Wanouchi, Gifu

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Flag of Wanouchi
Official seal of Wanouchi
Motto: Shining Green Town
Location of Wanouchi in Gifu Prefecture
Location of Wanouchi in Gifu Prefecture
Wanouchi is located in Japan
Location of Wanouchi in Gifu Prefecture
Coordinates: 35°17′N 136°38′E / 35.283°N 136.633°E / 35.283; 136.633
Country Japan
Region Chūbu
Prefecture Gifu Prefecture
Prefecture Anpachi
 • Mayor Takayuki Kino (木野 隆之)
 • Total 22.4 km2 (8.6 sq mi)
Population (July 2011[1])
 • Total 9,976
 • Density 450/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Time zone JST
Flower Dandelion
(Taraxacum officinale)
Tree Japanese plum
(Prunus mume)
Bird Japanese skylark
(Alauda japonica)
Phone number (0584)69-3111
Address Yogō 2530-1, Wanouchi-chō, Anpachi-gun, Gifu-ken
Website Town of Wanouchi

Wanouchi (輪之内町, Wanouchi-chō) is a small town located in Anpachi District, Gifu Prefecture, Japan.

As of July 2011, the town has an estimated population of 9,976. The total area is 22.36 km2.


In 1954, the three villages Niki, Fukuzuka, and Oyabu were incorporated into one town, Wanouchi.

The kanji for Wanouchi (輪之内) literally translates to "within in a circle." This name is derived from the fact that Wanouchi is situated between the Ibi River and the Nagara River. Historically, these two rivers ran together and the area known as Wanouchi today was one of many ring-levees in the middle of the river. Naturally, these levees were prone to frequent flooding and so the waters had to be diverted. Hence, Wanouchi's physical environment and history has been greatly shaped by the constant threat of floods.

In 1754, the Edo (modern Tokyo) Shogunate, under Shogun Tokugawa Ieshige, ordered the rich and powerful Satsuma feudal lord, Shimazu Shigetoshi (whose great wealth was regarded as a threat to the Shogunate) to send his samurai and resources to the Gifu area. Their task was to build embankments in order to divert the rivers. It seems the Shogun hoped that this project would weaken the Satsuma lord's power. This becames known as the Hōreki Age River Improvement Incident.

The construction of these banks was extremely dangerous and difficult. It is said that a human sacrifice was made in the Wanouchi area during the construction when a local retainer voluntarily gave his life by remaining under the rushing waters in order to keep a foundation pillar from moving until it could be secured from above. As well as aiding in the construction, this sacrifice was also treated as an offering to the gods ensuring the successful completing of the project. In Japanese, this sacrifice is referred to as hitobashira (人柱) meaning "human pillar."

Ritual suicides have taken place in Wanouchi's history as well. The Satsuma samurai who came to Gifu from what is now Kagoshima Prefecture under the Shogun's orders, felt that they were betraying their own lord. This sense of disloyalty mixed with the frustration resulting from great difficulties with construction, which led the men to commit "seppuku" (self-disembowelment). It is interesting to note, that out of respect for the Shogun, the cause of death was simply recorded as "sword wounds". Therefore, it is unclear exactly how many people took their own lives.

Despite the many difficulties, the initial construction was completed in 1755. More than 80 lives were lost. The graves of 8 of these men are located around Wanouchi, serving as a constant reminder of the great sacrifices made so that people could live in a safer environment.

Due to the construction of many banks over the last 200 years, the waters surrounding Wanouchi have become two separate rivers, the Ibi River and Nagara River. The area located between the two rivers is referred to as the "Waju-tei" (輪中堤 or Waju levee). The name Wanouchi originates from this word and means "the town in Waju-tei".

In 1976, the Nagara River swelled and flooded Wanouchi's neighbouring towns, Anpachi, Gifu and Sunomata, Gifu. However, the people of Wanouchi were protected from the floods because of the strong embankments.

Every August, Satsuma Gishi, a Buddhist service, is held at one of the three temples where the graves of construction victims are located. The service honors these people and the Satsuma samurai.



Wanouchi's main areas of employment is in the manufacturing industry. However, many citizens also derive income from agricultural activities.



Kayu no Tsuke

For over 100 years, every January, a ritual has been performed to predict the coming year's rice harvest. In the dead of night, farmers gather at four shrines in Wanouchi to witness the ritual.

Rice is steamed together with hollow, slender stalks of bamboo about 20 cm. in length. When the rice is ready, a priest slices the bamboo lengthwise. The amount of rice that has been cooked inside the stalk is believed to indicate the abundance of the next year's harvest.

Locations: Hakusan Shrine (白山神社), Kamo Shrine (加茂神社), Hachiman Shrine (八幡神社), and Hakusan Hime Shrine (白山比売神社)

Date: January 15

The Hoei no Mai Performance

This event occurs twice a year in memory of the Satsuma samurai. For over 200 years in the spring and autumn young girls have performed special dances and songs at the Chisui Shrine.

Location: Chisui Shrine (治水神社)

Dates: April 5 and October 5

The Zosui Festival

It is said, that over 400 years ago, a god was carried by a great flood, or "zosui", to the Gotago area of Wanouchi. Thus, the Zosui Festival honours this god who is believed to protect Wanouchi from floods. Since "zosui" is also the name of a rice and vegetable porridge, people offer this porridge to the god. During the festival, the Shinmei Shrine is decorated with paper lanterns. Festivities include taiko drumming and the Shirakawa dance.

Location: Shinmei Shrine (神明神社)

Date: July 16

Noryo Hometown Festival

During Japan's stifling hot and humid summer, the Noryo Hometown Festival gives the people of Wanouchi the chance to enjoy Obon dancing in the cool of the evening. This festival occurs in the middle of August in conjunction with the nationwide festival, Obon. During Obon it is customary for people to return to their hometown, don yukatas and join in the local festivities.

Location: Town Office (役場)

Date: August 15

Sangyo Festival

The Sangyo Festival is a yearly celebration of Wanouchi's thriving industries. It is a chance for farmers and manufacturers to peddle their wares. "Takoyaki," yakisoba," baked yams, beer, and confections are available at food booths. Various entertainment events such as lotteries, karaoke competitions and firework displays create a carnival-like atmosphere. The grand finale of the 2 day fair is the Rice Cake Toss when hundreds of rice cakes are hurled into the crowd and everyone scrambles for them. The Sangyo festival is a great way to meet people from all walks of life in Wanouchi.

Location: Town Office (役場)

Date: First weekend in October

The Gomando Festival

This Shinto festival, honoring the water god "Gomando", dates back to 1624. In the early evening, residents of Mirushinden gather at the Myoko Temple to acknowledge the community's founder, Kazuya Sozaemon. They then proceed to Tado shrine, nestled in a small pine grove. There, the sake flows, enhancing the pounding of taiko drums as people wearing "happi" (festival) coats and brightly decorated umbrella hats perform the Shirakawa dance. Paper flowers on the dancers' hands add to the colourful spectacle.

Location: Tada Shrine (多度神社)

Date: October 3

Wanouchi Autumn Festival

On the evening of October 10, the rhythm of taiko drums echoes through Wanouchi. The Autumn Festival is a time for families to get together and enjoy a feast. Wanouchi's three traditional dances, the Dengarakashi dance, the Ondo dance and the Shirakawa dance can be seen at various Shinto shrines.

Location: Various Shrines in Wanouchi

Date: October 10

Local Dialect[edit]

The local dialect, called Wanouchi-ben, is a colourful mixture of Nagoya, Gifu and Kansai dialects.

Dialect Standard Japanese English
wakarahen / wakaran wakarimasen I don't understand.
shiran shirimasen I don't know.
orahen / gozarahen orimasen / gozaimasen (imasen) (Someone) is not here.
ō ki ni arigato thank you
yattokame hisashiburi Long time, no see.
ee tenki ya namo ii tenki desu ne Nice weather, isn't it?
akan dame bad / must not do
erai tsukaremashita / taihen / kurushii tired / difficult / painful
hayo hayo! hayaku hayaku! Hurry up!
anbayo jōzu ni skillfully
a'chibeta ko'chibeta achi kochi here and there
ketta mashin jitensha bicycle
nebuka negi green onion
jagatara jagaimo potato
kōrai kōn corn
jiimo satoimo taro

Sister town[edit]

Wanouchi has had a partnership with the town of Hinton, Alberta, Canada, since 1998. This partnership is primarily for educational and cultural exchange. Every year, students from Wanouchi Junior High School travel to Hinton to learn about Canadian life and culture while living with a host family. Every 2 years, students from Hinton's Harry Collinge Junior High School visit Wanouchi and live with local families.


  1. ^ 岐阜県の人口・世帯数人口動態統計調査結果. Gifu prefectural website (in Japanese). Gifu Prefecture. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Wanouchi, Gifu at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 35°17′N 136°38′E / 35.283°N 136.633°E / 35.283; 136.633