One of my friends and Wabisabisole readers, Karen, shared a link with me about Rice Straw Animal Structures in the city of Niigata. Niigata is located in northern Japan. It is about a two-hour Shinkansen ride from Tokyo. 

After looking at the pictures included in the article, I felt compelled to see the monsters! The city uses rice straw or wara that is leftover from the rice harvest to decorate large wooden structures. 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the Wara Art Festival. The festival is over, but the creatures remain on display in Uwasekigata Park. 

I desired a liberty buddy for the trip. Sonia and I were able to coordinate our schedules and made the trip on 10/24/17. 

Our seats on the Shinkansen were on the second deck. I’ve never been on the double decker Shinkansen! 

After arriving in Niigata around 12:30, we grabbed a quick bite for lunch and then caught a local train to Echigo-sone Station. 

The train might have been the bumpiest train I have taken so far in Japan. It was clackety-clack the whole way! 40 minutes later, we were at the station and off the train. We hopped in the one and only taxi waiting outside the station. A 15-minute taxi ride later and we were finally at Uwasekigata Park. Time to find these amazing rice straw structures! It was a beautiful day! Do you spy the giant lion? 

They were so cool up close! 

There were four giant monsters total. A lion, bull, ape, and alligator. Next up was the bull! 

Me, grabbing the bull by the horns. 

It was a little apparent the animals had weathered a few storms over the last couple months. They were impressive none the less. Check out King Kong! 

Slapping King Kong on the tushy. 

The park was great. There was a nice running track – a 2.0 km course. The mountains provided a scenic backdrop. 

The last creature was the alligator. He was pretty cool. He was large enough to walk into and the straw was braided to add detail. 

Sonia helped me capturing the fun of the creatures and our afternoon adventures. It was a fun and unique experience perhaps only to be experienced in Japan. Thank you, Karen for sharing the article with me and inspiring our travels. I hope you enjoy reading and seeing our pictures!