September in Japan brings the start of the rice harvest. Although the process is heavily mechanized and will run through October, children and artists from around the country have gathered recently in the Niigata Prefecture to participate in the Wara Art Festival. Wara is the Japanese word for rice straw and with a rice crop set to exceed 14 million metric tons, there’s plenty of wara to go around in Japan.
Begun eight years ago, the festival has turned into a public spectacle which draws global attention. Although the artists change every year, the sculptors this year are all students from Musashino Art University. Setting up wooden frames in Kamizeki Lagoon Park, the artists worked to construct mammoth creatures to entice and entertain the public. Based on the main theme this year, dinosaurs, you can see why the film Jurassic World did so well in the Japanese market and why there is even a robotic dinosaur working the counter at the world’s first hotel run by robots, which just so happens to be located in Japan.
So far over 6,000 people have visited the sculptures, with at least twice that total expected before they are dismantled at the end of next month. At that time, the wara is recycled back into the fields as fertilizer for the next year’s crop. The same process occurs with the rice paddies featuring the Star Wars logo. Over 4,800 pounds of rice straw was used in creating this year’s collection of sculptures.
Check out the rest of the weird, but beautiful, sculptures below.