Take a stroll through the history of east meets west in this picturesque garden with glorious views.By Elizabeth Sok
An open-air museum preserving the rich connections between Westerners and Japanese people, Glover Garden is a must-visit in Nagasaki.
Located on the Minami Yamate hillside, this garden features several Western-style houses, including the oldest wooden one in Japan, as well as gardens and rooms recreated in the fashion of the turn of the twentieth century.
For a trip back in time to a key period in Japan’s modernization and interactions with the outside world, come tour the grounds of Glover Garden.
While the word garden is in the name of this historical spot, the ponds, the koi fish that live in them and the carefully arranged flowers and trees planted throughout are but one part of this expansive historical space. Relocated from areas throughout the city to Glover Garden are several historical houses once owned by Western diplomats and men of industry. Among these are the Walker House whose owner worked in the burgeoning shipping industry and the house of Frederick Ringer who contributed to tea exports, fishing and the newspaper business.
In addition to admiring the facade of these luxurious buildings, visitors can enter and explore rooms that have been redesigned with the 19th century in mind. Also, be sure to peek out of the windows to see what fantastic views of the ocean!
The Glover Residence
The jewel of the garden is the Glover Residence, the oldest wooden Western-style building in the country. Constructed for Thomas Glover, an important figure in Japan’s industrialization and significant in the development of Japan’s shipbuilding and coal mining industries in the late 19th century, this house marries Western architectural elements, such as a chimney and French windows, while also retaining Japanese influences, including its tiled roofs and foundational support structure.
As with the other buildings in Glover Garden, this one can also be explored in all its period-appropriate glory.
A Seat With a View
If you need to rest your feet, find a seat at Glover Cafe or Jiyutei Cafe to recharge. At Glover Cafe, enjoy the outdoor seats surrounded by greenery as you sip a bottle of Banzai, a Nagasaki specialty soft drink, or Tebiki Soda which was first sold during the Meiji period (1868-1912).
For some more history, head on over to Jiyutei Cafe, the first Western-style restaurant in Japan and now the site of its modern reinvention. Order a castella cake, a famous Nagasaki treat with roots in Portuguese cuisine.