In Japanese culture waste is often minimised, especially in food; off-cuts are reimagined into delicacies, plant stems are not discarded but made into tea… Sometimes, leftovers are transformed into art, likes these giant rice straw sculptures at the annual Wara Art Festival.
Autumn marks the harvest season and in the rice-producing region of Niigata on the west coast, the leftover rice straws (wara in Japanese) are used in many ways – as feed for livestock, to help improve soil conditions and, in this case, turned into an art attraction.
The annual Wara Art Festival, held at Uwasekigata Park, was created in 2008 when the farmers engaged Tokyo's Musashino Art University to make giant art out of the excess rice straws. We’ve seen a variety of creatures over the previous years, including dinosaurs. Since this is the festival’s tenth anniversary, the beastly sculptures have doubled in size. There's a lion, gorilla, bull, crocodile and rhinoceros.
While the festival is over, you can still spot these rice straw animal sculptures at the park until the end of October. They are perfect for Instagram. However, do note that the festival is not in Tokyo, but an hour away from the capital by plane – or less than four hours by train.
For more information about the festival, check their Facebook page.