Glover Garden is a park in Nagasaki, Japan built for Thomas Blake Glover, a Scottish entrepreneur who contributed to the modernization of Japan in shipbuilding, coal mining, and many other fields. In it stands the Glover Residence, the oldest Western style house surviving in Japan and Nagasaki's foremost tourist attraction. It is located on the Minamiyamate hillside overlooking Nagasaki harbor. It was built by Koyama Hidenoshin of Amakusa island and completed in 1863. It has been designated as an Important Cultural Asset. As the house and its surroundings are reminiscent of Puccini's opera, it is also known as the "Madame Butterfly House." Statues of Puccini and diva Miura Tamaki, famed for her role as Cio-Cio-san, stand in the park near the house. This house was also the venue of Glover's meetings with rebel samurai particularly from the Choshu and Satsuma domains.
Thomas Blake Glover, Order of the Rising Sun (6 June 1838 – 13 December 1911) was a Scottish merchant in Bakumatsu and Meiji-era Japan.
In 1859, Glover crossed from Shanghai to Nagasaki and worked initially for Jardine Matheson buying Japanese green tea. Two years later, he founded his own firm, Glover Trading Co. (Guraba-Shokai). His first major success was as a merchant for ships, guns and gunpowder sold illegally to the rebellious Satsuma, Choshu and Tosa clans in Japan during the 1860s. His business was based in Nagasaki, and it was here that he had his home constructed, the first Western-style building in Japan. There is no evidence to show that Glover was a Freemason, although he is often associated with the Masonic Lodge by both Japanese and foreign writers. His association with the samurai clans above, and his interest in samurais generally seems to have contributed to his gaining the nickname the "Scottish Samurai". A Scottish Samurai award has been initiated by Aberdeen Sports Council.
Anti-western sentiment was rife at this point throughout the country due to the unbalanced treaty agreements imposed upon the Tokugawa Shogunate by the United States and other western powers, which included extraterritorial rights. Nationalistic militants in Satsuma and Choshu spearheaded anti-government efforts aimed at toppling the Shogunate and restoring the Emperor as sovereign. It was to these factions, later to become leaders in the Meiji Restoration government, that Glover supported with arms and warships.
In 1863, Glover helped the Choshu Five travel to London on Jardine Matheson ships. He also helped send fifteen trainees from Satsuma under Godai Tomoatsu in 1865. He was also responsible in 1868 for bringing the first steam railway locomotive called "Iron Duke" to Japan which he demonstrated on an 8-mile track at Oura.
As Glover had assisted in toppling the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Boshin War, he had cordial relations with the new Meiji government. These links led to his being responsible for commissioning one of the first warships in the Imperial Japanese Navy (the Jo Sho Maru, later called Ryujo Maru) which was built by Alexander Hall and Company in Aberdeen and launched on 27 March 1869. Glover also commissioned the smaller Hosho Maru for the navy and the Kagoshima for the Satsuma clan from the same Aberdeen shipyard.
In 1868, Glover made a contract with the Nabeshima clan of Saga Domain in Hizen Province and began to develop Japan's first coal mine at Takashima. He also brought the first dry dock to Japan.
Thomas Glover went bankrupt in 1870, but he stayed in Japan to manage the Takashima coal mine after the Restoration for the mine's Dutch owners until it was taken over by the Meiji government. In 1881, the mine was acquired by Iwasaki Yataro. Glover was a key figure in the industrialisation of Japan, helping to found the shipbuilding company, which was later to become the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan. He also helped found the Japan Brewery Company, which later became the major Kirin Brewery Company, Ltd. It is rumoured that the moustache of the mythical creature featured on Kirin beer labels is in fact a tribute to Glover (who sported a similar moustache). In recognition of these achievements, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (second class). Thomas Glover died at his home in Tokyo, but was buried at the Sakamoto International Cemetery in Nagasaki.
Thomas Glover shared a common-law marital relationship with a Japanese woman named Yamamura Tsuru, a native of Bungo province (present day Oita Prefecture) whom he apparently met in Osaka in the early 1870s. The couple had a daughter named Hana, born in Nagasaki in 1876. Hana wed British merchant Walter Bennett in 1897 and later moved with him to Korea, where she died in 1938. She had four children but only one grandchild, Ronald Bennett (born 1931) who is living today in the United States. Thomas Glover also had a British-Japanese son, later named Kuraba Tomisaburo (1870–1945), who was born in Nagasaki and went on to make important contributions to the economy of this city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tomisaburo was married to Nakano Waka, also of mixed British and Japanese descent.
Official household registers preserved at Nagasaki City Hall indicate that Tomisaburo was the son, not of Glover's wife Tsuru, but of a woman named Kaga Maki. Except for these official registers, however, nothing is known about Kaga Maki, her relationship with Glover, or the circumstances of their separation. Glover and Tsuru remained together until the latter's death in 1899. Kaga Maki, meanwhile, married a Japanese man and died in Nagasaki in 1905.
Despite his Japanese citizenship, Kuraba Tomisaburo was hounded as a potential spy by the Japanese military police during World War II. His wife Waka died in 1943, and Tomisaburo committed suicide on 26 August 1945, soon after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a few weeks before the arrival of American Occupation forces in Nagasaki. Since the couple had no children, this marked the end of the association between Nagasaki and the Glover family.
Thomas Glover has been linked with Giacomo Puccini's opera "Madama Butterfly," which is set in Nagasaki, but there is no historical evidence to support this claim, except the fact that, in some photographs, Glover's wife Tsuru appears wearing a kimono with a butterfly design on the sleeve. There is also no evidence whatever for the claim that Tsuru went by the nickname "Ocho-san" (Ms Butterfly). It is likely, as Brian Burke-Gaffney points out, that the Glover-Madame Butterfly connection is derived from the fact that the American Occupation forces nicknamed the former Glover House the "Madame Butterfly House" (purely on the basis of the panoramic view over Nagasaki Harbor and the Euro-Japanese ambience of the building) and that Nagasaki authorities picked up on this as a way to promote the postwar tourism industry.
Glover's former residences in Nagasaki and Aberdeen have both since been turned into museums, with the beautifully situated Glover Garden house in Nagasaki attracting two million visitors each year. He also had a residence in the Shiba Park area of Tokyo. Glover's family home in Scotland, Glover House, 79 Balgownie Road, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen is now open to the public as a restored Victorian house, telling the Glover story. The house is also available as a venue for business meetings, small private functions and group tours. The home where he was born in Fraserburgh was destroyed by World War II bombing although a blue plaque marks the site of his birth.