|24 December 2015|

Scotsman Thomas Blake Glover (1838-1911) played a pivotal role in the industrialisation of Japan, forming a company which would ultimately develop into the Mitsubishi Company.

A trading merchant, Glover moved to Nagasaki in 1859 aged 21. Within a few years of arriving in the city he established his own business: Glover & Co. The young Scot went on to make enormous contributions to the modernisation of Japan.

He introduced a number of firsts to the country, including the first steam railway locomotive called ‘Iron Duke’, he also built the country’s first modern coal mine at Takashima and first slip dock at Kosuge, and in 1880 laid Japan’s first telephone cable between Nagasaki and his house on Takashima Island. Among the many western buildings, his residence was the first wooden European-style house to be built in Japan, in a unique bungalow style.

The Mitsubishi Company bought the Takashima coal mine in the early 1880s and Glover was duly appointed a lifelong consultant to Mitsubishi.

Known in his adopted country as the Scottish Samurai, Glover also helped establish the Japan Brewery Company in Yokohama, which would go on to sell the world renowned Kirin Beer for the first time in 1888. The bushy moustache on the ‘Kirin’ – which features on the label for Kirin Beer – is said to have been inspired by Glover’s.

In 1908 the man from the north east of Scotland was awarded the second class Order of the Rising Sun. He died in Tokyo after being decorated by the Japanese Government, and  in 1961 Glover House was designated an important cultural asset by the Japanese government