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.
Preparations for the lead samurai and his horse at the castle beside Nakamura Shrine.
Breakfast of champions. Sake and cucumbers at Nakamura Shrine.
Gearing up. A priest from the shrine places the helmet on a samurai rider.
Time for a quick portrait. New camera, same technique of getting up in people’s faces.
Priestess helps one of the youngest riders get ready.
The little girl was actually the daughter of the Shinto priest.
Statues at the shrine show the importance of horses to the area.
The priestess like all of the other participants on horseback was an excellent rider.
The mounted samurai were followed by pikemen and priests carrying a mikoshi (portable shrine).
The samurai and priests then parade south from Soma to Mina Soma and the Hibarigahara Saijochi horse racing track for the main events.