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Sunday, July 28, 2013

2013 Soma Nomaoi Festival (1)

The Soma Nomaoi Festival(相馬野馬追) is being held in the Soma area, Fukushima Prefecture from July 27 to 29. It is a festival with a history of over 1,000 years. The festival is said to have originated from a military training by Taira no Masakado(平将門, ?-940).

Samurai cavaliers dressed as if from a period of provincial wars head for a rendezvous point through a national road and rice fields.

Soma Nomaoi Festival:
http://soma-nomaoi.jp/  (Japanese version)
http://soma-nomaoi.jp/english.htm  (English version)

broadcast schedule:
http://www.minamisoma.tv/news/detail_130706.html  (Japanese version only)
live broadcast (July 28-29):
http://www.minamisoma.tv/channel/live.asx

Three shrines and five villages in the Soma area are taking part in the festival.
The Soma area was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The main venue of the event is the former emergency evacuation preparation zone, and the venue was decontaminated.

Many of horseback riders lost their family members, houses and horses in 2011. Although about 200 of 600 horses were left dead or missing by the tsunami, 430 horses including retired thoroughbred racehorses participate in the festival this year.

The highlight of this festival, armor horse race(甲冑競馬, Kacchu-keiba) and  competition for sacred flag(神旗争奪戦, Sinki-sodatsusen), are held on July 28.

 Wild horse chasing(野馬懸, Nomagake)  will be held on July 29. It's a Shinto ritual that comes from offering captured wild horses.


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