Again, there was a rocky, serrated peak, Hodaka, looming over the hut. Smoke and I clamored up the several hundred feet and enjoyed seeing mountains far to the horizon. He had made sure that I had brought my pipes to the top. I played to the peaks and the few Japanese also at the top.
When I finished the tune, we heard yells and noise from a group down below outside the hut. Had I gone too far and disturbed the tranquility of the Japanese Alps? A friendly Japanese man at the top set me straight and offered the information in English. He said they were yelling the equivalent of “encore” in Japanese! Surprised at such an overt reaction and pleased with the positive response, I complied and played another tune.
On top of a Japanese peak, I played to the crowd below at the hut.
That night in the hut, fifty or so guests sat down to a tasty traditional Japanese dinner of pickled vegetables, soup, and various other dishes served, as always, in a very attractive, appealing manner. While we were eating, I felt an unexpected tap on my shoulder. “Were you the one playing bagpipes today?” came the inquiry in a very strong Scottish brogue. Scottish brogue?
I confirmed that I had been. He looked incredibly relieved. “I was hiking over here from another hut on the backside and heard the familiar sounds of home when I was some two miles away. I thought I was going daft. I couldn’t imagine bagpipes in the mountains of Japan.” He went on. “When I arrived, the sound had stopped, but I asked a hiker if he had seen someone playing a musical instrument. When he said yes and pointed you out, I was very relieved.” I assured him he was not going daft, but that a crazy American female had decided to see what affect Scottish Highland bagpipes would have on the Japanese.
We talked for a bit, and I found out that he had been born and raised in Scotland and was teaching English in Japan for a year. He was burned out from teaching and was glad to be able to spend some time in these wonderful mountains. He hadn’t had much of an opportunity to really see Japan.
We were to meet him again on our travels several days later at a different hut. He had taken a different route. Smoke and I scrambled up the craggy peak on the other side of the hut the next morning. I played the pipes again, as our Scotsman hiked off into the distance.
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