• Kyodo


Horsemen in medieval samurai armor raced through tracks and paraded in front of cheering crowds as the annual Soma Nomaoi festival reached its climax recently in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Some 43,000 people came to see Sunday’s festival, which aims to re-create battle scenes from the violent Sengoku Period (1477-1573). One of the highlights is a horse race called Kacchu Keiba, in which horsemen clad in elaborate armor and clutching their katana swords race through a 1,000-meter track. The other highlight is Shinki Sodatsusen, in which a skyrocket sends two flags aloft that descend into the hands of waiting horsemen fighting to catch them.

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