Horinouchi (堀之内)

Horinouchi is historical jargon that indicates a town developed in the vicinity of the residence (called "tachi" or "tate") of samurai (warriors) and landholders in the medieval Japan. It is also called "Doi." The words "Horinouchi" and "Doi" are derived from the fact that the town was usually enclosed with a moat and a fence made of piled up earth. There are places using the name of "Horinouchi" nationwide, which originates from the Horinouchi in medieval Japan.
(Refer to the place names described later and the article on the Horinouchi station.)


Samurai and landlord in the medieval Japan took charge of the territorial management and ruling by assuming various posts and powers such as Gunji shiki (local headships), Goshi shiki (sub district headships) and Hoshi shiki (executive officer of an Imperial demesne) granted by Kokuga (provincial government office), and Shokan shiki (officer entrusted with local management of the private estate) granted by the lord of a private estate (family head or guarantor of manor), as well as Jito shiki (manager and lord of a private estate) granted by the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). Some of them assumed several of these posts concurrently. As a base for managing and ruling the area, samurai and landlord established their own town in the vicinity of the roads or ports which worked as a linchpin of traffic, or on the elevated ground which provided them with an extensive view.

The town was enclosed with a moat and a fence made of piled up earth. The towns varied in scale from a few hectare to several dozen hectare. Retainers always watched outside at the gate of the town, some of which were equipped with a simple Yagura-mon Gate (turret-styled entrance). In the town, there was main housing in the buke-zukuri style (architecture representative of a samurai's residence), Umaya (pen for horses) and hut for low ranked people and retainers. In addition, Umaba (a horse-riding ground) and Yuba (training ground for Japanese archery) were sometimes established. Pictorial materials including "Ippen Shonin Eden" (Pictorial biography of the monk Ippen) and "Obusuma Saburo Ekotoba" (a picture scroll of the Kamakura period) well represent the atmosphere of the town "Horinouchi." These pictorial materials include various scenes such as the decapitation of merchants, who were abducted by retainers after accidentally passing in front of the gate, on the pretext of military art training.

Horinouchi and Doi existed through the medieval Japan. However, in the Sengoku period (period of warring states) (Japan), when authority was unified by the influential daimyo (Japanese territorial lord), samurai who had lived in their own town were obliged to live in a group in a castle town established by their lord, with the result that Horinouchi and Doi were gradually extinguished.

Place name

There are many places using the name of "Horinouchi" nationwide. These places were originally the site of the town Horinouchi in the medieval Japan. "Horinouchi" is written in various ways using Chinese character, such as "堀之内," "堀の内," "堀ノ内" and "堀内." The main places using the name "Horinouchi" are introduced as follows.

[Original Japanese]