Soma Nomaoi: The Thousand-Year-Old Samurai Festival

3 minute read

The Soma Nomaoi festival is a festival that takes place annually in July in Haramachi City in the Fukushima prefecture. The mission? Recreate samurai battle scenes (among other things).

Background: From Horse Training To Battle Reenactment (and more)

The festival began as a military undertaking - a military general released a suite of wild horses, which his troops were then tasked with tracking, catching and bringing back as an offering to the gods.

Present Day: Flag Battles and Exciting Horse Races

The festival has become a popular attraction with a wide range of events, offering street parades, exciting horse races, and a horse-mounted flag-catching competition. Participants dress up in samurai armour, honouring their ancestors and bringing a battle-like atmosphere.

Many proud local participants keep horses especially to participate in the event, all while donning their ancestors' samurai gear. One of the main events -- a flag battle -- regularly involves more than 400 horses, believed to be the largest amount of horses in a festival in one place, in the world.

Location and Timing

The Soma Nomaoi festival takes place in Haramachi City in east Japan, on the last weekend (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) of July each year.

Overview Video

See below for a taste of the festival:

More information on how to attend:

Images: One, Two, Three