Wara Art in Niigata, Japan

The rural, coastal Niigata prefecture in Northern Japan is known for its wealth of rice paddies, which produce a rich harvest each fall. After the rice is harvested and the grain extracted, a huge amount of rice straw is leftover, called wara.

Instead of going to waste, the excess wara is reused in many ways: for roofs, fertilizer, livestock feed, and, historically, to make various goods before it was replaced by more modern materials. In the region's capital city, Niigata, it's put to an...

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