Thomas Blake Glover arrived in Nagasaki in 1859 at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, age 21. He went on to provide technical know-how for shipbuilding and mining. A founder of Mitsubishi, he constructed Japan’s first modern shipyard at Nagasaki in 1869.
Glover ordered three warships from shipyards back in his home town of Aberdeen, Scotland, for what was to become the Japanese Imperial Navy.
He opened and owned the Takashima Coal Mine and founded the Kirin Brewery which to this day produces Japan’s premier beer. He introduced Japan’s first railway and was instrumental in sending sons of leading families to Britain to study, among them Hirobumi Ito, later to become the first prime minister of modern Japan.
Glover was the first non-Japanese person to be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun – Japan’s top civilian honour bestowed by His Imperial Majesty, The Emperor.