The Wonders of the Good Old Days: Glover Garden, Nagasaki

With the reopening of the port to Westerners in the latter half of the 19th century, Nagasaki flowered as a prosperous and sophisticated international city. Suitable housing was required for the sudden influx of foreigners who made their homes here. Many of the comfortable stone and clapboard residencies that were built during this period survive today, preserved in the Glover Garden, overlooking Nagasaki harbor. The best-known European-style residence here is the Glover House. Built in 1863, it was the setting for Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly.

Born in Scotland, Thomas Glover came to Nagasaki in 1859 at the age of 21, when the ports were opened. In Nagasaki he established the Glover Trading Company. Glover was generous in his support of young people, and in the tumultuous final years of the Edo Shogunate, he secretly supported royalist revolutionaries and assisted in sending members of the Satsuma clan to study in Great Britain. After the Meiji Restoration, Glover was a business leader and made great contributions towards the introduction of modern technologies in Japan. Because of his brown eyes and red face, Glover earned the nickname ‘Red Demon’ from the workers of his in the coal mine. However, Glover was bold and warmhearted, and showed great affection for his employees. He was kind towards his family, and made a happy household together with his Japanese wife Tsuru. Glover lived a harmonious life in Japan until he passed away in 1911, at 73 years of age.

Thomas Glover, who was responsible for bringing the first steam locomotive to Japan, was an extraordinary British entrepreneur whose ventures included coal mining, a tea import house, ship repair yards, and the founding of a beer company, the forerunner of today’s Kirin Beer.

We took a stroll through the historic good old days at Glover Garden in Nagasaki, Japan. Take a look at some of the wonders that we discovered here in this beautiful, westernized city.

Entrance to the Glover Gardens.
Entrance to the Glover Gardens.
Japanese gardens on the Glover grounds.
Japanese gardens on the Glover grounds.
Statue of Glover.
Statue of Glover.
300-Year-Old Sago Palm! This Sago palm is located in the garden of the Former Glover residence. The lord of Satsuma Province is believed to have given this tree to Glover as thanks for Glover's efforts to aid the Satsuma Clan through shipbuilding and negotiation. At 300 years, it is one of the oldest Sago palms in Japan.
300-Year-Old Sago Palm! This Sago palm is located in the garden of the Former Glover residence. The lord of Satsuma Province is believed to have given this tree to Glover as thanks for Glover’s efforts to aid the Satsuma Clan through shipbuilding and negotiation. At 300 years, it is one of the oldest Sago palms in Japan.
Former Glover House. The oldest Western-style wooden building in Japan, built in 1863. The clover-shaped architecture, with no formal main entrance, brings to mind a bungalow from some southern country. Inside the house, a variety of artifacts are on display, including Glover's favorite walking stick, adorned with a sculpture of a dog, and portraits of Glover and his wife, Tsuru.
Former Glover House. The oldest Western-style wooden building in Japan, built in 1863. The clover-shaped architecture, with no formal main entrance, brings to mind a bungalow from some southern country. Inside the house, a variety of artifacts are on display, including Glover’s favorite walking stick, adorned with a sculpture of a dog, and portraits of Glover and his wife, Tsuru.
Landscaping around the Glover house.
Landscaping around the Glover house.

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View of Nagasaki Harbor from the Glover residence.
View of Nagasaki Harbor from the Glover residence.
It was an absolutely gorgeous fall day! Another view of the harbor.
It was an absolutely gorgeous fall day! Another view of the harbor.

Entering inside the former Glover residence:

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Greenhouse inside the Glover Residence.
Image of Gaurdian-Lion dog used for Kirin Beer Label. Glover started a beer company called the Japan Brewery Company. It is said that the charming stone guardian lion-dog sitting next to the greenhouse was the model for the picture of the Kirin, used on the label. And maybe the Kirin's mustache was based on Glover's...
Image of Gaurdian-Lion dog used for Kirin Beer Label. Glover started a beer company called the Japan Brewery Company. It is said that the charming stone guardian lion-dog sitting next to the greenhouse was the model for the picture of the Kirin, used on the label. And maybe the Kirin’s mustache was based on Glover’s…

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Glover with the famous Admiral Togo in 1905 (center).
Picture of Glover's wife, Tsuru.
Picture of Glover’s wife, Tsuru.
View from the inside, outward.
View from the inside, outward.
The mirror you can't see yourself in. The majority of people who stand in front of this mirror can't even see their faces. The mirror must have actually not been installed to show people, but rather illuminate the room.
The mirror you can’t see yourself in. The majority of people who stand in front of this mirror can’t even see their faces. The mirror must have actually not been installed to show people, but rather illuminate the room.
There is a doorway in the ceiling of the corridor near Glover's room. If you go up the ladder (which we couldn't) there are two rooms in the attic. Those hidden rooms are assumed to have been used to hide the young loyalists who visited the Glover residence.
There is a doorway in the ceiling of the corridor near Glover’s room. If you go up the ladder (which we couldn’t) there are two rooms in the attic. Those hidden rooms are assumed to have been used to hide the young loyalists who visited the Glover residence. Glover backed groups looking to overthrow the Shogunate, such as the Satsuma and Choshu Domains, breaking state prohibitions to smuggle Satsuma youth into Britain on his own ship and selling large quantities of weapons to Choshu.
The bricks used for the kitchen floor of the former Glover house were thinner than regular bricks, with a shape just like that of konnyaku, a gelatin-like food used in Japanese cooking. Thanks to the fact that these bricks are piled on top of each other, they are apparently quite strong.
The bricks used for the kitchen floor of the former Glover house were thinner than regular bricks, with a shape just like that of konnyaku, a gelatin-like food used in Japanese cooking. Thanks to the fact that these bricks are piled on top of each other, they are apparently quite strong.
Stable area outside of Glover residence.
Stable area outside of Glover residence.

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The opera "Madame Butterfly" set in Nagasaki, is counted among one of the three greatest operas of the world. Here is a statue of the creator of that opera, Giacomo Puccini.
The opera “Madame Butterfly” set in Nagasaki, is counted among one of the three greatest operas of the world. Here is a statue of the creator of that opera, Giacomo Puccini.
Real turtle resting on a turtle in the pond by the statues :)
Real turtle resting on a turtle in the pond by the statues 🙂
Former "Jiyu-Tei" restaurant. The Jiyu-Tei opened around the end of the Edo period in front of Irabayashi Shrine as Japan's first Western-style restaurant. Currently, on the second floor is a tea and coffee shop.
Former “Jiyu-Tei” restaurant. The Jiyu-Tei opened around the end of the Edo period in front of Irabayashi Shrine as Japan’s first Western-style restaurant. Currently, on the second floor is a tea and coffee shop.
Sitting area outside the tea house.
Sitting area outside the tea house.
Former Walker House. The residence of British businessman Robert Neill Walker's second son. Built in the middle of the Meiji era, Japanese taste is reflected in details such as the Japanese-style eaves protruding from the roof.
Former Walker House. The residence of British businessman Robert Neill Walker’s second son. Built in the middle of the Meiji era, Japanese taste is reflected in details such as the Japanese-style eaves protruding from the roof.
View of inside the Walker's former residence.
View of inside the Walker’s former residence.
Fountain of Prayers.
Fountain of Prayers.

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Up close of the fountain.
Up close of the fountain.
View of top of fountain with Nagasaki harbor in the rear view.
View of top of fountain with Nagasaki harbor in the rear view.
Fall colors!
Fall colors!
Former Mitsubishi No.2 Dock House. The "dock house" was once a facility where ship crews could rest  while their ship was at a shipyard for repairs. In this typical Western-style building constructed in 1896, 8 pillars above and below the veranda provide support.
Former Mitsubishi No.2 Dock House. The “dock house” was once a facility where ship crews could rest while their ship was at a shipyard for repairs. In this typical Western-style building constructed in 1896, 8 pillars above and below the veranda provide support.
Gorgeous view of Nagasaki from the veranda of the dock house.
Gorgeous view of Nagasaki from the veranda of the dock house.
Takashima-style Cannon. This old Japan made cannon is said to be produced by a gunsmith Seizo Nogawa under the supervision of Nagasaki-born gun designer, artillery tatician Syuhan Takashima.
Takashima-style Cannon. This old Japan made cannon is said to be produced by a gunsmith Seizo Nogawa under the supervision of Nagasaki-born gun designer, artillery tatician Syuhan Takashima.

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Gate of the Freemasons' Lodge. This was used at the gate pillar stone for the entrance of a residence owned by a British family who lived in Nagasaki. On this pillar stone, the mark of the Freemasons (stoneworker), a group with British origins, is carved.
Gate of the Freemasons’ Lodge. This was used at the gate pillar stone for the entrance of a residence owned by a British family who lived in Nagasaki. On this pillar stone, the mark of the Freemasons (stoneworker), a group with British origins, is carved.
Former Ringer House. A bungalow-style house encompassed by a veranda on three sides, built at the beginning of the Meiji era. The stone veranda floor is granite brought over from Vladivostok, while Amakusa stone was used for the pillars supporting the veranda roof. Wood and stone find harmony together in this remarkable wooden-framed stone building.
Former Ringer House. A bungalow-style house encompassed by a veranda on three sides, built at the beginning of the Meiji era. The stone veranda floor is granite brought over from Vladivostok, while Amakusa stone was used for the pillars supporting the veranda roof. Wood and stone find harmony together in this remarkable wooden-framed stone building.
This is thought to be the oldest asphalt road in Japan, which was built by Thomas Glovers' son Tomisaburo kuraba. It seems there was also once a tennis court nearby.
This is thought to be the oldest asphalt road in Japan, which was built by Thomas Glovers’ son Tomisaburo kuraba. It seems there was also once a tennis court nearby.
Frederick Ringer built Japan's first tennis courts in the gounds of his house in the early years of the Meiji era. Many games of tennis were here by Glover's son and the other second generation foreign merchants. This is the stone roller that was used on the courts.
Frederick Ringer built Japan’s first tennis courts in the gounds of his house in the early years of the Meiji era. Many games of tennis were here by Glover’s son and the other second generation foreign merchants. This is the stone roller that was used on the courts.
A beautiful view of part of our walk through the Glover grounds.
A beautiful view of part of our walk through the Glover grounds.
Former Alt Residence. The largest stone-built Western-style house remaining in Nagasaki. It was designed and constructed by Koyama Hide. This residence is a wonderfully ornate building, with a gable-roofed porch jutting out towards the harbor and a wide veranda supported by pillars made from Amakusa pottery stone.
Former Alt Residence. The largest stone-built Western-style house remaining in Nagasaki. It was designed and constructed by Koyama Hide. This residence is a wonderfully ornate building, with a gable-roofed porch jutting out towards the harbor and a wide veranda supported by pillars made from Amakusa pottery stone.
Side view.
Side view.
Rose from a rose bush out front.
Rose from a rose bush out front.
Front view.
Front view.
A taste of the elaborate inside.
A taste of the elaborate inside.
Beautiful arches and stained glass pieces.
Beautiful arches and stained glass pieces.
Former Steele Memorial School. This mission school was built in the hills of Higashi-Yamate in 1887. Its first floor has a photograph of the Glover family and "Glover Encyclopedia," which is one of Japan's four major encyclopedia's of fish. The second floor has an exhibition of Ken Tagawa's wood-block prints of the Western-style houses of Nagasaki.
Former Steele Memorial School. This mission school was built in the hills of Higashi-Yamate in 1887. Its first floor has a photograph of the Glover family and “Glover Encyclopedia,” which is one of Japan’s four major encyclopedia’s of fish. The second floor has an exhibition of Ken Tagawa’s wood-block prints of the Western-style houses of Nagasaki.
Front Gate Gaurdhouse of the Former Nagasaki Commercial College. From the Meiji period (1868-1912) to the early part of the Showa period (1926-1989), the state-run Nagasaki Commercial College was an important educational institution in the field of Japanese economics. This school's original guard house, which was moved here from its former location and restored. The guardhouse  features a blend of Japanese and Western design, with modern ornamentation appearing alongside traditional paper screen doors.
Front Gate Gaurdhouse of the Former Nagasaki Commercial College. From the Meiji period (1868-1912) to the early part of the Showa period (1926-1989), the state-run Nagasaki Commercial College was an important educational institution in the field of Japanese economics. This school’s original guard house, which was moved here from its former location and restored. The guardhouse features a blend of Japanese and Western design, with modern ornamentation appearing alongside traditional paper screen doors.

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Lindsay View All →

Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!

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