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