Glover Garden

Unbeknownst to me, Nagasaki was the major Japanese port; a centre of trade between Japan and Europe, home to Europeans after the “opening up” of Japan in the 1860s and the site of many innovations, such as the first asphalt road and tennis court in the country (the road is still on show albeit with some potholes after 150 years without a re-surfacing).

Glover Garden was the home to, amongst many others, Thomas Glover, a Scotsman who – to list just some of his achievements – made a major contribution towards modernising Japan and founded the Kirin beer company. His home – along with some of the other oldest western-style buildings in Japan – is located in the park, preserved as it was then.

Lastly, the park was the setting for Madame Butterfly.

This is not any old park…

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The #5 streetcar takes you to Hollander slope, so-called because all Europeans at the time were known as Dutchmen. This steep slope sports a myriad of crafts, ice-cream and souveneir shops. The garden itself is found at the top of the street – the highest points of the garden afford a wonderful view of the city and sea.

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The suggested route works upwards from the former Glover residence through some of the other buildings of the park.

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As you ascend the park the views get better and better. The view from this house was the best I got; this morning’s weather was not so kind as the previous evening’s. All around is the sea and what I assume – since one of the park’s houses belongs to Mitsubishi – are the Mitsubishi ship yards.

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Glover Garden makes for a somewhat unusual tourist attraction for Japan but all the more welcome for that; you can get tired of temples and shrines and seeing how the “newcomers” adapted European residences for Japan is fascinating. I think it’s an essential part of any trip to Nagasaki, doubly so since it’s a reminder that this city was great, important and world-famous long before 1945.

Grand Hyatt, Fukuoka

Wow. Amazing.

  • I finally understand why people spend €400 on a hotel room.
  • I finally understand how a truly excellent hotel can completely transform your mood from disgruntled, frustrated , traveller.
  • I finally understand how Scarlett Johansson’s character in Lost in Translation spent most of her time in the hotel.

After two weeks of €50 a night jobs, this hotel has about 50 people on hand at all times to take your luggage to your room and answer all your crappy little questions like ringing the train station to confirm that the Nagasaki line is open and even order your taxi (“JR or Shinkansen side? Nagasaki? Oh, the JR side – this way.”) and carry your bags to the taxi.

The room was spacious, the bathroom vast and the shower divine. The 32″ plasma TV helped, the free 1Mb internet connection was glorious and the little note on the bed about the next morning’s “Gion Yamakasa” festival – along with the free paper hat, or whatever it is – as they say, priceless (however, a choice between this bedroom and getting up for a 5am canoe race is no choice at all, really, but a nice souveneir).

Downstairs was a very nice, reasonable, bar with a live piano/guitar duo at night and vast breakfast buffet in the morning and outside all that is a plaza with a canal running through and an attached shopping centre.

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I never even caught a single glance of the city…and I don’t care.

Amazing.