In Japan’s Niigata prefecture, cooler weather marks the advent of enormous straw creatures materializing from the fields and stalking the changing landscape. Every year around the rice harvest, art students repurpose the crop’s leftover straw, or wara, into mammoth characters for the Wara Art Festival. Recent editions have brought dragons, a bonsai-like tree, and the widely popular maneki-neko, or beckoning cat, to the autumn terrain.
On view now at Uwasekigata Park, this year’s festival is themed Echigo no Umi, or Sea of Echigo. Several works envision marine creatures that would emerge from the water or fly above its surface, including an octopus with raised tentacles, diving dolphins, and a crested ibis, which, according to Spoon & Tamago, is said to have a symbiotic relationship with the sea.
If you’re in Niigata, you can see the thatched beasts through the end of October. Otherwise, check out the works in the 2021 edition on Colossal.
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