These beautiful creations are made from rice straw leftover from the fall harvest each year, and appear to be massive in size.
The area in Northern Japan called coastal Niigata prefecture, is known for its abundant rice paddies. After the rice is harvested and the grain extracted, a huge amount of rice straw is leftover, called wara.
Instead of going to waste, the excess wara is reused in many ways: for roofs, fertilizer, livestock feed, and, historically, to make various goods before it was replaced by more modern materials. In the region’s capital city, Niigata, it’s put to an even more creative use, transformed into giant, fantastic animal sculptures.
Each year during the Fall in Norther Japan the Wara Art Festival is held where Musashino Art University students in Tokyo create amazingly beautiful sculptures from rice straw.
These marvelous creations are made by braiding the golden straw over a wooden frame shaped like the animal they’re creating. Some of the designs include lions, gorillas, crocodiles, and even dinosaurs!
Check out some of the amazing creations below!
We like to think of this one as an interpretation of King Kong.
Just to get an idea of how intricate the detailed work is, here is a close-up of the woven straw:
The students of Musashino worked together to fill the fields of Niigata with giant animal sculptures made of bound rice straw, and they’ve been doing it every year since 2008.
The giant frames are built from wood, and the designs are chosen by the students.
While the frame is being built and the structure prepared for coverings, the students back at the University are busy weaving the first layer of straw, or wara, to cover the outside of the animal.
The nest step is to use scaffolding and ladders to place the straw at the exceptional heights of these massive creations.
Once completed by the students, the animal structures are brought to life and you can enjoy all their magnificent work below:
Gator (above), Rat (below)
And as you can see, it’s fun for the whole family. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the art show.
Do you have a favourite straw animal from this display?