Thursday, 23 January 2014

Scottish Samurai's Home to Reopen as Museum

Braehead House, the Victorian mansion of ‘Scottish Samurai’ Thomas Blake Glover is to be reopened as a tourist attraction..

Two years ago the mansion in Bridge of Don was forced to close due to low visitor numbers. Aberdeen City Council will now take over ownership of the building, and plan to turn it into a tourist attraction to help promote links with Japan.

Thomas Blake Glover is relatively unknown in his birth country, but he helped change the face of Japan back in the late 1800s.  His former home in Nagasaki has two million visitors a year, and is the oldest surviving Western style house in the city.

He was a key figure in the industrialisation of Japan in the period following the end of the Sakoku policy (a foreign relations policy which forbid foreigners entering the country).  Glover opened Japan’s first coal mine, brought over the first steam train, and helped to found the shipbuilding company which became Mitsubishi Corporation and the Japan Brewery Company which became the Kirinn brewery.  He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun.

He made his fortune selling ships and arms to the rebels in the Boshin War in 1868-69, which led to the Meiji Restoration of Imperial rule.