One of the most famous festivals in Japan — the Soma Nomaoi festival — is held every July in Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the towns hardest hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Although attendance was affected the year of the disaster, recent numbers suggest that the crowds are returning, increasingly attracting more and more young people to gather and witness a unique spectacle of what life looked like in the age of samurai on an interactive and unrivaled scale. Dating back over 1,000 years, the festival is believed to have started as a military exercise, with over 400 horses used in the ceremonies today. Some of its participants are reportedly samurai descendants from the Soma clan, and half of those who participate maintain horses especially for this occasion.
The spectacle of this sacred festival includes a parade, a 1km horse race and a flag battle reminiscent of samurai-filled battlefields.
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“Samurai spectacle and Japanese tradition signal cultural comeback, renewed confidence for Fukushima”
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