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The samurais and the tradition of their festivals
In Fukushima Prefecture, the Soma Nomai Festival is celebrated every year. This region, known for its strong tradition linked to horses, offers an unparalleled show every July final. Here, we will not only have the opportunity to enjoy these wild horses, but to see hundreds of Japanese citizens dressed in samurais. Therefore, in this article on my trip, we want to offer you all the necessary information so that you enjoy the most famous festivals in the country. And it is more and more tourists who add their trip to Japan to match the celebration of the festival.
The origin of the festival The origin of the festival dates back to the Sengoku era. The holiday, with more than 1000 years of history is carried out by the old exercise of Taira No Masakado. This was the founder of the Soma clan. From him it is known that he based his military tactics on a release of wild horses to confuse the enemy. After the battle, the horses were offered to the Shintista Myken Bodhisattva as thanks for the victory of his army. Since then, the honor of this historical figure, the Soma Nomai Festival is celebrated every year at the end of July. This has a duration of three days.
Where we will have the opportunity to see more than 500 Japanese dressed in their samurais armor and carrying standards and katanas. All parade and participate in the different rituals and activities mounted on horseback. Another particularities of this festival is that it is celebrated around a large area, previously territories of the Soma clan;hence its name. The location of the festival is concentrated in the populations of Odaka, Haramachi and Kashima;In all of them a part of the festival is celebrated. Enjoying the Soma Nomai Festival the first day of the festival begins with the Shutsujin ceremony.
This is celebrated in three different symphonist sanctuaries. After this ceremony, the troops commander touches the horn and shake the banner to notify the beginning of the holiday and the beginning of the trip to Hibarigahara. This is where the second day of the festival will begin. This second part and closing of the first day of the festival is held at the Kitago headquarters. Here we can see a perfect recreation of the ancient troops of Japanese warriors hoping to be called by their leader. This ceremony is known as the Soutoishou-Omakae. The parade made Hibarigahara is the star moment of the festival.
Here in addition to enjoying the parade we can also see other activities such as horse racing, also known as Kacchu Keiba. Another of the outstanding events of the big day of the festival is known as Shinki-Soudatsusen, where the samurais compete, mounted on horseback, to obtain the largest number of sacred flags. The festival ends with the Nomakade, where the Samurai warriors compete, dressed in white costumes, to capture the greatest number of desailed horses and take them as an offering to the Kami in the old sanctuary of Odaka. Other interest data to get to Soma is quite simple.
In fact, we can choose the means of transport that we prefer, from train, bus or own vehicle. Normally, the most commonly used medium is to take the bullet train from Tohoku to Sendai and then perform a small transford to the Haranomachi station. An important fact, for those who want to save money, is that during the festival an bus shuttle is activated that leads tourists to the city of Minami Soma. The Festival begins on the 23. However, ceremonies prior to the festival are held on the 22nd in some of the most famous sanctuaries in the region.
The entrance to the festival has an affordable price to any pocket, it is more a small donation to continue allowing tradition. In addition, if we want to learn more about this holiday we can visit the Municipal Museum of Minami Soma. Here we will find, in addition to information in several languages, the possibility of seeing reports on video and dioramas about the Soma Nomaoi. Armages and other instruments used during the different rituals of the festival are also exposed. The ticket price is about € 2 per person and its schedule is from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon.