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Former Glover House

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Thomas Blake Glover (1838–1911) was one of the first Westerners to arrive in Japan after the country opened to foreign trade in 1859, and one of the first to find success in the port of Nagasaki. He lived in this house, which was built for him in 1863 by master carpenter Koyama Hidenoshin (1828–1898). Koyama had also built the British Episcopal Church in Higashiyamate, and he would later build the Former Alt House located farther up the hill. Glover came to Nagasaki in September 1859 to work for Jardine, Matheson & Co., but within three years he had started his own company, Glover & Co. In 1861, he acquired the lots at No. 3 and No. 1 Minamiyamate, where he set about building a mansion overlooking the harbor. His company quickly grew, exporting tea, timber, and other goods to the West while importing guns, machinery, and steamships into Japan. Glover’s main connections were in Satsuma (now Kagoshima Prefecture) and Chōshū (now Yamaguchi Prefecture), two domains where there was high interest in acquiring Western technology and overthrowing the shogunal government. Despite the shogunal prohibition, Glover helped young samurai travel abroad, and he was lifelong friends with Itō Hirobumi (1841–1909), Japan’s first prime minister and a leader in drafting the Meiji Constitution. After the emperor was restored to power in 1868, Glover took a more active role in supporting the industrialization of Japan’s shipbuilding and mining industries. He helped construct Japan’s first modern coal mine, in Takashima, as well as its first steam-powered slip dock, which was imported from Scotland. Glover lived in the house with his wife, Awajiya Tsuru (1851–1899), and his two children, Kuraba Tomisaburō (1871–1945) and Hana Glover (1876–1938). In 1876, Glover moved to Tokyo with his family to work as a consultant for the Mitsubishi Company, and he remained there until his death in 1911. In 1939, his son sold the house to Mitsubishi, and it was donated to Nagasaki City in 1957. The house was designated an Important Cultural Property in 1961 and became a World Heritage Site in 2015.

Architectural Features

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The Former Glover House is one of the oldest surviving Western-style buildings in Japan. Architecturally, it resembles a bungalow, a style that originated in British-controlled India as a blending of British and Bengali architecture. Bungalows quickly spread throughout the British Empire, and Glover probably saw them while in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Although the house’s design is Japanese, in particular the post-and-beam frame set on boulders, it incorporates many Western features such as hardwood floors, coal-burning fireplaces, French windows, and a stone-paved veranda. The house was known for the huge pine that stood beside it, and Glover nicknamed the house “Ipponmatsu” meaning “lone pine.” The tree died and was cut down in 1905.

Thomas Blake Glover (1838–1911)

%e3%82%b0%e3%83%a9%e3%83%90%e3%83%bc Scotsman Thomas Blake Glover played a crucial role in transforming Japan from an isolated, agrarian society into a modern industrial nation. Glover was one of the first Westerners to enter Japan after the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1868) officially opened the country to widescale international trade in 1859. Glover took a position with a company called Jardine, Matheson & Co., but he soon established his own company, Glover & Co., and made a fortune exporting tea, timber, and other products while importing guns, machinery, and steamships. Glover believed that shipbuilding and mining would be vital to Japan’s modernization, and he helped to create the country’s first steam-powered slip dock and first modern coal mine. To kickstart these fledging industries, Glover imported state-of-the-art machinery and hired Western engineers. Glover was lifelong friends with Iwasaki Yanosuke (1851–1908), the second-generation president of the Mitsubishi Company, the largest shipping firm in Japan at the time. While in Nagasaki, Glover had a number of Japanese lovers, and he fathered two children, Kuraba Tomisaburō (1871–1945) and Hana Glover Bennett (1876–1938). Not much is known about Tomisaburō’s mother, Kaga Maki (d. 1903), but Hana’s mother, Awajiya Tsuru (1851–1899), lived with Glover until her death in 1899. In 1908, the Japanese government awarded Glover the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun, Second Class for his services to the country. He died of kidney disease in Tokyo on December 16, 1911.

Kuraba Tomisaburō (T. A. Glover) (1871–1945)

%e5%af%8c%e4%b8%89%e9%83%8e Kuraba Tomisaburō was the son of Thomas B. Glover (1838–1911) and a Japanese woman named Kaga Maki (d. 1903). Maki raised Tomisaburō until about the age of six, when Glover took him and brought him into his own home. Tomisaburō attended Chinzei Gakuin in Nagasaki and Gakushuin in Tokyo before studying at Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to Nagasaki in 1894 and began working at Holme, Ringer & Co., a company founded by his father’s former employees. While working for Holme, Ringer & Co., Tomisaburō helped establish the Steamship Fisheries Company, which revolutionized the fishing industry by introducing steam trawlers to Japan. He is also known for compiling the Glover Atlas: Fishes of Southern and Western Japan, which contains over 800 watercolor illustrations of marine species found in southwestern Japan. In 1899, Tomisaburō married Nakano Waka (1875–1943), the daughter of a British merchant and a Japanese woman. They made a comfortable life for themselves in Nagasaki until the late 1930s, when Japanese society became gripped by xenophobia and nationalism, and their international connections came under harsh scrutiny. Waka died in 1943. On August 26, 1945, two weeks after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Tomisaburō committed suicide at his home. The couple had no children.