UNS – Japanese Study Center (Pusat Studi Jepang – PSJ) Institute of Research and Community Engagement (Lembaga Penelitian dan Pengabdian kepada Masyarakat – LPPM) Universitas Sebelas Maret (UNS) Surakarta held a webinar entitled ‘Product Design Thinking: Straw Culture in Japan and Java’ on Friday (15/5/2020). The webinar is PSJ UNS monthly program during COVID-19 pandemic. The second webinar conducted by PSJ UNS invited faculty member of Interior Design Program Faculty of Art and Design (FSRD) UNS, Pandu Purwandaru, Ph.D., as the main speaker.
Straw as a part of paddy stem after the grains were harvested has special meaning for Japanese people. Prof. Prof Kiyoshi Miyazaki, former chairman of the Japanese Society for the Science of Design once said that straw is a kind of grass that has a similar value to wood.
“In Japan, straw is used to support daily life. Here, if we see the kanji for straw is ‘wara’ there are symbolic elements of wood, height, and grass. According to Prof. Kiyoshi, straw is a type of grass that has similar value as wood and has a high functional value,” Pandu opened his speech.
Pandu who graduated from Chiba University, Japan, stated that the Japanese uses the terms: ‘mottainai’, ‘moushiwakenai’, and ‘wara mo moshitara wara wareru’ in utilizing straw.
“There is ‘mottainai’ related to waste (it)s essentially shameful to waste something. Then ‘moushiwakenai’ is more related to guilt. There is regret concerned straw because wasting a gift from nature. Japanese people have a term ‘wara mo moshitara wara wareru’ which means when you burn straw the straw will laugh,” he continued.
Different from Japan, the Javanese community tend to view straw concerning the mythological component related to the ‘wiwitan’(beginning) tradition in Dewi Sri story. The Javanese community in the past highly respected the figure of Dewi Sri who was believed to be the goddess of agriculture, rice, rice fields, and fertility.
On this occasion, Pandu also explained the difference between paddy harvesting in Japan and Java.
“Before the green revolution (the harvest) still used ani-ani in Java and harvest performed twice, the upper part and cut stem until the stump. While in Japan it is cut once at the stump and then dried for 10-14 days after that the grains are collected. And after that in the ‘sayawara’ process after (straw) is separated from rice and after grains are separated from its petals is ‘warasuguri’ (it) can be used to make roof and house,” explained Pandu.
Besides roofing, straw also can be used to create ‘ecofish’ that can filter residual and waste in the river/sewer. Pandu implement this by creating ‘ecofish’ with Junior High School students in Japan.
“There is an interesting development that I want to convey. Straw Ecofish is made to look like a fish, filled with burned husk (we made it) with the Junior High School students to educate them about straw materials. The ecofish is floated in the dirty river and is very effective to absorb residual and cleaning water flow. One ‘ecofish’ can absorb residuals up to twice its weight. And, if it is burned it can be used as fertilizer so it is sustainable,” Pandu said.
The discussion was interactive. Participants came from several cities in Java island. At least 12 participants asked questions about the sustainability of straw products in Java. The event moderator was Dr. Eng Kusumaningdyah, N.H, ST., MT (Chief of Japanese Study Center UNS), indirectly has developed an interest to develop a partnership with people who are interested in the straw culture and product. It is expected that collaboration will be developed in the future. This event was managed by PSJ UNS in partnership with Interior Product Design Research Group, Interior Design Program – Faculty of Art and Design UNS and Urban-Rural Design and Conservation Laboratory (URDC Labo) Architectural Engineering Program, Faculty of Engineering, UNS. Humas UNS/Yefta