In Demon Slayer, the Hashira, or Pillar, is the highest-ranking official, next only to Kaguya Ubayashiki. Their presence in the anime sustains the hope of the demon slayer organization. Because of their extraordinary swordsmanship, they have the knack for defeating upper-rank demons that normal slayers cannot.
It is said that the kanji for Hashira has nine strokes, which technically translates to the nine Hashira at the start of Demon Slayer. Aside from that, all Hashira have "Destroyer of Demons" engraved on their weapons.
On the contrary, it is said that a Hashira can retire whenever they want to. Having said that, the former set of Hashira still has a lot to do with the children and relatives of the current pillars. Whether they are retired or deceased, their skills and abilities are still on par with the present Hashira in the series. Hence, in this article, we have covered the details about them. Who are the former Hashira?
A disclaimer: This article will not include recently retired or deceased Hashira like Rengoku Kyojiro and Tengen Uzui.
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Sakonji Urokodaki is the highest-ranking former Water Pillar who became Tanjiro and Giyuu’s teacher prior to the Final Selection. He has also taught at least 15 demon slayers, including Sabito and Makomo, who met a tragic end at the hands of the Hand Demon in the Final Selection of slayers.
In the anime, Sakonji is always seen sporting a red Tengu mask. It is said that he wears masks because demons mock his gentle face. According to Giyuu, he has a good sense of smell, which allows him to distinguish the personalities of other people.
At the exact moment he met Tanjiro, he knew well enough that he was a kind-hearted boy. As a result, Sakonji tried everything to make Tanjiro give up and lose hope, not because he doesn’t believe in him, but because he doesn’t want any of his disciples to die anymore.
Despite the harsh words and treatment of Sakonji towards the Kamado siblings, Tanjiro and Nezuko still adore Sakonji as their own grandfather. Underneath his grouchy persona, Sakonji’s true feelings lie in his thoughtfulness towards others.
In real life, Sakonji resembles the swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Like Sakonji, Musashi lived out his life in the remote mountains. Aside from that, he also has a long line of disciples who met unfortunate and untimely deaths.
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Kanae Kocho is the former flower pillar. She is also the older sister of the current Insect Pillar, Shinobu Kocho, and the step-sister of the adopted Kanao. Kanae taught Kanao her breathing technique as well as her belief in her fate determined by the copper coins. This is evidently seen in the anime as Kanao relies on her copper coin to decide what to do with her life.
She is characterized and portrayed in the anime as one of the most beautiful pillars, having gorgeous long hair adorned with butterfly ornaments. Moreover, she always has a gentle expression on her face that radiates a nurturing presence and a genuine atmosphere towards other people.
Like Tanjiro, she believes in the idea that demons are kind of similar to humans and that she can befriend them as well. Aside from that, she doesn’t feel any resentment towards them, even if the demons killed her parents. Instead, she pities them like Tanjiro.
She died at the age of 17 after fighting with Doma, one of the 12 demon moons. Even if she died, her will continues to live inside Shinobu and Kanao, who became key people in Tanjiro’s journey.
Shinjuro Rengoku is the former flame pillar and also the father of Kyojiro and Senjuro. He is the head of the Rengoku family, which has produced a long line of exceptional demon slayers for generations who also served as flame pillars.
Prior to Kyojiro’s post, Shinjuro was one of the strongest pillars in the organization. He has killed numerous demons that oppressed humanity. He even went all the way to Hachijoma Island to exterminate the demons. Further, he is also enthusiastic about teaching his ways, especially to his sons.
However, all of these changed after his beloved wife’s passing. At the same time, he read the book about the Breath of Sun. As a result, Shinjuro got overwhelmed by the confines of his techniques. It is said that he started to have an inferiority complex with his own breath of flame from the breath of the sun, which affected his view on life.
From this point on, he lost his enthusiasm as a Hashira and completely retired from his post. At the same time, his attitude also changed, including his way of life.
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Jigoro Kuwajima is the former Thunder Hashira, popularly known as the Roaring Hashira. He has taught his breathing style and techniques to both Zenitsu and his brother, Kaigaku. The old man retired from his post at the age of 35 after he lost his right leg in battle. For Zenitsu, his relationship with Jigoro is more like that of a grandfather and grandson than a teacher and pupil.
In the series, Jigoro appears to be a grouchy and stern old man with a wound under his left eye. He first met the helpless Zenitsu in the middle of the street and took him in as his pupil. Together with Kaigaku, Zenitsu trains every day in order to use the breathing style of Jigoro even if they don’t get along well.
Notably, there are forms that only Kaigaku can use, and there are also forms that only Zenitsu can use. Because of this, Kaigaku went on another path and became a demon. Upon learning of the fate of his pupil, Jigoro assumed the responsibility and committed seppuku, which ended his life.
In order to carry out his will, Zenitsu started hunting demons not only to settle the score with his brother Jigoro but also to avenge Jigoro. Truly, Zenitsu is Jigoro's pride and joy.
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