Last weekend, Nomaoi was held at Soma City and Minami-Soma City in Fukushima. It was a festival I got to know last year after the quake and wishing to go. It has a 1070 year-long history since the era of Heike’s ancestor.
It was very hot and humid as usual as Japanese summer (over 30 Celsius is usual, sometimes over 35 C with humidity).
National Designated Important Intangible Folk Culture- Soma Nomaoi
From Asahi Shimbun. Click the link below and you’ll able to see the map and some pics, one of them was on their Facebook.
July 28, 2012
By TATSUYA SASAKI/ Staff Writer
At this year’s Soma Nomaoi medieval re-enactment festival in Fukushima Prefecture, the “samurai clan” belonging to Toshihiko Umeda will gather for a joyous family reunion.
Umeda, 59, and his family, who had lived in the Odaka district in Minami-Soma, were separated after an evacuation order was imposed following last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake and accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
But the festival will serve as a vehicle for all the family members to get together for the first time in a while.
“Everybody has their jobs,” Umeda said. “So if it wasn’t for Nomaoi, there would hardly be a chance for all the family to come together.”
The centuries-old festival, where horseback riders don full body armor and stage mock battles, kicks off on July 28.
The scale of the festival was substantially reduced last year due to the March 11, 2011, quake and the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. But this year it will return to almost normal with more than 400 mounted “samurai” expected to participate.
Many of them, such as Umeda and his family, will return from areas to which they evacuated.
Toshihiko and his 81-year-old mother, Tsumako, live in the prefecture’s capital, Fukushima. Toshihiko’s wife, Yoshiko, 58, has evacuated to another district in Minami-Soma.
Kunihiko, 31, Toshihiko’s eldest son, who worked at a local equestrian club, has settled in Chiba Prefecture, to where his horse was evacuated. And Kunihiko’s brother, Katsuhiro, 28, moved to Ibaraki Prefecture, turning to an acquaintance for help in finding a job.
It marked the first time that each of the Umedas has lived outside their hometowns.
The Umeda family has taken part in the festival for generations. Toshihiko first participated when he was a second-year high school student. Kunihiko entered in his first year at junior high school, and Katsuhiro’s initial participation was in his second year of high school.
On July 22, Katsuhiro visited the horse-riding club in Chiba Prefecture where Kunihiko works, to practice riding. The younger brother rode a horse for the first time in two years.
“My muscles ached the following day and I had trouble at my workplace,” Katsuhiro said. “But I felt the old familiar sense of being shaken on the back of a horse.”
Kunihiko said: “I never wanted to leave my hometown, because I was surrounded by my friends and older members of Nomaoi. They had helped me since I was little. I don’t know when, but I want to return to my hometown.”
By TATSUYA SASAKI/ Staff Writer
Probably this video was taken before the quake and radiation.
This one is for last year’s documentary with some English scripts. Horses were suffered by tsunami, injured or starved, too. Last year, the scale of the festival was significantly shrunk, and even it’s become bigger this year, still sightseers’ number hasn’t come back.
Professor Ryugo (Ryu) Hayano at Tokyo University, who is measuring Tohoku radiation actively just after the Nuclear Plant’s explosion, also attended to Nomaoi. Below is his album.