Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 13th 2016 Contents A11
Saturday, February 13, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Asami Nagakiya, although Japanese by
birth, considered herself Trinidadian in her
heart after falling in love with T&T s culture
and its national instrument, the steelpan.
A professional musician, Nagakiya decided
to take the steelpan back with her to Japan
a few years ago where she introduced it to
her friends in the music industry. She also
formed her own Japanese band, featuring
the steelpan. Nagakiya was from Sapporo-
shi, Hokkaido, in Japan.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian on
Thursday, John Charles, of the T&T Japan
Exchange Company Ltd, said it was he who
took Nagakiya and a group of friends, includ-
ing Keiichiro Asato, to the Silver Stars panyard
"It was only mind-blowing to see how
Asami and her friends accepted T&T s culture
right then and there in the panyard. I remem-
bered seeing her and her friends brought to
tears when they heard the sweet tunes of
the pan as the members practised," Charles
"Asami was an accomplished musician.
Being a composer, a writer and reader of
music, she immediately fell in love with the
pan and started playing during that practice
session and that was it. She always vowed
to return to T&T every year for pan thereafter."
Charles even disclosed that Nagakiya was
instrumental in introducing the steelpan to
her native Japan.
"She became an unofficial musical ambas-
sador to T&T back in Japan, in her own
rights. She had her own band and she intro-
duced her skills and knowledge to music stu-
dents in schools there. Last year, she accom-
panied a full steelband from Japan to T&T
for the international Panorama competition,"
He said after being instrumental in bringing
Nagakiya to Trinidad in 2011, she funded her
own return to T&T every year after that but
would always keep in constant contact with
"My emotions are running high at this
time but I will always remember her to be
quiet and humble. I would always remember
her passion for T&T s culture and her uncon-
ditional love for the steelpan music," Charles
Asked how he thinks Nagakiya s murder
would affect the T&T/Japan relationship,
Charles replied: "The Japanese community
here is a very tight-knit one and they all
know each other. It is a huge blow to the
relationship but I will continue to try my
best to keep on fostering and building on
future relations between T&T and Japan."
This year, Nagakiya arrived here on January
7 and immediately made her way to the Silver
Stars base on Tragarete Road, Woodbrook,
to begin practice for the 2016 Panorama
competition. This year was her first playing
One of Nagakiya s friends from Japan, who
asked not to be identified when contacted,
said she wanted to believe her death was not
"It is a lie. It can t be true. It just can t
be. Asami, we love you and we want you to
wake up and come home to Japan," she said.
One of Nagakiya s local friends, who also
played pan with her and also wished
anonymity, described her as a T&T patri-
"Asami was so deep in love with the cul-
ture, even more than the people who born
and grew up here. She was a true Trinidadian
to the bone and heart. Asami could not wait
for Carnival here.
"We last played together on Carnival Mon-
day as we ushered in the J Ouvert celebrations.
We played all day and she took many pictures
and videos of us playing. Asami was a vessel
full of joy.
"We never knew that her life would have
been snuffed out so sudden. I never knew
this year would have been her last year with
us. From now on, every stroke I play on the
pan would be for Asami s memory."
From Page A10
He said he hoped "they find whoever did this."
When proceedings ended and most people left,
Mayor Tim Kee arrived around 10.15 pm. He spoke
to several people---explaining his position on con-
troversial remarks which he said had been taken
out of context before approaching Silver Stars offi-
His arrival did not sit well with some band
members who, during testimonials, had expressed
anger at his reported remarks. There were some
frowns as he entered. Several people shifted to
another part of the band yard.
Tim Kee was at pains to explain his position on
the reported remarks, saying statements he had
made some time ago in the past on lewd behaviour
in Carnival had been juxtaposed with comments
he had made when asked on Wednesday by
reporters about Nagakiya s death.
"I m known to be a respecter and lover of
women---that s my history. I love my grandmother,
my mother, my sister, my two daughters. The peo-
ple I feel the most comfortable with are women...I
would not have said anything like what is being
misconstrued about me, the young lady was a
visitor to T&T, and I appreciated that."
Tim Kee said he was very upset by what hap-
pened to Nagakiya which had moved him to sad-
"Here was a young lady who came all the way
from Japan to join our Carnival celebrations and
for her to pass this way is sad. It is something I
hope law enforcement agencies are dealing with
feverishly and I hope the punishment and legal
process will be quick and serve as a deterrent for
anyone thinking along the lines of what occurred."
Friends mourn murder of Japanese pan player...
'She was a vessel of joy'
Tim Kee explains
out of context
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