Soma Nomaoi Wild Horse Chase Festival
Watch majestic samurai re-enact battles on horseback
The Soma Nomaoi festival, an action-packed three-day spectacle of historical battle re-enactment and horseback riding, features more than 400 participants dressed as medieval samurai warriors.
An Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan, the event originated as a military exercise devised over 1,000 years ago by Taira no Masakado, a samurai warlord, believed to be the founding member of the Soma clan. Each year, after military drills, samurai chased and captured wild horses, before presenting them as offerings to Shinto deities.
Today, the ritual continues, with the festival’s ‘commander in chief’ performed by a descendent of the Soma clan. The main event takes place on day two, when hundreds of samurai battle it out on horseback for the Shinki Sodatsusen, a sacred flag capturing competition. Reminiscent of the fierce battles of the Warring States period (1467–1568), warriors race to fight over flags that are shot overhead by fireworks. The three days of processions, races and competition ends with a Shinto ceremony offering a symbolic wild horse to the deities.
An exciting and colorful festival, Soma Nomaoi also offers a unique opportunity to see faithfully replicated samurai armor, other military garments and battle flags in historical context.
How to get there
10 minutes from JR Haranomachi Station by car or 15 minutes from Minami-Souma Interchange (IC) by car.