Bagpipes are kind of exotic instrument in Japan but there is one small town in the land of the rising sun where you can not only drink a good whiskey distilled according to Scottish tradition but will also hear bagpipes quite regularly. This is due to the fact that Yoichicyo in the prefecture Hokkaido is the twin sister of Bishopbriggs in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland.
Most people in Japan know bagpipe sounds from video games or animations focusing on Europes Middle Age. So Masashi Takazawa was lucky to have a co-worker by the name of Yoshiaki Gosha who played a real bagpipe and is one of the few top bagpipe players in Japan with his band CELTECHADENZA. Masashi was addicted to the sound from the beginning. Music had been a hobby for him since he learned the piano at the age of 5. Later Masashi also started to play some guitar and drums. Finally he decided to also learn the bagpipe and Yoshiaki recommended to him that he should try with an electronic bagpipe knowing that from ten people that take private lessons on acoustic bagpipes nine would give up within the first year. As most of Japanese players Masashi had to learn by himself as there are only a few places where bagpipes are taught. He googled to find the right instrument for him and came to the conclusion that the redpipe Caledonia would be perfect for him as he loves the Great Highland Bagpipe. Knowing that some of his personal bagpipe idols like Stuart Cassells (founder of the Red Hot Chil Pipers), Münggu Drachentöter and Gwendolen Rowe from Celtica also had chosen the redpipe he ordered one and started to practice. In the meantime Masashi is busy with a project called ‘Project Mian’ consisting of him with his Caledonia and a young female fiddle player. ‘Mian’ is the Gaelic word for ‘hope’ and Masashi smiles and says: „When playing an instrument you can have the chance and hope to meet young ladies even if you are a man in the fourties.“ Other projects are the collaboration with an oriental dance team called Fareesha and an Irish dance project. It was easy for Masashi to get offers since he played his electronic bagpipe. „In my country, there is a potential demand of bagpipes but unfortunately people give up because they are hard to learn.“ What he likes most with the redpipes is the fact that he can play any location as he does not has to worry about volume or tuning. He also likes to add effect pedals like guitarists use to do. But the biggest advantage is that with a 440 Hz tuning and the freedom to choose the key he is able to play with other musicians without any restrictions. So maybe we will hear more of Japanese bagpipe players in the future with busy pioneers like Masashi paving the way.