Nomakake, the last event for Soma-nomaoi Festival at Odaka, July 29, 2019. (野馬懸、相馬野馬追の最後の日です、2019年7月29日。)

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(Driving a bare horse at Nomakake, Odaka, July 29, 2019. 野馬懸の野馬追 小高 7/29/2019)
Today I was one of the large spectators at Nomakake, the last day event for 3-day Soma-nomaoi Festival in Soma region. Nomakake retains the very original style of the Soma-nomaoi, which was originated in military exercise in 900’s started by ancestors of Soma clan. At that time, wild horses were released as mock enemy. Today, three unsaddled horses were once released, one at a time, and then several mounted horsemen drove the horse into a corral in front of Soma Odaka Shrine. After all the three horses were driven into the corral, then several men, called Okobito, wearing white Shinto clothing and headband tried to catch the horses with their bare hands. Once the horse was captured, then it was offered to the shrine, where guardian god for Soma clan was enshrined. Photo above shows a horseman leading a bare white horse along a slope toward the corral.

(Conch shell horn blowers at Nomakake, Odaka, July 29, 2019. 野馬懸 の ホラ貝吹き 小高 7/29/2019)
Right before the horse driving began, conch shell horn blowers, as shown above, came in the middle of the slope to signal a start. You may see the closer view of the conch shell here.

After the bare horse led by a mounted horseman, several chaser horsemen followed, as shown above, running up the hill.

By watching a short footage below, you may feel the atmosphere of the scene of driving a horse up the hill. This was of the second horse drive.

In the last drive, an unsaddled horse chased by mounted horsemen from behind barely crashed into spectators’ area as shown above. (No one was injured.)

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(Chasing bare horses at Nomakake, Odaka, July 29, 2019. 野馬懸 の 野馬追 小高 7/29/2019)
Photo above was a scene that three horses driven into the field in front of the shrine are trying to escape from Okobito men in white shrine suits trying to catch them.

And here is a very short video that a young Okobito man tried to catch a horse but finally failed at this time. You may feel the atmosphere.

During the first and second days of Soma-nomaoi Festival, I attended a group as a translator. But the last day was free and I stayed overnight there and visited this event for the first time. The event venue was Soma Odaka Shrine which was located 20-minute walk from JR Odaka Station.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll. GPS data for a part of the section from Odaka Station was missing due to slow detection of my GPS device, so I added a line on the map.

Somanomaoi Festival and historic sites in Minamisoma City, July 26, 2015 (南相馬市 で 相馬野馬追 と史跡 2015年7月26日)

Today, main events of Somanomaoi Festival were held in Minamisoma City. I also visited some historic sites in the City.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20150726相馬野馬追2 (560x420)

First I visited Daihisan Stone Buddha statues. This site is located in Odaka District of the City. Though it is still within the evacuation area, any residents and travelers can visit the site in the daytime. The site had been designated as National Historic Site.

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( Daihisan Stone Buddha statues, Minamisoma City, July 26, 2015, 大非山石仏 南相馬市 小高区 2015/7/26)
Daihisan Stone Buddha statues are said to be more than 1000 years old. Some of them are shown above.
大非山 の石仏は、1000年以上前のものと、言われています。写真は、その一部です。迫力あります。

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The site is also maintained as a public park as shown above. The surrounding area is very beautiful with rich green.

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( Horse racing with armor, Minamisoma City, July 26, 2015, 甲冑競馬 相馬野馬追 南相馬市 2015/7/26)
Then I went to see the main events of Somanomaoi Festival at Hibarigahara Ground. The first event from noon was horse racing with armored soldiers and their own family flags mounted as shown above.
その後、原町区の 雲雀(ひばり)が原の祭場地 に行き、正午から、甲冑競馬 が行われます。(写真)

You can also watch a short footage above in order to feel the atmosphere of the race.

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The second event was races by mounted soldiers to get shrine flags from the sky. This event is called Shinkisodatsusen. Above picture shows a scene.
次に、神旗争奪戦 があります。(写真)

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The Somanomaoi Festival is held for three consecutive days in late July. During the events you happen to meet many horses on the road in the city such as shown above. A number of citizens join the festival with their own horses dressed in colorful cloths.

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Finally, I visited another historic site of the city which was Sakurai Tumulus from 4th century. It is a front square back square type tumulus similar to Oyasuba Tumulus in Koriyama City. This site is also a National Historic Site.

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Moving a little ahead of the tumulus site I found some mega solar power plants. Above photo shows one of them.

【2012年11月23日】 相馬市 から 南相馬市 へ( Nov. 23, 2012: From Soma City to Minamisoma City )

本日は、 相馬市 から国道6号を南下し、 南相馬市 へ。更に国道6号を南下し、 浪江町 との境界近くで、原発事故の 警戒区域 になり折返しました。詳細は、下のGPSログを参照。
Today, I went south on Route 6 from Soma City and entered Minamisoma City. Going south further on Route 6, there was a checkpoint near the border to Namie Town, from which I had to return back because of the evacuation zone of the nuclear accident. The detail was shown in the GPS log below.

20121123相馬市から南相馬市警戒区域折返しgpsw (561x349)

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途中の国道6号沿いに、道の駅「 そうま 」があります。写真は、その案内標識と外観です。
There was the Road Station "Soma" along the Route 6. The guide sign and the outside view are shown in the pictures above.

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更に南下すると、写真の 南相馬市 へ入ります。
Going further south I entered Minamisoma City as shown in the picture above.

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そのあと、約12km走ると、中心部の 原町(はらまち)区 に入る。写真は、JR 常磐線 の 原ノ町駅 です。写真にあるように、現在 原ノ町駅 からは 相馬駅 までの下り電車のみ営業。上りは、原発事故の 警戒区域 で遮断されています。
Pedaling the bike about 12km after that, I entered Haramachi area which was the center of the City. The picture above shows Haranomachi Station of the JR Joban Line. As shown in the second picture, now there were only outbound trains bound for Soma from the Station. Inbound trains were now blocked by the evacuation zone of the nuclear accident.

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原ノ町駅 の近く、国道6号沿いに、写真の道の駅「 南相馬 」があります。祝日ということもあり、かなりにぎわっていました。
Near the Haranomachi station, along the Route 6, there was the Road Station "Minamisoma". Since it was a National Holiday today, the place was clouded with people.

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そこから更に南下すると、 浪江町 との境界近くで、写真の 警戒区域 の 検問所 があり、ここで折返しとなります。
Going further south from there, approaching near the boundary to Namie Town, there was a checkpoint for the evacuation zone as shown in the picture above, and I had to return back.
Welcome! 福が満開、福のしま。
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