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Japan

Published on February 22nd, 2016 | by www.paradisepulse.com

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The Japanese Girl and her Steelpan

There is this old Japanese folktale that tells the story of two frogs who lived at the opposite ends of Japan and who wanted to see what was beyond their home towns. The two frogs decided one day to leave their homes and explore the world beyond their imaginations. They hopped across the country – passing each other along their journeys on the mountain tops – and when arriving at the opposite ends of Japan, they would realize that it was all very similar – it looked just like their home. They thought that all of the world was the same and the two frogs held on to this belief until they died. I am here to tell you another story today – about a beautiful Japanese girl who travelled half-way across the world with her steel drum and found a place very similar to her home – just like these two frogs.

Her name: Asami Nagakiya.

Born with musicality entrenched in her heartbeat, Asami treasured her culture back in Japan and the traditional instruments she studied to play at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music, but her love for the Trinidad-born instrument steelpan would triumph over all others. Steelpan’s exportation to Japan could be traced back to as far as 1992 when the late icon Jit Samaroo travelled to the Republic with his band Samaroo Jets, winning the hearts of a new audience and a whole new world. In 1995, in the town of Fukuno, Samaroo and his band was invited to be part of the Sukiyaki Meet the World ’95 programme where they performed some of their most-celebrated and treasured compositions for a live audience. This festival in Fukuno also commemorated the start of a steelpan playing course in Japan.

The celebration and study of the steelpan continued in Japan in the years to come after this, attracting many performers – including a rhythmic Asami. In 2012, Asami would land in Trinidad for the first time along with some of her pan-loving comrades from Japan.  Their mission would be to play in the Panorama finals. Some played with Phase II, others with Starlift and Desperadoes, but Asami’s heart led her to the two-time winning Panorama champs- PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars Steel Orchestra.

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