This year marks the 14th annual Wara Art Festival in Japan. Hosted at the Uwasekigata Park in the Niigita prefecture, this creative event features massive sculptures made from rice straw, called “wara” in Japanese. The theme of 2022 was “things that bring happiness,” so all of the artworks are unified by this idea.
The Wara Art Festival partners with the Musashino Art University to dispose of unused straw from the rice harvest. Art students from the university take on the unique challenge of creating wooden structures that are then covered with bunches of straw. While last year's collection boasted giant fearsome animals, 2022's gallery has a cuter approach.
Two of the straw sculptures that embody happiness, for instance, depict a maneki-neko, or “beckoning cat,” which is a common symbol of good luck. Another stunning piece portrays a Chinese mythical creature called the qilin, which was said to bring happiness wherever it walks, and a sculpture of a pine tree, which symbolizes wisdom and longevity.
The 2022 Wara Art Festival is officially held on October 8, but the sculptures are on view at Uwasekigata Park until the end of October. You can also see the work from previous festivals in their online gallery.