The annual Wara Art Festival is famous worldwide thanks to amazing sculptures made of rice straw. The event takes place every October at Niigata prefecture, in Northern Japan, which has a lot of rice fields, The new tradition was born in 2006, when local officials decided to do something with rice straw left from harvesting the field and asked Musashino Art University for advice. Art students created the first sculptures, and that's how the idea of the Wara Art Festival was born!
Wara means straw in Japanese. Traditionally it's used in Japan as a fertilizer, to feed animals, and make crafts and decorative ornaments. Every October, Uwasekigata Park in Niigata is transformed into a wonderland, full of mystic creatures: cats, lions, gorillas, crocodiles, rhinoceroses, and Japanese folk characters. You can see a traditional pine tree symbolizing longevity, or Qilin, a fantasy creature, similar to a unicorn, which is popular in Asian mythology. The festival takes place for one day in early October. However, the sculptures remain on display during the whole month.
Niigata City is the capital of Niigata Prefecture and the most populous city on the west coast of Honshu island. The area is famous for its agriculture. It's home to the largest rice paddy field in Japan.