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Soma Nomaoi Festival – Shutsujin Ceremony at Nakamura Shrine

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

The Soma Nomaoi samurai horsemen festival takes place each July in Fukushima Prefecture. Following the devastation of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami it was cancelled, but it restarted once again in 2013. I attended this year to document one of Japan’s great festivals, and the resilience of Fukushima’s people.

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Preparations for the lead samurai and his horse at the castle beside Nakamura Shrine.

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Breakfast of champions. Sake and cucumbers at Nakamura Shrine.

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Gearing up. A priest from the shrine places the helmet on a samurai rider.

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Time for a quick portrait. New camera, same technique of getting up in people’s faces.

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Priestess helps one of the youngest riders get ready.

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

The little girl was actually the daughter of the Shinto priest.

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Statues at the shrine show the importance of horses to the area.

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

The priestess like all of the other participants on horseback was an excellent rider.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

The mounted samurai were followed by pikemen and priests carrying a mikoshi (portable shrine).

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

The samurai and priests then parade south from Soma to Mina Soma and the Hibarigahara Saijochi horse racing track for the main events.

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

Soma Nomaoi Festival, Nakamura Jina, Soma, Fukushima

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