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Steelband community stunned

Published: 
Friday, February 12, 2016

The killing by strangulation of Japanese-born steelband player Asami Nagakiya has stunned her family, friends and the entire steelband community.

A PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars tenor pan player since 2012, Nagakiya was found dead, still clad in her yellow two-piece Carnival costume, on Ash Wednesday morning. Her body was found wedged among the roots of a tree on the western  end of the Queen’s Park Savannah, not far from Queen’s Royal College. 

She was wearing a “Legacy” ID band and some jewellery. An autopsy yesterday ascertained she had been strangled.

Yesterday, businessman Larry Lai, a colleague who knew her for seven years, said she spoke English very well and had arrived in T&T with the ability to play pan, having learned the instrument while in Japan.

“She was a person who used to take the art of pan all over Asia. She fell in love with pan but we realised she had also fallen in love with T&T. She told me she used to work all year to save up to come to T&T to play for Carnival,” Lai told the T&T Guardian.

He said Nagakiya worked in the medical field and would always stay with friends when she came to T&T. Lai added: “This (death) is great shock to us since she was no stranger to T&T.”

Japanese colleagues based in T&T said Nagakiya was a professional musician who was very friendly and trusting and had made many local friends over the years.

Among the final pictures of her during Carnival Tuesday, which surfaced on social media yesterday, were several of her flashing a bright smile in her full yellow bejewelled costume with another female Japanese masquerader (from the same section) and a man who appears to be a T&T national. The man also appears at her side in another photo.

Several Silver Stars band members said yesterday  she played with groups of other Japanese nationals who often played with the band. One added that she had “passed through” the panyard on Carnival Tuesday. 

The band’s Facebook page displayed pictures of a smiling Asami with colleagues, friends and playing in the band in a fitting tribute yesterday and bandmates and friends held a prayer service in her memory at the panyard, Tragarete Road, Port-of-Spain last night.

PCS Nitrogen’s human resources division yesterday told the T&T Guardian the situation had saddened everyone.

In a statement, Silver Stars members and its Port-of-Spain management team, said: “We are truly heartbroken to have lost a member of our PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars family, one of our bright stars, and a loving friend. 

“Asami Nagakiya was a truly beautiful and gentle soul. We had the pleasure of Asami joining our steelband family in 2012. She fell in love with us and we loved her in return. 

“She was warm, friendly and always greeted you with her signature broad smile and a hug. Everyone loved Asami and there is not one person that has anything negative to say about her.”

It added: “Asami was one of our most dedicated players. She would practise diligently from early in the afternoon and remained at practice until it ended in order to perfect the tune.

“Her talent and hard work made her the excellent tenor player that she was. Asami would also be remembered for her generosity with craft and jewellery-making and the Japanese treats that she always brought back for everyone when she returned to Trinidad. 

“Asami had a special relationship with each and every person in the band. We always anticipated her arrival for every Carnival season and just before you know it that bright smile entered the panyard. 

“There are so many great memories over the years that we will cherish. We love and miss you Asami, it will never be the same without you. We will like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Asami Nagakiya in Japan, T&T and the rest of the world.”

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at a constituency event yesterday also confirmed Nagakiya’s death was a major problem for T&T’s image.