Sep 16, 2011

Meet Mr. Hayato Sugiyama and his Adorable Clay Bells Near Lake Tazawa

Mr. Hayato Sugiyama is a local artist who creates most beautiful and adorable clay bells at his studio near Lake Tazawa. In his tiny studio in the middle of rice paddies, he welcomes the visiters with his "Friends of the North" -- and that's what the name of his studio "Kita-no-Nakamatachi" means.

He shares inspiring stories about his rural life in Ishigami Area, where the traditional culture is well passed on through generations. He is also one of the most knowledgeable persons about Lake Tazawa, who have been frequently interviewed for a newspaper and magazines.

His works have been gaining popularity in recent years. Each piece is uniquely hand-made -- even some of similar designs are created with slightly different colorings and decorations. Many people seek for it and collect them in groups.

Each one is unique and handmade by Mr. Sugiyama!

Mr. Sugiyama was born and raised in this community. "All my life," he says, "my passion was painting. I was a trained skiier and pretty good athlete. Still, I always wanted to go back to the creative activity. At the age of 21, I had my solo exhibition. I was learning about Modern Art at that time. But back then, I did not really appreciate its concept, which seemed very complex to understand its philosophical aspect. Not until my later years that I started to truly grow understanding and appreciation of it. Now, to me, philosophy lays at the core of my life. That is what I try to pursue and express through my works."

His works are themed in animals and nature. He creates both popular characters of animals like cats, owls, and dogs, as well as some closely related to cultural traditions like rabbits, dragons, horses, etc.

All of them look as cute as it could be with the impressive colors and happy facial expressions. However, every little detail has its own meaning; the waves (to overcome in life), the mirrored character (), the golden ball (to bring good fortune), etc.

A set of 12 Chinese Zodiac signs. You can get a single piece as well.

Some go as a pair: Oga Peninsula's Namahage, Hina-ningyo, and Black Cats.

Some crosscultural themes as well.
How real they look! Mr. Sugiyama says it symbolizes the life cycle.

He displays his friends' works as well. These kneedleworks are of his mothers.

With the background story that he tells in depth, you would understand that the symbols are meaningful altogether. You would be so captivated by its preciousness and would feel as if the artist has breathed life into it.

Wouldn't that be a perfect present?  If you ask him, he can write your name or your friend's name on the piece. He will give you a piece of paper that explains the whole background story!

Why don't you stop by and have a wonderful time with Mr. Sugiyama and his friends?

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