Wara triceratops from the Wara Art Festival

Amazing Wara Art of Japan

Niigata Prefecture is in the Chūbu region of Northern Japan. Its coastal capital is Niigata, known for having a multitude of rice paddies.

After the Meiji Restoration, Niigata Prefecture was subdivided into Echigo Province and Sado Province. During the Sengoku period, the Nagano clan sometimes acted as vassals to the Uesugi clan, who ruled a fief in the western portion of Niigata from Kasugayama Castle. Nagao Kagetora, who later took the name Uesugi Kenshin, was the most notable member of the Nagao clan. By taking the name Uesugi, he became the head of the Uesugi clan and controlled the whole realm. He also unified the leaders of the Echigo province and became its sole ruler.

Niigata city is the third largest Japanese city next to Fukuoka and Kitakyushu that faces the Sea of Japan. Niigata was the very first port on the Sea of Japan that was opened to foreign trade after Japan opened its doors to the world through the initiatives of Matthew Perry.

Niigata Prefecture is also famous for its abundance of rice paddies that produces a bountiful harvest each fall. After the rice is harvested and the grain removed, there is so much straw (wara in Japanese) that are left over. The wara are used for making roofs, livestock feed, fertilizer, and other various goods. In Niigata, aside from the traditional uses of wara, it is used for more creative purposes. Wara is turned into fantastic, larger than life sculptures!

Wara triceratops from the Wara Art Festival. (screengrab)

For the past years, students from the Musashino Art University in Tokyo have gone to Niigata every fall to dream up and create extravagant and gigantic structures from the leftover straw. The wondrous golden works of art are created by piecing patches of braided straw over a wooden frame to make giant animals and are displayed for all the world to see during the annual Wara Festival in  Uwasekigata Park.

The Wara Art Festival began in 2008 when the farming community of Niigata got in touch with the Musashino Art University for creative advice on turning their excess straq into pieces of beautiful art. The rest is history!

Check out these awesome wara art during the Wara Art Festivals:

YouTube video by Story of Everythingz

YouTube video by Nerd Gamer: