Glover House

Glover house, also known as Glover residence, is the first western style residence in Japan constructed by Japanese carpenters. While its architect has yet to be singled out, two Japanese names that are mentioned in old document discovered in the site have been thought to be the names of its architects.

Tomas Blake Glover was an arms dealer from Scotland who worked for Jardine Matheson Co., Ltd. He voyaged to Shanghai after his graduation in 1859 and joined the company. After that, in September of the same year, he came to Nagasaki, Japan and established Glover Trading Company as a Nagasaki branch of Jardine Matheson Co., Ltd. in two years from his arrival. Although his company originally dealt in tea and raw silk, it came to commit to arms deals with anti-Establishment forces when Japan plunged into political unrest.

Glover has mainly been known among today's Japanese people as a main investor of Sakamoto Ryoma, a historically famous figure in Japan. Ryoma is said to be one of the biggest driving force of Japan's regime change from Edo Bakufu to Meiji new government.  

Sakamoto Ryoma

Ryoma mediated the conclution of a friendly alliance between two hostile powers both of which were hoping to overthrow the administration of Edo Bakuf. So the role that he played has been considerd as a significantly important one to acomplish the Japan's regime change.

Ryoma, in the first place, had no power and money because he belonged to lower class of samurai. So his courage and vitality have been respected among today's Japanese people. But his achievements would not be built without Glover's deep pocket.

Ryoma had been backed by Glover and Glover also had been backed by Jardine Matheson, an european economic giant in those days. And they attempted to defeat Edo Bakufu. This fact means that western world, in those days, had been hoping to change Japan's regime.

Kameyama-shachu is a trading company established by Ryoma and its first business was mediating the trade of 7,300 guns between Glover Trading Company and Choshu-han, one of the opposing force against Edo Bakufu. Ryoma built up his influence through this kind of business.

seacret garret room in Glover House

Glover house had a secret garret room and it had been used for the secret meeting among executive directors of anti-Edo Bakufu forces. Not only did he invest his money, but he had been committed to the revolution more actively. 

Glover was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and in those days, that area had 13 lodges of freemasonry for only about 60,000 population. He had been belonging to freemasonry and its symbol mark is carved on the stone monuments standing in the garden of his house.

After accomplishment of the revolution, Glover Trading Company went bankrupt but Glover stayed as an important figure in Japanese economic world. He bought out a bankrupted brewery company founded by an american brewer, William Copeland, and established new brewery company.
That brewery company, Kirin Co., Ltd. has still been existing as one of the major Japanese brewery company. And its logo mark is said to be hinting Ryoma because 'Ryo' means dragon and 'ma' means horse in Japanese. The logo mark looks like a mixture of dragon and horse.

Kirin's logo and Chinese dragon

Glover married a Japanese woman, Tsuru, and lived in Japan until he died in 1911. His wife, according to theories, was a model of 'madam butterfly' a Puccini's opera. In fact, she liked clothes printed butterfly pattern and was called 'Chouchou-san', a name means Mrs. Butterfly in Japanese.

The site where Glover House is located is now called 'Glover Garden' and several antique Japanese western architectures have been brought from their original sites to the garden for exhibiting. These architectures are built in late 19th to early 20th.



Goryokaku is a pentagon shaped fortress that was constructed at Hakodate, Hokkaido in late Edo Period. It was completed in 1864, but Edo bakufu collapsed just after its completion in 1868. And then remaining forces of Edo Bakufu barricaded in it.

Goryokaku is popular among most Japanese people as a place of the last battle between new government forces and remaining forces of the previous regime, Edo Bakufu. This fortress always appear in the story of Shinsen-gumi.

Shinsen-gumi is a special forces of Edo-Bakufu and it was organized without considering member's social position but with their skills of combat. In other words, it included many members of non-samurai classes - an epoch-making trial in those days.

a typical image of Shinsen-gumi

The remaining forces was none other than Shinsen-gumi. They had high morale than ordinary samurais who were entitled their position by heredity. Therefore the Shinsen-gumi had been the core of the remaining forces along with troops of Aizu domain, the last domain which had kept the loyalty to Edo Bakufu.

Shinsen-gumi consisted of more than 200 members in its zenith, but there were about ten and several popular names who have been focused in many movies or novels. Kondo Isami, Hijikata Toshizo and Okita Soji are particularly popular among modern Japanese people.

In above photograph, the left is Kondo and the right is Hijikata. Kondo was the leader and Hijikata was the vice-leader of Shinsen-gumi. When it barricaded itself in Goryokaku, Kondo had already been executed by new government troops.

Since the two men had been tied with strong mutual trust and loyalty to Shinsen-gumi, Hijikata also had been in ready to die in the battle against new government. And in fact, Hokkaido has come to his last stage in the history as he died on his horse by an enemy gun shot there.  

However, the fact that his body was not found around alleged site of his death has been arousing an eccentric theory; there are people who argue that he freed to Russia with the help of his patron trading with Russia. There was Russian consulate in Hakodate in those days.

Anyway, Shinsen-gumi surrendered to new government at Hakodate, and it also meant the surrender of Edo Bakufu. Therefore, Goryokaku has been appearing as the stage of climax in the movies and novels related to Shinsen-gumi. 

According to these stories and historical records, although Hijikata Toshizo originally had been feared by the members for his strict execution of military rules including capital punishment, he became mild-tempered when they came to and barricaded in Goryokaku to the extent that some members called him 'merciful Toshi'. However, his death has still been remaining as an enigma. There is a theory that argues he was shot by an intentional friendly fire because he had been standing at the tail of the front line and saying that deserters would be cut down by his sword.

In above figure, the right is an illustration of Hijikata and the left is its drawer Nakajima Nobori, one of the members of Shinsen-gumi. Nakajima was one of the few survivor of it and lived to fifty years old managing a gun shop in Shizuoka pref - there is a movie featuring his life, a fact that proves Shinsen-gumi's popularity. There are only few members who can survive the battle against new government and lived in Meiji period, a period after Edo period.

In above photograph, the left is Nagakura Shinpachi and the right is an alleged photograph of Saito Hajime. They are also ones of the few survivors of Shinsen-gumi and they both lived to 1915. Nagakura became an instructor of Kendo and Saito became a police officer.

Since Shinsen-gumi had a character as secret police, they inevitably had incurred enmities of various individuals and organizations. And what is worth, their major and strongest supporter, Edo Bakufu, had already collapsed, which meant they were standing on dangerous situation.

In fact, Nagakura and Saito were each using a false name in their life after Shinsen-gumi, and Nagakura Shinpachi was followed around by Miki Saburo, who wanted to settle a score with him, and the fellows of Miki. Nagakura was forced to leave Tokyo, changing his name. 

Goryokaku has been recognized among modern Japanese people mainly as the site of the last battle of such Shinsen-gumi. As for its characteristic shape, it was designed for defensive battle using guns. As you can see in the photo bellow, that shape enabled gunners to shoot enemies from both sides.



Izumo-taisha is one of the most ancient and important shrines of Shinto, a Japanese primitive religion. Although even today's its appearance is spectacle enough to attract many sightseers, the most interesting issue about it would be its ancient main structure that has been lost about a thousand years ago. 

The image bellow is an imaginary drawing of it. According to a plan written in those days, its height amounted to 48 meters. It was so high that many historians had been skeptical about its existence. In 1989, however, Obayashi Corporation, a major construction company, succeeded in proving its existence.

They organized a project team, and had them perform researches and simulations of its construction process. The result of those studies proved that the construction of it was possible for people with ancient technology.  

The result showed nothing but a mere theoretical possibility of its existence at that point. However, when three huge columns were dug up from the site of Izumo-Taisha, lore and hypothesis about the high-rise structure was proved to be truth.

The high-rise structure, however, has provoked wide-ranging experts to advocate many hypotheses about its process of construction. There even are people who argue it was built by ancient space travelers from outer space. 

As in the case of pyramids, its hugeness has been arousing people's imagination ranging from the plausible to the absurd. It also might be one of the fingerprints of the Gods. It would be a theme that attracts most of the people who living in modern society.


Sazae-Dou Temple

Sazae means turban shell in Japanese. Its name, need less to say, comes from its amazing structure. Sazae-Dou is located in Aizu- Wakamatsu City, Fukushima and has been their since 1796. It also has been designated as one of the national cultural properties.

The name Aizu has been well known among Japanese people for its history; Aizu fought and resisted against new government troops, standing by Edo-Bakufu in the Meiji Restoration. The era of Samurai ended virtually by their defeat.

Sazae-Dou is related to that history too; Iimori-Yama, Mt. Iimori, where Sazae-Dou is located is a well known place because Samurai boys committed suicide, realizing their defeat.  The samurai boys had been called Byakko-tai, White Tiger Brigade in Japanese, and it consisted of some 350 boys aged from 13 to 17.