Nagasaki’s Holiday Lights Look Back to the Future

Photos by Ari Beser The escalator leading to Glover Gardens is electrified with holiday lights.

Nagasaki, Japan – The winter season is fast approaching in Japan, and for the country famous for its futuristic appeal, no expense seems to have been spared to illuminate the nation with mind-bending holiday lights.

Many the world over know Japan as a country on the forefront of technology. Bullet trains speed through the country at over 200 mph, vending machines sell anything from Coca-Cola to fresh produce, and convenient capsule hotels host late-working businessmen and curious tourists alike. But did you know that one of Japan’s earliest pioneers of modernization was a Nagasaki-residing Scottish entrepreneur named Thomas B. Glover?

Glover, whose Nagasaki home and Gardens were deemed world heritage sites in the summer of 2015, moved here in 1859 after Japan ended its notorious period of isolation by opening for business with the world. Until that point, Nagasaki was the only port city where foreign commerce was allowed.

When Emperor Meiji took power, and the shogunate was disbanded, Nagasaki as a port city fell out of vogue in favor of Yokohama, which was closer to Tokyo. Glover had banked on Nagasaki remaining the center of trade, so at the risk of losing out on his invested interests he helped bring Western technology to Nagasaki, and eventually to Japan.

Glover opened the first modern coal mine on Takashima island in Nagasaki Harbor, he imported steam engine technology that enabled Mitsubishi to open Japan’s first modern shipyard, and he helped modernise the fishing industry. He also opened the first brewery that still operates today, under the name Kirin Brewing Company.

The view of Nagasaki Harbor from Glover Gardens.

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