Fall is here, which in Japan means it’s time for the annual rice harvest. Every year, farmers ensure that the leftover rice-straw, known as “wara,” doesn’t go to waste. The wara is recycled by using it to to feed livestock, improve soil, and in the coastal region of Niigata Prefecture, it’s even used to make giant, beastly sculptures for the Wara Art Festival, held at Uwasekigata Park.
We’ve featured amazing straw sculptures from past ceremonies, and this year’s Wara Art Festival—which marks its 10th anniversary—does not disappoint. The festival’s organizers are celebrating the occasion by making the already immense sculptures twice as big! The sculptures are so huge they need special wooden frames for greater stability. Designs include fierce lions, gigantic gorillas, enormous crocodiles, and hefty rhinoceroses.
The Wara Art Festival started in 2008 when Niigata’s farming community contacted the local Musashino Art University to get some creative direction on turning their excess straw into works of art. Since then, art students come to design and build new beasts every year in Uwasekigata Park. This year’s festival has come to a close, but the straw sculptures will remain up on display through October 31, 2017.