Fukushima bicycle samurai

Soma Nomaoi Festival Fukushima 相馬野馬追

The three-day Sōma Nomaoi Festival [ 相馬野馬追 ] in Fukushima Prefecture finished yesterday. The locals dress up like 15th century samurai and ride their bicycles to medieval battle re-enactments.

If you like spectacle, nationalist pride, martial competition and traditional values, this festival of traditional Japanese horsemanship with Shinto religion has it in spades. It’s very cool to see. View the slideshow from the 2016 festival, which took place July 23 – 25, by clicking the arrows on the image below. Hover over the image for captions.

Sōma-gun [Sōma district] in Fukushima Prefecture is a historical horse-breeding area. This festival hearkens back to the heyday of the Sengoku Period (1467-1603), when Japan was subject to near constant military conflict as the daimyo [local warlords] fought with each other for influence while also suppressing revolts by pretenders, peasants, and Buddhist monks. This period ended with the re-establishment of a central government after Ieyasu Tokugawa won the Battle of Sekigahara. The Tokugawa Shogunate would control the government of Japan for nearly three centuries, after which Emperor Meiji restored nominally imperial rule to Japan in 1868. Make Nippon great again! Tennōheika Banzai! Yamato Banzai!

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