The artist Tsuyoshi Hayatsu was born in Muikamachi in 1938. For the past 40 years he has been painting traditional houses in Snow Country, and across the whole of Japan. These traditional buildings, often with thatched roofs have been disappearing from the countryside but still live on thanks to the hundreds of canvases Mr. Hayatsu has painted.
Since 1987 he has been displaying his works in the Hayatsu Gallery in Koide. The main room has a series of rotating images selected by season from his vast collection of works over the years. He has a store room with all the canvases coded by color for each different area. It is rather sad to know that the majority of the subjects of those pictures no longer exist.
He also has an impressive array of different styles of pottery from all over the country each with its own distinct characteristics and purpose. It is a small gallery but fascinating none-the-less.
He says that it is getting more and more difficult to find these old buildings, whose construction and thatching, once common skills, are becoming increasingly scarce. He would love to find more but it is a challenge to locate them. He has always worked on site, and each painting has been carefully crafted while he has stood there, not recreated from a photograph. This is impressive given the number of winter works in his portfolio. He prefers to work in black and white with ink now as there is much less to carry around. We were lucky enough to watch him sketch Meguro-tei in the snow on a beautiful spring day. He apologised for the quality of the finished product, even though it looked amazing to us, as he had to dash it off in the short time available.
If you are in the Koide area it is worth dropping in. You are guaranteed a warm welcome, and a glimpse of the traditional country life that is getting harder and harder to find.