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Soma Nomaoi 相馬野馬追

Soma-Nomaoi Soma-Nomaoi
Soma-Nomaoi Soma-Nomaoi

See races, processions, and the samurai spirit at this ancient horse festival

Over a thousand years old, the Soma Nomaoi is a celebration of martial skill and horse riding. After 2011, it has also become a symbol of resilience and survival for the people of Soma. It usually takes place on the last Saturday, Sunday and Monday in July.

Don't Miss

  • Ogyouretsu, the procession of horse riders in full samurai gear
  • Katchu Keiba, the main horse racing event
  • Nomakake, the horse-capturing ritual

How to Get There

Minamisoma can easily be reached by bus, train or rental car.

The easiest route is to go by Joban Line express for Haranomachi Station. A special shuttle bus takes visitors to Minamisoma City during the festival.

Martial prowess and spirit on show

This three-day festival takes in the Soma District , which has long been a horse-breeding region. The Soma Nomaoi event began as military exercises, organized by the founder of the Soma clan, Taira no Kojiro Masakado.

Even today, a descendant of the Soma clan assumes the role of supreme commander during the festival. The Soma Nomaoi has been designated as an Important National Intangible Folk Cultural Asset.

The event is usually held on the last Saturday, Sunday and Monday of July. The Shinto departure ceremony, Shutsujin-shiki, takes place concurrently at three important shrines: Ota-jinja Shrine, Nakamura-jinja Shrine, and Odaka-jinja Shrine.

Don't miss the second day, where a parade of proud riders in traditional samurai armor ride down the street with banners of various houses and clans fluttering in the wind.

Straight out of a movie

The main race, known as Kachu Keiba, takes place at noon. The participants gallop around the 1,000-meter track with helmets off and banners streaming behind them in scenes that seem straight out of a movie.

Next is the Shinki-soudatsusen, where hundreds of mounted samurai fight to capture sacred flags that are shot into the air.

The last day features Nomakake, where mounted horsemen chase horses into the shrine precincts and young men who had a Shinto blessing and dressed in white attire run and try to capture horses barehanded. The first horse that is captured is then ceremoniously given as an offering to Odaka Shrine.

Back to health

The Soma Nomaoi, held on a reduced scale in the year of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, has been revived and has become an important centre of activity for the local community as a demonstration of hope and spirit—the same fighting spirit their samurai ancestors had.

The latest information may differ, so please check the official website

* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.

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