him for his failure, but ultimately decides that it was preferable as fate has granted her the chance to seek revenge for her lover's death.

As Hotarubi swears she'll find and kill Saemon no matter what appearance he takes, she notices a bandage wrapped around Nenki's finger and remembers how she had sucked the poison from Saemon when her snake bit him during his infiltration of Tsubagakure disguised as Yashamaru. Hotarubi looks up and her face in shock and horror as Nenki slowly begins to turn into Saemon before lunging for her. Hotarubi leaps back to avoid his reach and spin kicks him away as she attempts to summon another butterfly swarm but fails as her hands suddenly come flying off her forearms; Saemon had seized her tantō during their scuffle and amputated her forearms with her own weapon before plunging the blade into her chest. Hotarubi leans against a rock and silently
Hotarubi's illusion of Yashamaru

Hotarubi's illusion of Yashamaru

curses Saemon for all he has done to her and Yashamaru. And then, suddenly, an image of her dead lover appears before her. Hotarubi reaches for Yashamaru's apparent ghost, pitifully calling his name again and again in the hope he will take her with him into the afterlife. As Saemon realizes she is hallucinating himself as Yashamaru, he silently nods and a relieved and smiling Hotarubi falls over the cliff and into the canyon
Two butterflies fluttering into the sky together

Two of Hotarubi's butterflies parting into the sky together

below. Upon the moment of her death, thousands of glowing pink butterflies rise out of the canyon before Saemon's eyes illuminate the night sky until only two are left; a male and female that dance and flutter around each other as they ascended into the clouds together. This is likely meant to symbolize the spirits of Yashamaru and Hotarubi together in death.


Hotarubi puts on a very serious and no-nonsense front when with other members of the Iga but is rather different when alone with Yashamaru, appearing to be quite innocent and slightly child-like with her jealous temper tantrums. Although she shares her clan's hatred for the Kouga, Hotarubi's prime concern is for her lover Yashamaru, another member of the Iga ten. Her devotion to him is so great that even the suggestion that he's come to harm is enough to send her into a feral rage. After learning of Yashamaru's murder, Hotarubi devotes herself to the war between Iga and Kouga completely, seeking the chance for revenge at any cost.


Spiritual Connection with Viper: Hotarubi maintains a strong spiritual link with her pet viper, reminiscent of Ogen and her relationship with her hawk. The viper is almost always by Hotarubi's side and acts as her bodyguard and scout, constantly watching over her. It often coils itself round Hotarubi's neck or hides in her sleeve and has the ability to see through Saemon's disguises. It is killed by Gennosuke when it is sent to seal his eyes closed.

Butterfly Summoning: Hotarubi is able to summon a large swarm of butterflies by making a specific hand seal and, in the anime, using a barely audible chant. The glowing pink butterflies overwhelm and distract her opponents, allowing her to either strike a lethal blow through their dropped defenses with her tantō or escape to safety.

Tantōjutsu: Hotarubi's main offensive weapon is her small tantō, which she keeps concealed within her kimono. She is able to wield it with deadly skill and precision, shown when she slices through many of the Kouga ninjas that ambush her and the others.



Hotarubi is engaged to Yashamaru and cares for him deeply, putting thoughts of his safety above all else. The two are very close and Hotarubi tends to act different when around him. When she thinks he may be in danger she snaps and is capable of resorting to extreme violence. Upon hearing of his death she completely devotes herself to getting revenge.


Hotarubi first meets Saemon when he disguises himself as Yashamaru and infiltrates Iga. Upon realising he had tricked her she developes a large hatred for him, which grows when she learns it was him who killed Yashamaru.


Like most of the Iga, Hotarubi considers Oboro to be completely useless despite her position as the clan's next leader, and defers to Tenzen Yakushiji's orders. In the anime, this may be tied to slight jealousy, since Yashamaru once teased her for not being sweet and feminine like Oboro and Hotarubi almost threw a childish tantrum at him.

Nenki MinoEdit

Though she respects Nenki Mino greatly, always referring to him as Nenki-dono (-dono a Japanese suffix indicating high regard), Hotarubi doesn't take his jokes with a good sense of humor. When he suggests that Yashamaru was fooling around with another woman, which temporaily shocks her, she threatens him with an unpleasant glare then even to the point she pulls out a knife and has it at the cleft of his chin.

Appearance in other MediaEdit

Hotarubi Movie

Erika Sawajiri as Hotarubi

Hotarubi appears in the 2005 film Shinobi: Heart Under Blade, which is based on the same source material as Basilisk. Played by Erika Sawajiri, Hotarubi appeared in the live action movie with some differences, such as not being romantically involved with Yashamaru and lacking her viper. While still able to summon her butterflies she did so via a yellow powder which she spread on her fingers and the butterflies themselves were changed to being orange in colour. As she played a role similar to the one Akeginu had in the original manga and anime, Hotarubi was overly protective of her leader Oboro whom she stated was the most precious thing to her, even going so far as sacrificing her own life by acting as a human shield when the Kouga Koshirou ambushed them.

Differences Between the Manga, Anime and Novel VersionsEdit

  • In the manga Hotarubi's butterfly swarms don't glow and appear to be comprised of several different species. She's also capable of summoning other types of insects as proved by the trail she left following her and Nenki's sneak attack at the inn where the remaining Kouga ten were staying.
  • Within the novel, Hotarubi's abilities far outshine those in the manga and anime as she is able to commune with any insects and reptiles surrounding her. Additionally, her snake rests on top of her head rather than coiling around her neck. Also, when Saemon infiltrates Tsubagakure, their small meeting never happens so the snake bite never occurred. Upon seeing Okoi near death in the salt shed, Saemon yawns and sits down for a bit, claiming that he was tired from his run from Sunpu while he comforts his sister in her final moments. When he is again disguised, this time as Nenki, Hotarubi is able to see through his disguise because, unlike Nenki, Saemon's arms weren't hairy.


  • (To Saemon, disguised as Yashamaru) "It really is you. I knew it....I knew you'd be alive...I never gave up came back to're alive."
  • (To Saemon, disguised as Yashamaru) "And as for Shougen, I think you'll be proud of me. I killed him myself; no mercy spared. I killed him...for you my love.
  • (To Saemon) "Who are you to give me orders, you disgusting, filthy Kouga?"
  • (Directed towards the Kouga) "I will never forgive them."
  • (Upon her death) "Let me go...go with you...Yashamaru-dono."


  • The kanji forming Hotarubi's name can translate to "light of a firefly" or simply "firefly light".
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