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Soma Nomaoi – The Riders Assemble

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

On day two of the Soma Nomaoi festival, the riders parade back to the Higarigahara-Saijochi horse racing ground from their respective hometowns.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Once at the ground everyone starts to get organized. Samurai on giant horses shouted instructions.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Others put the final touches to their armor.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

There were plenty of aging samurai preparing for battle. Some took a quick break from the heat for refreshments.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

This shot sums up how I, or probably any foot soldier, feels when standing next to cavalry. You’re small, vulnerable, and fully aware why a horse is far more useful than any kingdom.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Following the samurai are those offering spiritual protection. Ladies performed a traditional sacred dance, and mikoshi (portable shrines) were carried into the arena.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Armor on, flags unfurled, prayers offered, time to ride.

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

Soma Nomaoi Samurai Horseman Festival, Fukushima, Japan

And yes in the above epic samurai shot, the horse is sticking its tongue out to the camera 🙂

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