Thomavalé World Tour 2010 – Part II – Haranomachi Samurai Races.

Lining up

On Saturday we headed out to the Samurai Races. I was kind of expecting a few old guys wearing their grandfather’s old helmet having a bit of a trot around a paddock, or at best a gymkhana vibe. I was not expecting several hundred dudes on horseback, decked out in full regalia, having proper racetrack races in front of thousands of people.

It was a pretty short-but-sweet event. We got there after it had supposedly started, but we didn’t miss out on too much. It started off with straight-up races around the tracks.

Thundering hooves

That was pretty damn impressive, I have no idea how they go that fast carrying those huge banners. They must have bloody good horses.

The atmosphere at the event was pretty subdued because it was incredibly hot and sunny. It must have been close to 40 degrees, and we were suffering sitting in the shade — to say nothing of the samurai on horseback in the sun, wearing however many kilos of black swadding and armour! We saw two races, and both times one of the horses finished without its rider. I reckon they passed out and fell off.

After the races there was a brief delay while they got everyone organised for the main event — the “mock battle”. We kinda had to work it out for ourselves but basically there were hundreds of samurai massed on the main field:

Waiting for the Mock Battle

Then fireworks were fired carrying red and blue ribbons, which proceeded to drop to the ground. The samurai wheeled around in a mass to try and catch the ribbons as they fell. It was a bit like parachutes on cracker night, except with horses, and swords. Pretty impressive.

It was pretty dangerous apparently, I saw one guy pass out and fall off (presumably from the heat — he didn’t move after he got up) and all in all we saw 3 ambulances get called onto the field. Pretty hardcore! Makes pony club feel a bit soft.

That was pretty much all there was to it actually, the races and the battle. Given the crowd, and the amount of effort everyone put in, the duration was a bit of an anticlimax — but it was certainly spectacular to see!

I took a bunch of pictures, just randomly snapping away. Here are the ones that are any good:

After all that, we escaped the heat and headed back to Katie’s for a much-needed cooldown and preparation for… Part III of Thomavalé World Tour!

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Posted in japan, photos | 2 Comments »


  1. Jon says:

    So the last bloke wasn’t so much a ronin as ronery.

  2. jillian says:

    Wow! That looks really cool, I will also check Alice’s blog, she might have a movie or two.
    How do they hold up those massive banners? And how do I share this on facebook?

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