The Scottish Samurai

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 15.31.00On 6 June 1838 Thomas Blake Glover was born in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. It was from the north east of Scotland that he ventured out to the Far East in the late 1850s, leaving a lasting legacy in Japan that provided the foundation for the enduring connections between Scotland and Japan.

In nineteenth-century Japan Scots were at the vanguard of European arrivals. Many of the earliest Scottish arrivals in Japan had made their way via China, and Shanghai in particular. It was a key port for the China trade, and served as an important gateway that connected China with Japan.  Trade was, in fact, the key motivation for many Scots to go to Japan, and the first British diplomatic plenipotentiary sent to Japan, the 8th Earl of Elgin, was specifically …

Scottish Connections with Japan

In nineteenth-century Japan Scots were at the vanguard of European arrivals, with Thomas Blake Glover providing the most prominent example of the close ties that subsequently developed between Japan and Scotland. Glover arrived in Nagasaki in 1859 to manage the local office of Hong Kong-based Jardine Matheson, but soon set up his own trading company. He sold arms, developed coal mines and was fundamental in establishing a shipyard in Nagasaki that would later become the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan, importing the required technology directly from the Clyde. Glover was the purveyor of the Japanese industrialisation. Of great significance too was Neil Gordon Munro, the director of Yokohama’s General Hospital and one of the first Westerners to study the Ainu people of Hokkaido. Yet while the history of Scots like …