Soma Nomaoi (Horse Festival)

NOTE: Beginning in 2024, Soma Nomaoi will be held at the end of May.

Visit the Soma Nomaoi Executive Committee Site for additional details and the latest updates.

Bringing over 1000 years of history and tradition to life.

nomaoi warrior

Soma Nomaoi is said to have started over a thousand years ago, when Taira No Masakado, who is said to be the forefather of the Soma clan, released wild horses (noma) in the Shimosa Province (northwestern portion of Chiba prefecture) and used them to represent enemy soldiers in his military exercises.

Now, every year on the final Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in July, around 400 horseback warriors dress in armor, strap a sword to their sides, tie a flag to their backs, and charge forward. Looking at this splendid scene, one could almost see a scroll rolling open to reveal a magnificent depiction from the Sengoku period of Japan.

Day 1

Departure Ceremony (Shutsujin Shiki)

The Departure Ceremony is held at the Soma Nakamura Shrine, the Soma Ota Shrine, and the Soma Odaka Shrine. The warriors depart for the Hibarigahara Festival Grounds, where the main events take place.

departure ceremony


Last Saturday in July


Reception of the Supreme Commander (Sotaisho Omukae)

In the Kitago encampment, the samurai chiefs, deputy strategists, cavalry chiefs, and other high-ranking samurai gather with the vice-commanders and conch shell blowers to greet the supreme commander.

At the supreme commander’s command, they depart for the Hibarigahara Festival Grounds.

welcoming the supreme commander


Last Saturday in May, starting at noon


Kashima Ward, Minamisoma City

Day 2

Parade (Ogyoretsu)

Around 400 warriors ride three kilometers on horseback toward the Hibarigahara Festival Grounds. These armor-clad warriors, wearing their swords and with their ancestral flags fluttering in the wind, seem to have leapt straight from a Sengoku-period scroll.



Last Sunday in May, starting at 9:30am


Nomaoi Road (Haramachi Ward, Minamisoma City)

Armored Horse Race (Kacchu Keiba)

At the sounding of the war drums and the shell horns at noon, the warriors remove their helmets and dawn white headbands. With their ancestral flags strapped to their backs, the riders and their mounts become one in this race of bravery and determination, leaving a cloud of dust behind.

armored horse race


Last Sunday in July, starting at 12pm


Hibarigahara Festival Grounds (Haramachi Ward, Minamisoma City)

Sacred Flag Competition (Shinki Sodatsusen)

At the long-awaited sounding of the shell horn at 1pm, hundreds of warriors gather on horseback in the middle of the grounds. A shot rings out as sacred flags are shot high into the air, and the riders struggle as if in a real battle to grab the flags fluttering down onto the field.

The rider who emerges victorious with flag in hand is hailed with applause for their victory.

sacred flag competition


Last Sunday in May, starting at 1pm


Hibarigahara Festival Grounds (Haramachi Ward, Minamisoma City)

Day 3

Wild Horse Capture (Noma Kake)

In an event hailing back to the very beginning of Nomaoi, a wild horse is released within the grounds of the shrine in Odaka. It is cornered, and youths in white headbands attempt to catch it with their bare hands. They then proceed to dedicate it in front of the shrine in a Shinto ritual.

wild horse capture


Last Monday in May, starting at 9am


Soma Odaka Shrine (Odaka Ward, Minamisoma City)

Soma Nomaoi Executive Committee

Event summary, viewing rules, transportation guide, etc.

Tel: 0244-22-3064

(Executive Office: within the Tourism Exchange Division at Minamisoma City Hall)


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