A 1,000-year-old traditional festival which introduces the code of the samurai of the Warring States Period to the present day.
Hibarigahara, Ota Shrine and Odaka Shrine (both located in Minami-Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture) and Nakamura Shrine (Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture)
In the Soma District of Fukushima Prefecture, which is a famous horse-breeding region, a festive event called Soma-Nomaoi has been held since ancient times. This is a festival jointly organized by three shrines in Fukushima Prefecture - Ota Shrine and Odaka Shrine in Minami-Soma City, and Nakamura-Shrine in Soma City. It has also been designated as a significant intangible folk cultural asset* of Japan.
The highlights of the three-day festival are the Koshiki Kacchu Keiba, in which twelve samurai horsemen clad in armor and helmets, and carrying katana swords all race over a distance of 1,000 meters, and the Shinki Sodatsusen, in which several hundred samurai horsemen compete for 40 shrine flags shot into the air with fireworks. Both take place on the vast Hibarigahara field on the 24th. There are many other events also worth seeing. These include the solemn opening ceremony at each of the shrines on the 23rd, the procession heading towards the Hibarigahara venue three kilometers away upon a signal sounded from a horn made by boring a hole in a large conch shell and war drums on the 24th, and the Nomagake ritual in which men dressed in white capture horses barehanded and present them as offerings to Odaka Shrine on the 25th. All these events offer such spectacular sights that you will feel as if picture scrolls of the Sengoku Period (1477-1573) were unfolding before your very eyes.
The Soma-Nomaoi is said to have its origins in the early 10th Century when samurai warriors of this land secretly commenced their military exercises.
*A significant intangible folk cultural asset refers to manners and customs related to food, clothing and shelter, vocation, faith, annual events, and folkloric performing arts, etc., which have been established by the people in daily life and passed down through generations, deemed especially valuable by the State.
*Photo (C) Soma-Nomaoi Executive committee
[Bus]special shuttle bus from JR Haranomachi Station. JR Haranomachi Station is approximately 60 minutes from JR Sendai Station on the Limited Express.
Dates: July 23rd-25th
City: Soma City and Minami-Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture