With Naruto as the title character of the franchise, his squad, known as Team 7, tends to be the most popular and get the most storylines. It’s only fitting. However, there are several other teams in his generation who are put through their paces as the Fourth Shinobi World War looms on the horizon. One of those is Team 10.
Also known as Team Asuma, it is made up of Ino Yamanaka, Shikamara Nara, and Choji Akimichi. Their group is also called Ino-Shika-Cho in reference to their family using variations of those names in every generation. While Team 7 might have the biggest spotlight, Team 10 frequently assisted Naruto in missions, and even got a few major story arcs of their own. Fans of the anime especially will have learned more details about the character as filler episodes of the anime fleshed out story details for them.
Ino was once Sakura’s best friend, while Shikamaru and Choji were some of the only villagers to not ridicule Naruto as a child. One of their most memorable arcs featured the group out to avenge their sensei, and that’s where fans would have learned the most about them.
The Yamanaka, Nara, and Akimichi clans had a long standing connection to one another that went back nearly to the founding of Konohagakure. That connection extends into the Naruto spinoff series Boruto: Naruto Next Generations as well.
We’ve combed the anime and manga to find every detail you would want to know. Here are the 30 Things Only True Fans Know About Ino-Shika-Cho.
30 Ino-Shika-Cho’s Animal Connection
Like many names in the Naruto universe, Ino, Shika, and Cho all have very specific meanings. The prefixes for the names preferred by the Yamanaka, Nara, and Akimichi clans all translate to types of animals. Creator Masashi Kishimoto knew exactly what he was doing with them.
“Ino” references pigs. It’s part of the reason Sakura calls her friend “Ino-pig” when she’s angry with her.
“Shika” literally translates to male deer. So far in the Naruto universe, all of the members of the Nara clan who have names like Shikamaru, Shikaku, and Shikadai are male. Their clan also happens to care for deers. “Cho” means butterfly. One of the Akimichi clan’s most draining jutsu involves butterfly wings.
29 Every Generation Has An Ino-Shika-Cho
Though the Ninja Academy groups aspiring shinobi together based on their school scores, the Ino-Shika-Cho group is always the same. It’s tradition for the children of the three clans to become a team. Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji make up the sixteenth generation of the team formation. Their children go on to become a team as well.
Before fans wonder if this means the teams are unbalanced, they’re not. The Ninja Academy grouped teams according to class rankings (one high, one low, one middle). With Shikamaru being a genius, he should have been at the top, but he slacked off, making him rank lower. Ino was actually at the top of the class with Sakura and Sasuke.
28 There Are Five Formations
Formation Ino-Shika-Cho isn’t just the name of the team, and it doesn’t just come from the names of the individuals involved. It’s also a reference to their battle plan. Despite 16 generations of learning the ins and outs of their abilities, their “formation” only has five variations.
Each variation begins with the “Ino” of the trio using Mind Body Disturbance, Mind Body Switch, or Mind Clone Switch on their enemy. Next, the “Shika” member uses a variation of his shadow jutsu. Finally, the “Cho” member changes size or uses their butterfly technique to finish the job. Though the formation is the same, the skills used change as the individuals gain more control over more difficult jutsu.
27 Medicine Links The Clans
In Naruto’s generation, the group is linked to one another beyond simply being teamed up. Medicine is what they all have in common.
Ino decides not to simply rely on her inherited jutsu. Wanting to be more useful, she studies medical ninjutsu, placing her in a position to help heal her teammates in the field.
Shikamaru’s family maintains all of the medical records and supplies for the village. He’s the go-between for his clan and Lady Tsunade when she needs records of experiments. Choji begins using his family’s special food pills to give him an edge in desperate fights. The recipe for the performance enhancers came from the Nara family’s research.
26 The Nara Clan Saves The Akimichi Clan
The Nara clan doesn’t just create the food pills for the Akimichi clan. They also save the clan members’ lives after using them. As seen when Choji first uses food pills on the Sasuke Recovery Mission, they are dangerous. There are three levels of performance enhancement that specifically target the Akimichi clan’s strengths. Each pill is harder on the body than the last. If Choji wasn’t careful, the pills could have cost him his life.
Luckily, the Akimichi clan is close with the Nara clan, and the Nara clan has the main ingredient for an antidote. The antlers shed by the deer in the Nara forest are used to heal the Akimichi clan members.
25 Ino Likes Purple For A Reason
Fans noticed that most Naruto characters have one or two outfits they prefer. Ino’s clothing, no matter how it changes throughout the franchise, has one thing stay the same: it’s purple. Ino’s love for the color might be intentional. Her family owns a flower shop, and their clan symbol happens to be a specific plant. It’s the bushclover, but specifically, Thunberg’s bushclover.
Named for a Swedish botanist, the plant produces purple blooms in Fall. (Ino’s birthday happens to land just after the start of Fall as well - on September 23.) While known for its beauty, the bushclover can become an invasive species, taking over the space of other plants. It sounds just like Ino.
24 Choji Eats To Live
There’s an old saying that people should eat to live, not live to eat. At first glance, it might seem like Choji and the rest of the Akimichis simply have a love for food, but that’s not entirely true. Choji has a fondness for Korean barbecue and potato chips. He’s almost never seen without a bag of chips in hand. He’s not just indulging in his favorite junk food, however.
Choji’s family has an inherited jutsu called Butterfly Mode. When using it, calories convert to chakra and the user ends up with butterfly wings.
They’re more powerful in this mode, but the weight loss from the calorie conversion can be dangerous.
23 The Akimichi Clan Honor Their Food
Members of the Akimichi clan are keenly aware of how their family-specific jutsu affects their everyday life. Choji, for example, is very sensitive about others talking about his weight. Despite that sensitivity, Choji also knows that he can’t exactly start dieting and deprive his body of the calories it might need during an intense fight. He could put his life in even more danger if he doesn’t control his calories correctly.
To be reminded of their relationship with food, and just how much good it does for them, members of the Akimichi clan honor it with a symbol. Members have the kanji for food, “shoku” emblazoned on their clothing.
22 The Clans Share A Monument
Konohagakure likes a good historical site. The Hokages have their faces carved into a mountain. There are temples sprinkled around the countryside. The village has a deep sense of honor and tradition, even if fans don’t always see it. One of the sites not often shown is a memorial commemorating the Ino-Shika-Cho team up.
That’s right, the Yamanaka, Nara, and Akimichi clans have a memorial reminding their members of their connection. The monument has the symbols of all three clans carved into it. It reminds them all that they promised to protect one another and their village, a fact Choza reminds his son Choji of in both the manga and the anime.
21 Shikamaru Doesn’t Have To See His Shadow To Use It
Though all graduates from the Ninja Academy receive training in a variety of jutsu, Ino-Shika-Cho rely heavily on their inherited jutsu. Shikamaru’s inherited jutsu involves manipulating his shadow. When fans first meet Shikamaru, his ability is limited to catching someone else’s shadow with his own and making his opponent mirror him.
Usually, Shikamaru would face his opponent head on, performing hand signs, so he could see what he was doing. Over time, his skill and strength grew, and that wasn’t needed.
Because he’s a sensory type shinobi, Shikamaru can feel the connection his shadow makes to an opponent. He doesn’t have to see what his shadow is doing to control it.
20 Ino-Shika-Cho Is A Pop Culture Reference
Formation Ino-Shika-Cho is very specific in Naruto. With the names of the characters informing their clan symbols and associations, it’s clear that Masashi Kishimoto had a detailed vision for them. He might have been inspired by different pop culture instances. Ino-Shika-Cho is a hand in a card game called Koi-Koi from Japan. The combination of the three cards is worth five points. That specific hand of cards is very popular and inspired a few other uses.
Dragon Ball features a creature called InoShikaCho which is part boar, deer, and butterfly. Kishimoto was a big Dragonball fan, so he could have found inspiration in either place. Many manga and anime since named trios of characters in a similar fashion.
19 The Nara Clan’s Deer Connection
If you’re at all familiar with the history of Japan, Shikamaru’s family clan having the name “Nara” is a clue to their place in society. The Nara family compound is backed by a forest full of deer. That forest is protected. Only members of the Nara clan can enter or exit unless given permission. Likewise, the deer inside only trust members of the clan.
Nara was once the capital of Japan in the eighth century, and it was known for its deer. The other clan names provide details as well. Yamanaka means “in the mountains,” which is where boars roam in Japan, and Akimichi means “autumn road” in reference to where food stalls are set up following a harvest.
18 The 15th Generation Delivered A Treaty
Fans spend the bulk of their time with the sixteenth generation of Ino-Shika-Cho, but we do get to see the previous generation in action a few times. Inoichi, Shikaku, and Choza are the fathers of Naruto’s peers. They are the ones responsible for training their children in their inherited jutsu.
The trio of fathers also happen to be responsible for bringing peace to the village in an earlier generation.
During the Third Shinobi World War, the team was chosen to deliver a peace treaty to Iwagakure, also known as The Village Hidden By The Rocks. It was Sunagakure, the Village Hidden In The Sand, that helped the trio get their treaty to the Kage.
17 The Group Is A Boys Club
Fans know the team is traditionally made of one member of the younger generation from each of the three clans. What fans don’t know, however, is who was on the team beyond the generations seen in Naruto, and now, in Boruto. Fans can, however, infer, that the team is traditionally a male group.
When the anime audience is first introduced to Inoichi, Shikaku, and Choza, the trio is reminiscing in a restaurant and chatting about their kids. Choza and Shikaku give Inoichi a hard time. Why? Because he doesn’t have a son. Is Ino the first woman in sixteen generations to be part of the Ino-Shika-Cho trio? It seems unlikely, but it’s possible.
16 Ino’s Father Believed In Her Strength
He might have been teased about his daughter being part of the legendary trio, but Inoichi had a lot of faith in his little girl. Yamanakas aren’t known for close combat or physical strength. They are more like a long distance secret weapon. Their family jutsu involves getting into someone else’s head by switching minds or probing thoughts.
However, that wasn’t enough for Ino. Like many females in the franchise, Ino was underused in combat, and decided to do something about it, training to become a medical ninja. It was the chakra control required of medical-nins, combined with her mental abilities, that prompted Inoichi to comment that he believed Ino would be the strongest Yamanaka yet.
15 Shikamaru Buried His Biggest Problem
When the Akatsuki threatened the Land of Fire, Shikamaru and his former sensei Asuma were part of a team searching for the villains. Asuma lost his life during a confrontation with Hidan, and Shikamaru suffered the consequences.
Shikamaru blamed himself for not coming up with a successful strategy quick enough.
He also took it upon himself to seek revenge for Asuma. His team set out against members of the Akatsuki, but Shikamaru took on Hidan alone. Hidan, effectively immortal as a result of his jutsu, couldn’t simply be defeated. Shikamaru buried him in the middle of the Nara Forest to make sure no one could help him and he could never escape.
14 The Noble Clans Of Konoha
Steeped in tradition, Konohagakure has some clans that outrank others. Referred to as “Noble Clans,” four families are considered more powerful and have more social standing than the others. The Aburame clan, the Hyuga clan, the Uchiha clan, and the Akimichi clan make up the four Noble Clans. Each one has specific inherited jutsu that no one else has.
The Akimichi is the only clan to contribute team members to Ino-Shika-Cho to be considered one of the Noble Clans. It’s not made clear in the Naruto works just why the Nara or the Yamanaka aren’t considered powerful enough to be one.
13 The Black Spider Lily Is A Rare Nara Clan Technique
Through their manipulation of shadows, the Nara clan has many secret techniques at their disposal. One of those, and one we only see used once, is the Black Spider Lily. It’s a derivation of the Shadow Sewing Technique. That particular Nara jutsu allows the user to create several sharp needles out of their shadow. Those needles can be used to control multiple enemies.
Shikaku Nara is the only one who uses his Shadow Sewing Technique to then employ the Black Spider Lily. He uses the needles of shadow to draw his enemies in close, like moths in a spider’s web, so that they can be controlled by his teammate Inoichi.
12 The Akimichi Clan Takes A Separate Oath
Perhaps it’s a result of their status in Konoha, or perhaps it’s part of a larger tradition. Either way, the Akimichi clan has their own oath to make regarding the other members of the Ino-Shika-Cho trio.
When the Akimichi clan gets a new head, the new leader has to swear an oath of protection.
He isn’t simply swearing to protect his land or his village though. Instead, he has to protect his allies. The head of the Akimichi clan formally swears his allegiance and protection to the Yamanaka and Nara clans. The oath acts as a continual reminder of the bonds between the families.
11 The Sarutobi Clan Provides A Sensei
When any three person team is formed following graduation from the Ninja Academy, they gain a sensei. The sensei is typically a jonin level shinobi who has already seen their share of combat. In the case of Ino-Shika-Cho, their team leader always comes from the same family.
Tradition dictates that the Sarutobi clan provides the sensei for the team. Team 10 is led by Asuma Sarutobi, and the group even unites again after all of its members become chunin level shinobi. The newest generation in Boruto appears to break the tradition. Inojin, Shikadai, and Chouchou are led by Moegi.
10 They Have An Earring Ceremony
With the trio teaming up being a tradition, many other customs have been passed down to commemorate it. One of those customs also symbolizes the group becoming adults. Once the three team members make the move from genin (Ninja Academy graduates) to chunin (officially shinobi and no longer considered in training), they are gifted with pairs of earrings by their sensei. These earrings, along with their oath of loyalty, symbolize them becoming adults.
The earrings they receive from their sensei replace the ones they’ve worn through their entire training. Those earrings belong to their parents, and are returned to them as another symbol of them no longer being children.
9 Choji’s Sensitivity Makes Him Powerful
Unlike his teammates, Choji has nearly super strength up his sleeves. His ability to change the size of his body parts and convert his chakra allows him to increase his strength levels. There’s something else that makes him even more powerful, however: his feelings.
Choji is incredibly sensitive to how other people see him.
Keenly aware that he’s heavier than the average shinobi, when someone teases him about his weight, he allows his anger to get the better of him. That loss of control actually makes him stronger, and more likely to take an opponent head on.
8 Team 10 Loves Their Barbecue
One of the hallmarks of Naruto is the title character’s love for ramen. Not everyone in the franchise frequents Ichiraku Ramen. Instead, Team 10 has a particular fondness for barbecue. Their restaurant of choice was Yakiniku Q. It’s name gives you an idea as to what you can find at the restaurant. It quite literally means the restaurant serves grilled meat.
Choji, in particular, enjoyed getting to cook and eat his own food in the middle of their table. He and Ino frequently fought over the last of the food. Asuma took his team to Yakiniku Q for successfully completed missions and reaching important milestones, like graduation.
7 Shikamaru Is The Smartest In Konohagakure
There’s no question that Shikamaru is highly intelligent, vur just how intelligent is he? Smarter than anyone else knows. As a child, Shikamaru barely passed his classes at the Ninja Academy because he wasn’t interested in putting in an effort. Asuma Sarutobi saw through his laziness and disinterest. In order to gauge how intelligent Shikamaru really was, he gave him a rulebook for the game of shogi to learn, and then routinely challenged him to games.
According to Asuma, Shikamaru’s IQ measured at 200. To put that in perspective, most psychologists believe Albert Einstein’s IQ was about 160. His intelligence is what makes Lady Tsunade trust him to create battle strategies when he’s still a teenager.
6 Team 10 Uses Yin And Yang Release
A lot of time is devoted to Naruto understanding elemental chakra types during his training. There are, however more than the Wind, Water, Earth, Fire, and Lightning Release types of chakra. Team Ino-Shika-Cho uses primarily Yin and Yang Release.
These two chakra types are two sides of the same coin, hence their name. They both rely on manipulating themselves instead of the world around them with their chakra.
Yin Release is based in spiritual energy, while Yang Release is based in physical energy. Choji’s family favors Yang Release with their size changes and strength increase. Meanwhile, Shikamaru and Ino’s family favors Yin Release with their sensory perception using shadows and mental abilities.
5 They Achieved Perfect Teamwork After Losing Asuma
Of all the teams we saw in action during the run of Naruto, Team 10’s teamwork was unparalleled. Most of the other teams would allow themselves to get distracted by petty squabbles, especially Team 7. Even while arguing with Ino in the middle of battle, Choji and Shikamaru could still stay in formation.
Their sensei always believed there was room for improvement in their battle formations. It wasn’t until Asuma was reanimated and set against his students during the Fourth Shinobi World War that he was able to see how far they’d come. He deemed their formation “perfect.”
4 Shikamaru Gets The Most Attention
Choji might be from a Noble Clan, and Ino might be the one who craves being the center of attention, but neither of them get the most screen time. Instead, it’s Shikamaru who appears most often across the franchise. In addition to his arc in the manga surrounding the loss of his sensei, his role, and his relationships with the other members of his class, were expanded for the anime.
Outside of the canon manga and the two anime series, Shikamaru also plays a main role in the Boruto series. He appears in five of the light novels for the franchise and seven of the movies. He’s almost snagged as much storytime as title character Naruto.
3 Yamanakas Are Skilled Interrogators
Thanks to their distinct set of mental skills, members of the Yamanaka clan can be more than just florists. They have an affinity for plants, and Ino’s family even owns a flower shop, but her father didn’t spend a whole lot of time running it during war time. Instead, Inoichi was the head of intelligence for the Hokage.
When prisoners refused to cooperate with standard interrogation techniques, Inoichi Yamanaka, or one of his brethren, was brought into help.
Once their abilities are strengthened, a Yamanaka can do more than just temporarily send their mind into an enemy in battle. They can actually reach into someone’s mind and get their memories via a method of telepathy.
2 The 16th Generation All Married Outsiders
Some fans might have believed that some combination of Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji would develop a romantic relationship. That never happened, and Ino was actually insulted when her father suspected her of dating one of her teammates. Instead, all three ended up married and starting families with those the rest of Konoha might have considered outsiders.
Shikamaru showed an interest in Temari of Suna from the first time they met - facing off in the chunin exams. Likewise, Ino was intrigued by Sai, a member of Root, and someone with no emotional ties to the village until he became part of Naruto’s team. Choji married Karui of Komo, though fans never actually saw their first meeting.
1 They Make A Promise To Protect The King
The entire point of the hidden villages steeped in tradition in the Naruto universe is to protect the lands in which they live. The shinobi are the soldiers that protect the civilians. The members of Team 10 make another promise to Asuma.
During their sensei’s final story arc, he adamantly tried to make Shikamaru understand just who the “king” they should protect during the lifetime game of shogi was. Shikamaru didn’t understand until Asuma told him Kurenai was having his daughter. The team vowed to not only protect their village, but to make sure traditions were passed on to the next generation, protecting the “king,” by making sure the next generation could continue.
Did you learn something new about the Ino-Shika-Cho of the Naruto generation? What do you think we might learn about them in the Boruto generation? Let us know in the comments!