Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley


Scottish Historical Connections

Got a story of a Scots ancestor?  Then do send it in for inclusion on these pages to Alastair McIntyre

There have long been ties between Japan and Scotland and the following are some examples of key individuals who have made this possible. (Taken from the Consulate web site).

Isabella Bird:
Visited Japan from Scotland in the late 19th century and subsequently had a book published: Unbeaten Tracks in Japan. Isabella Bird is buried in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh.

Captain Albert Richard Brown:
Brown, from Glasgow, was commissioned by the Japanese Government to chart the coasts of Japan in 1868. He went on to work in various areas helping to develop trade between Japan and the rest of the World and returned to Glasgow after 20 years where he acted as Japan's Honorary Consul in addition to setting up his own company.

Richard Henry Brunton:
Henry Brunton, an engineer from Muchalls near Aberdeen went to Japan in 1868 and stayed there for eight years. He was requested to supervise the installation of a scheme for lighthouses for the entire coast of Japan. Two brothers of the Scottish Lighthouse Board, David and Thomas Stevenson, had previously been commissioned to design and manufacture the scheme which Brunton was to supervise. During his time in Japan, Brunton was involved in a variety of civil engineering projects. He also worked closely with Hirobumi Ito and acted as a guide to industrial establishments during the visit of the Iwakura mission.

Rita Cowan:
In 1934 Rita Cowan from Kirkintilloch went to live in Japan with her husband, Masataka Taketsuru, whom she had met while he was at Glasgow University to study aspects of whisky distilling. On returning to Japan they founded the Nikka Whisky company in Yoichi, Hokkaido. Today there are still links between Kirkintilloch and Yoichi through various exchange programs.

Masataka Taketsuru:
Masataka Taketsuru, from Osaka, studied whisky making techniques in Scotland during 1919 and 1920. He married Rita Cowan in 1920 and on returning to Japan, Taketsuru set up his own company which became Nikka, the second largest whisky distiller in Japan.

Henry Dyer:
Henry Dyer was born in Bothwell in 1848. He studied engineering at Anderson's College (now part of Strathclyde University), and later at Glasgow University. He was recruited by Hirobumi Ito (future first Prime Minister) when he came to the UK as part of the Iwakura mission in 1872 and spent 10 years in Japan as Principal of the Engineering College. During his time in Japan, Dyer received several honours from the Japanese Government and published several books resulting in him being regarded as a leading authority on the industrial and political development of Japan at that time.

Sir Alfred Ewing:
As a result of the Iwakura mission to the UK Ewing took up the Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Tokyo Engineering College (amalgamated into Imperial University of Tokyo, now Tokyo University). He returned in 1882 after five years and was later knighted and became Principal of Edinburgh University.

Thomas Blake Glover:
Thomas Blake Glover was born in Fraserburgh in 1838. He first visited Japan in 1859 and was involved in various business ventures in Nagasaki where his house has become a tourist destination. It is popularly believed that Glover's life provided the inspiration for Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly. A Thomas Blake Glover Room opened in October 1995 at Fraserburgh Library, King Edward Street, Fraserburgh. The room contains information tracing Glover's life.

E.A Hornel:
The artist Hornel, one of the "Glasgow Boys" whose style of painting was much influenced by Japanese art, spent time in Japan from 1893-1894 and again in 1922.

Iwakura Mission:
This was the first Japanese government mission and arrived in Scotland in 1872 as part of a two year fact-finding tour of Europe and the United States. It was led by Ambassador Tomomi Iwakura and included 4 associate ambassadors, 48 delegates and 54 students. The mission precipitated the development of important links cultural and industrial between Scotland and Japan.

See the video celebrating 150 years of diplomatic ties between Glasgow University and Japan

Thomas Blake Glover
One of the father's of modern Japan
Henry Dyer
Henry Dyer (1848 - 1918) was a Scottish engineer who contributed much to founding Western-style technical education in Japan and Anglo-Japanese relations.
William Kinninmond Burton
The Scot who designed Japan's first Skyscraper
Richard Henry Brunton
(26 December 1841 24 April 1901) was the so-called "Father of Japanese lighthouses". Brunton was born in Muchalls, Kincardineshire, Scotland. He was employed by the Japanese Government as an o-yatoi gaikokujin to build lighthouses in Japan.
Sir James Alfred Ewing KCB FRS FRSE MInstitCE
(27 March 1855 - 7 January 1935) was a Scottish physicist and engineer, best known for his work on the magnetic properties of metals and, in particular, for his discovery of, and coinage of the word, hysteresis.
Ainu Creed and Cult
By Neil Gordon Munro, Edited with a preface and an additional chapter by B. Z. Seligman, Introduction by H. Watanabe (1962) (pdf)

The Scottish Samurai Awards
Japan: The Rise of a Modern Power
By Robert P. Porter (1918)
Japanese Consulate in Scotland
The Japan Times
Japan National Tourism Organisation

Return to our Scots in the World Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus