A New Take on Recycling with Eco Animals Born from Scrap Wood

Tako
2023/01/19

This photo of a wolf made from scrap wood that’s big and sturdy enough to hold a full grown man created a buzz on Japanese Twitter garnering over 28,000 likes and 4,000 retweets.  

The name of this scrap wood masterpiece is “Himorogi (神籬)”, which means “a sacred place where kami (God) resides” or “an animal occupied by kami”. This Great Wolf God received many visitors, around 450, for the 4 days it was displayed as part of an exhibition. So, who is the creator of this wonderful piece of work? 

Scrap Wood Artist, Seiya Kaji

Introducing scrap wood artist, Seiya Kaji (加治 聖哉), born in 1996 hails from Murakami City, Niigata prefecture. After graduating from Nagaoka Institute of Design, he joined contemporary art trading company Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., but has since become an independent artist who makes life-sized animals out of scrap wood

The concept for his works is a beautiful one: 

役目を終え、死んでしまった「廃材」たちに、もう一度「生命」を吹き込む 
Breathing “life” into “scrap wood” after it has served its purpose. 

Why scrap wood? 

 

In a long post, Seiya Kaji explains why he chose “scrap wood” as his choice of material. He starts with explaining what scrap wood is:  

世間一般的には「不要なものとして廃棄された材木・材料」とされています。
しかし私はそうは思いません。廃材とは「可能性」です。
[Scrap wood is] generally what the world considers as “timber and materials that have been discarded as unnecessary”.  But I don’t think so. Scrap wood is “potential”
Believing in the potential of scrap wood, he gives the scrap wood, that has completed its role and “died”, a new form and vessel and thus breathes life into them to once again play another role in this world. This time as art. 

ある人にとっては不必要になったものも別な人にとっては必要なものかもしれません。
What is unnecessary to one man, may be necessary to another.

Or, as we say, “one man’s trash is another’s treasure”. Seiya Kaji sources his scrap wood from leftover materials when building a house or other wood projects, such as from construction workers or carpenters who will discard them. He goes on to explain that though some of the materials need to be thrown away, the majority of them can be used for a long time.

廃材の"可能性"は無限です。
これからもその"可能性"をお見せできたらと思います。
The “potential” of waste materials is endless.
From here on, I hope we can continue to show you their potential.

Seiya Kaji’s scrap wood sculptures are not simply for show, they are a unique and eco-friendly method that combines art and recycling. 

大量生産・大量消費の時代が続く中で廃材を利用することは、長い目で見れば次の世代により良い世界を受け渡すことに繋がるのではないでしょうか。
In this age of mass production and mass consumption, using waste materials may, in the long run, lead to a better world for the next generation. 

Truly inspiring words from an artist with big dreams. 

Large-Scale Animals

Let’s look at some of Seiya Kaji’s large-scale animal masterpieces.

Before & After - “Himorogi (神籬)”

One of the best ways to appreciate Seiya Kaji’s work is seeing the before & after images. It is amazing to see what he can do with random wood scraps and wooden crates. As he exclaims in this post, “from scrap to God”. 

Before & After - “Tora (寅)”

Another before & after comparison, this time of an impressive tiger. Somehow, he has managed to recreate the gentle tread of a tiger stalking its prey despite having a lean muscular physique. This wooden sculpture is also rideable too, apparently.

Kirin (麒麟)

Kirin is a mythical creature in Chinese and Japanese mythology that symbolizes greatness. This project carries Seiya Kaji’s hopes for the end of Corona, and for a peaceful world. This marvelous sculpture of a Kirin rearing on its hind legs has a dimension of 3580 x 2260 x 1420. 

Peacock 

A peacock with tail feathers spread open like a fan. Materials used to make this sculpture include bamboo scraps from other assignments, disposable chopsticks, toothpicks, match stems, and construction scraps. 

Humpback Whale

It took around 4 months to complete the humpback whale project with Seiya Kaji doing 99.9% of the work. Have a look at this video of the making process. It looks like a lot of work! 

And here, we have the final result. With a size of around 20 m, this was his largest project by far. Unfortunately, as this was an outdoor project, it was scrapped in winter 2020 after being drenched in snow. He hopes to reserve the spot again for another project so we are looking forward to that! 

Smaller Pieces

Seiya Kaji also makes smaller pieces of scrap wood sculptures. And, not one to rest on his laurels, he is also open to trying new things!

Life-Sized Penguin

A life-sized magellanic penguin made entirely from scrap materials. 

He received permission from Joetsu Aquarium Umigatari to take this photo with the real penguins! They must be so confused at this intruder. What’s amazing is that it feels like the wooden penguin has its own personality?! 

Rabbit for Year of the Rabbit 2023

This would make for a great table-top decoration to welcome an auspicious new year. 

Roses

Roses made from plane shavings. Not simply for decoration, it can be used as an aroma diffuser. The rose stalks are reed diffusers, so you can add aromatherapy oil into the vase to scent the flowers and freshen up your room! 

Also amazed at the potential of plane shavings, Seiya Kaji says in the post that he will continue to explore the possibilities. 

Wall Art 

Seiya Kaji also took up the challenge of making wall art pieces with scrap wood. This one is my favourite. 

He also tried his hand at this specimen-type framed dragonfly. Amazingly, he successfully recreated the delicateness of a dragonfly’s wings with plane shavings. Potential in everything? I've been convinced. This is his piece of this kind of work, so hopefully there will be more forthcoming.

Current Long-Term Project

Browsing through Seiya Kaji’s wood scrap artwork has changed the perception of many people about what art can be. His ability to see potential in what people consider waste and unnecessary is beautiful and a rarity in this world. And luckily for us, he has decided to share it with us. 

Right at this moment, Seiya Kaji is working on a huge project involving scrap wood sardines. For this project, he will make 1 sardine a day until he reaches 10,000, the final number required for the complete project. To keep count of his sardines, he posts a photo of the day’s sardine on Twitter and Facebook. 

 

今日のイワシ 1908匹目 残り8092匹

Posted by 加治聖哉 on Wednesday, January 18, 2023

At the time of writing, he has finished 1908, and has 8092 to go! So, 22 years to go? 

To Close

Aside from personal projects and projects for exhibitions, Seiya Kaji also does order made sculptures for businesses who want a unique one-of-a-kind decor. He is also open to teaching people the craft of art work sculpting with workshops. Enquiries can be made through his official website. 

For more of Seiya Kaji’s marvellous works and to follow the progress of his ongoing sardine project, follow his social media! 

Photos provided courtesy of Seiya Kaji 加治 聖哉 (Official Website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter).

Writer

Tako
Hailed from Malaysia, living in Tokyo. Anime, manga, travel, and food lover. Just doing my best to survive. 一生懸命生きています。

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