Samurai-style horsemen return to Fukushima town | Inquirer Lifestyle
The Japan News/Asia News Network Photo

Samurai-style horsemen return to Fukushima town

The Japan News/Asia News Network Photo

NAMIE, Fukushima — Fifty-four horses with riders dressed as samurai paraded on Saturday in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, as part of the Soma Nomaoi festival. This is the first time the horsemen have paraded since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

 Designated by the central government as an important intangible folk cultural property, Soma Nomaoi is a traditional festival in the Soma region of the prefecture.

 On this first day of the festival, the samurai horsemen parade started shortly after 8 a.m. Shell horns blew as the mounted warriors paraded along a 1-kilometer route in the central part of the town as the local residents gathered to watch them.

 “I’ve gotten courage from their heroic form, just the same as before,” said Masanobu Abe, who used to be a resident in Namie, but after his home was destroyed by tsunami, he has been living as a refugee in Fukushima city. “I think we have to move forward, one step by one step.”

 During the main festival on Sunday, Kacchu Keiba (armored samurai horse racing) will take place when mounted samurai race on a course, banners streaming in the wind. On Monday, the last day of the festival, there will be Nomakake, an event in which men wrangle horses with their bare hands and take them to a shrine.