He was born December 19, 1938, in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended Von Steuben Senior High School. An Adams House resident at Harvard, he was a member of the Band and served as jazz editor at WHRB; he received his A.B., cum laude in social relations, in 1961. Later he pursued an M.A. in sociology at the University of Hawaii.
In 1962 he produced Hawaii's first jazz festival for the Honolulu Advertiser and embarked on a career in the world of Hawaiian music and media. For many years he was involved in music, television, and video as executive producer in his own Honolulu-based production company, Nagatani & Associates, Inc.
He also taught fourth-grade English and mathematics, part-time, in an underperforming public elementary school in the city.
Devoted to University of Hawaii athletics since his graduate school days, when he volunteered as a publicist and statistician for the football team, he was the namesake of the Nagatani Academic Center for UH student-athletes.
He was survived by his wife, Patricia (Ryan), whom he married in 1980; a son, Anthony; a sister, Reiko Mrozik; and two brothers, Terry and Tad Kuroda.