Around 400 horse-riding flag-bearing samurai warriors in armor sprinting across the fields is a sight that warps all sense of reality. But it opens a convincing portal to the past for three days straight in Soma city and Minamisoma city, Fukushima Prefecture. The Soma Nomaoi festival takes place every year, in the last week of July, and is an important intangible folk cultural property of Japan.
The Soma region is a famous horse-breeding area and it has the Chinese character for horse in its name to prove it. Legend has it that the Soma Nomaoi event was founded 1,000 years ago by a distant ancestor of the Soma clan, Taira no Masakado. What used to be a military exercise transformed into a Shinto ritual to pray for peace. Soma Nomaoi festival has successfully adapted to the times while keeping most of its traditions going to this day.
The 2021 event was held without spectators, but Some city hopes to reopen the events and celebrations to all in 2022. The tentative schedule for the next edition is from July 23 through 25 (Sunday, Saturday and Monday). For tickets, please check the event’s official website.
Around Soma city
Soma city, Fukushima Prefecture