In what was a first World Cup quarter-final for the Japanese, neither an entire nation seemingly now besotted by rugby, nor a raucous 50,000 crowd packed into Tokyo Stadium, could carry the hosts to victory on Sunday.
Wales subsequently secured the win via Ross Moriarty's 74th-minute try, which was converted by Dan Biggar.
France's first two tries mixed bludgeoning power with gracefulness, Vahaamahina burrowing over in the fifth minute before Ollivon finished off an 80-meter move that started with a break by the excellent Virimi Vakatawa just outside his own 22.
"They (France) are a good team with some real quality players".
With France leading 19-10, Vahaamahina had just claimed a lineout five metres from the Wales line and his side were edging their way forward when he hit Wainwright with the elbow.
Gatland's men had been second best up until that point, with France wasting opportunities to take a more commanding lead in the first half.
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Defeat also brought the curtain down on France coach Jacques Brunel's two-year spell in charge of the three-time World Cup finalists.
After capturing the imagination of a nation with a spectacular run, the World Cup dream for Japan came to an end last night after a 26-3 loss to SA.
Eight years ago an early red card for Wales captain Sam Warburton played a key role as France triumphed 9-8 in their World Cup semifinal in Auckland.
Wales fought back to claim a 20-19 victory over a 14 men France team while South Africa defeated Japan 26-3 last night.
Their hearts had been broken too many times to be overly confident, even if form, world ranking and all other measurable factors suggested they would beat France comfortably.
Wales had to reply quickly following such an unsettling opening, and they delivered courtesy of a 12th-minute try for Wainwright.
France-Galles sur une fausse note — Rugby
Le deuxième ligne de Clermont a souligné que son geste était "indéfendable", lors d'une très courte prise de parole après la rencontre dans le vestiaire tricolore où les caméras de TF1 ont capté l'instant.
Gatland revealed that number eight Josh Navidi limped off with a hamstring injury while centre Jonathan Davies was forced to withdraw from the starting XV before kick-off because of a knee problem.
But Moriarty had not been on the pitch for two minutes when referee Jaco Peyper yellow-carded him for a high tackle on France centre Gael Fickou.
They have not played, though, since that showdown in Higashi-ku after their final pool game against England was called off due to Typhoon Hagibis.
"Of course the red card changed the match, of course when we were playing with 14 men it was hard, but I want to stress the quality of this team, their courage".
Wales was then gifted 10 points despite hardly having any territory or ball.
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