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Tokyo’s Musashino Art University students design huge animated creatures (Sculptures) from straw to bring back lost practice of using remains from rice harvest in Japan.
Image credit: Wara Art Festival

Leftover straw post the harvesting season of rice in Japan has found a rather innovative and creative use. Huge, gigantic structures (Sculptures) of various animals and mythological characters have been created from the same, be it the mighty Gorilla or popular character, Amabie.

Image credit: Wara Art Festival

“Wara,” as it is known traditional in Japan, are remains from the process of extracting rice off the crop. Generally, it is put to use for the purpose of building roofs, tools of different kinds and even footwear. In fact, it has typically been put to use even to improve the fertility of the soil, alongside being utilised as feed for cattle and raw material formats of all sorts.

Image credit: Wara Art Festival
Sculptures
Image credit: Wara Art Festival

However, this practice had lost its popularity in recent times. Since 2008, though, the Wara Art Festival has been regularly held at Niigata’s Uwasekigata Park to revitalise and bring back this form of traditional Japanese art among the masses.

Image credit: Wara Art Festival

Designed by students from Tokyo’s Musashino Art University and thereby exhibited in the form of art installations through collaboration with local residents in Niigata, the festival portraying these giant straw figures is currently in its 13th year. Local craftsmen and farmers are the ones who bring the idea into physical reality through a hard technique called “Toba-ami.” Expected to last until the 31st of October, this year’s edition comes after a year of setback due to the Covid-19 pandemic not allowing for gatherings and events to be organised on a large scale.

Image credit: Wara Art Festival
The hope or purpose of this effort is mainly for the practice of using “wara” to be embraced and acknowledged once again.
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