Japan City Guides: Glover House Nagasaki
Glover Garden グラバー園
The Glover Garden area in Nagasaki is a collection of western homes and buildings reassembled around the house of the Scottish entrepeneur Thomas Blake Glover (born Fraserburgh 1838 - died in Tokyo 1911).
Glover came to Japan at age 21 and never left. Glover worked in shipbuilding, coal, arms dealing and brewing, ultimately being awarded the Second Class Order of the Rising Sun. Glover supported the opposition to the Tokugawa regime and was well placed when they came into government in 1868.
The house and grounds of Glover Garden sit atop a hill that commands a view of the Nagasaki Bay and the entire city - and speak of a bygone era of fabulous luxury, when the area of Minami-yamate was a thriving foreign settlement. Indeed the house is believed to be the setting and inspiration for Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly.
Statue of Glover at Glover Garden Nagasaki
Buildings in the complex include the Former Mitsubishi No. 2 Dock House, a classic example of Meiji-era western-style architecture, dating from 1896.
Other meiji-period buildings include the Former House of the President of the Nagasaki District Court and the Former Walker House, the residence and garden of Robert N. Walker Jr (1851-1941), a drinks' magnate who produced "Banzai Cider" and "Banzai Lemonade" in co-operation with Glover and who was also active in the shipping industry.
The Former Ringer House, with its foundation stones brought from Vladivostok was built by Frederick Ringer (1840-1908) a British businessman with interests in the tea trade and construction in Japan.
The Former Alt House, is a mainly wooden home built for William Alt (1840-1905), a tea tycoon, who with his Japanese partner Kei Oura exported green tea from Kyushu to amass a considerable fortune.
Other places of interest in Glover Garden are the Statue of Tamaki Miura (1884-1946), a Japanese opera singer famous for her portrayal of the heroine Cio-Cio-San in Puccini's Madame Butterfly. Visitors can also admire the first asphalt road ever constructed in Japan along with the very first lawn tennis ever laid out in the country, complete with the original stone roller! The stone Old Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank Building is now a museum dedicated to Nagasaki's interractions with the West.
The centerpiece however is the Former Glover House, which is the oldest Western-style wooden building in Japan and has a fascinating display of some of Glover's furniture and personal effects including his walking stick and fishing rods. Glover lived in the house with his Japanese wife Tsuru, a former geisha, and his son from a former relationship, Tomisaburo. Tomisaburo was to lead a difficult life during World War II and committed suicide just weeks after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.
The price of admission to Glover Garden also includes entry to the Museum of Traditional Performing Arts which displays colorful floats and dragons used in the Kunchi Festival held annually in October.
Glover's western style house at Glover Garden
Glover Garden is located close to Ouratenshudoshita tram stop on tram line #5 in the south of the city close to Oranda-zaka (Dutch Slope), the Oura Catholic Church and the Confucius Shrine.
The pleasant gardens at Glover Garden, Nagasaki
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