Aberdeen’s Lord Provost hosted a prestigious visit from the Mayor of Nagasaki yesterday (Monday, August 22).
The visit included places of interest for Thomas Blake Glover who was a major influence on the industrialisation of Japan.
Thomas Blake Glover, dubbed the “Scottish Samurai”, was instrumental in the development of Japan as an industrial nation in the late 1800s.
He was born in Fraserburgh in 1838 to a local coastguard, Thomas Berry Glover, and as a young child moved to the Bridge of Don on the northern edge of Aberdeen.
He was educated at the Chanonry House School in Old Aberdeen until the age of 16. The Glover family later lived in a home in Bridge of Don which is now called Glover House.
It is thought Glover probably stayed there in later life when he was back in Aberdeen negotiating a contract for one of the Japanese warships built in the city.
Tomihisa Taue visited the north-east to is to continue to develop and strengthen the civic and business links between Aberdeen and Nagasaki.
Aberdeen Lord Provost George Adam said: “Aberdeen has a strong relationship with Nagasaki based on a shared heritage and a friendship between our citizens.
“Whilst this is incredibly important to us, the relationship also offers opportunities to collaborate in many new ways and I look forward to future partnerships with the city and people of Nagasaki which can benefit us all.”
Mr Taue said: “This is my second visit to Aberdeen and everybody has been incredibly welcoming.
“Aberdeen and Nagasaki have a shared history and heritage through the work and legacy of Thomas Blake Glover but we also have a shared vision for the future.
“I’ve been able to learn quite a lot about the energy industries in Aberdeen and we too are embarking on a future in alternative energy technologies.”
The visit started with a trip to the hydrogen production and refuelling station in Kittybrewster, which was officially opened in March 2015 as part of an award-winning £19million green transport demonstration project.
This includes 10 hydrogen fuel cell buses operated by First and Stagecoach in the city which only emit water vapour, reducing carbon emissions and air pollution, as well as being quieter and smoother to run than diesel vehicles.
The next stage was a visit to Glover House in the Bridge of Don, which was bought by Glover for his parents. A feasibility study which seeks to identify a sustainable future use for the property is being carried out by Aberdeen City Council. Last week at a meeting of the Full Council, councillors agreed to transfer £150,000 from the Bridge of Don Trust to Glover House.
Working for the Scottish trading company Jardine, Matheson and Co, Glover travelled to Nagasaki in 1859 and spent the rest of his adult life in Japan, helping it industrialise and playing a role in the changes in its government and way of life. A friend and advisor to the Japanese government and the industrial company Mitsubishi, Glover died in Tokyo in 1911 aged 73.
Mr Taue then travelled on a hydrogen bus to Aberdeen Maritime Museum, which has a permanent exhibition on Thomas Blake Glover.
The permanent exhibition includes a model of the Aberdeen-built warship Jo Sho Maru, bottles of Kirin beer which feature Glover on the label from the brewery he helped and developed, and a suit of Samurai armour which belongs to the Grampian-Japan Trust.
In addition, Aberdeen City Council also produced a booklet explaining Glover’s life story and how he became so instrumental in shaping Japan and the Mitsubishi company, and a Glover Trail has been mapped out highlighting his extensive family connections across the north-east.
The afternoon segment for Mr Taue included a tour of Glen Garioch Distillery at Inverurie, and a visit to the Scottish Rugby Academy at the University of Aberdeen. There was a formal dinner hosted by the Lord Provost in the evening.
Mr Adam will visit Nagasaki in turn in February 2017 to further strengthen the ties between the two cities.
In 2010, it was agreed a Citizens’ Friendship City link-up should be formed between Aberdeen and Nagasaki which is aimed at promoting free and relaxed relationships between cities, with citizens and citizens’ groups.