You have to hand it over to the Japanese for their incredibly creative bent of mind. It’s not only their remarkable art of origami or bonsai they excel in, but also in the not so well-known art of rice straw sculptures. Such is the popularity of this rice straw art that it has taken the form of an annual festival, that goes by the name of Wara Art Festival, where giant rice straw sculptures are displayed. Incidentally, ‘wara’ in Japanese means rice straw.
Wara Art Festival was the brainchild of the students of Niigata University and Musashino Art University in Tokyo, Japan. It was a student named Amy Goda who visualized these fantastic mammoth rice straw figures. His aim was to present the rice straw material in an innovative style. And that’s exactly what he did together with the local farmers!
When the first straw sculptures were created in 2006 and exhibited in 2008, they seemed so alluring that it caught the imagination of the locals of the city of Niigata, who decided to make it an annual event. Thus was born the Wara Art Festival.
Since then, this festival is being held every year in autumn at Uwasekigata Park. It not only gives an expression to the creativity of sculptors but also celebrates the rice harvest. In addition to rice straw sculptures, the festival includes songs and dances, speciality sales, ‘Saikan Market’ that sells agricultural products, food courts and rice straw sculpting classes.
To make this festival happen, the farmers meticulously collect all the leftover rice straws. They use some in feeding their livestock and to improve the soil, but the rest they retain for use in making gigantic sculptures. It is certainly interesting to find how rice straw is used in creating such huge creatures.
The rice straw sculptures are primarily animal figures that range from rhinos, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, gorillas to lions and dinosaurs. This year the attractions are a prehistoric mammoth, a monkey and a snow tiger. Sky’s the limit for the sculptors’ imagination! Although the festival is held for a few days, the sculptures remain on display throughout the month.
There is little doubt that this unique festival is moving from strength to strength with each passing year. It not only gives a platform for the sculptors to display their sculpting talents but also infuses a sense of bonhomie in locals and fosters unity among them and the visitors.
More Info: Instagram