Nagasaki is a city full of history. As the home of Dejima Island, it was one of the first Japanese cities to be influenced by foreigners. When Japan finally did open, many entrepreneurs from around the world traveled to the city to take part in new opportunities. One of them was Thomas Blake Glover from Scotland. Upon the top of a hill he built a house that still stands today, along with several historical buildings and gardens.
The Glover Garden (pronounced closer to graba-en in Japanese) is a popular stop for many school trips (shugakko-ryokou) due to the historic significance. Despite the educational nature of the place, the students I went with found the area very enjoyable for a wholly other reason.
Glover Garden Grounds
The grounds of the estate boasts 13 different historic sites along with more than 10 historic buildings. Many of the sights are simple statues and historic items like a water tap from the Meiji Era.
The buildings are all in old Western styles with tall thin doors, old style appliances and other unique museum items. Many of the buildings were part of the Nagasaki Foreign Settlement and are named for the influential people who lived there. This building is the Former Steele Memorial Academy.
In addition to the grounds, there is a retro photography studio, coffee shop, and souvenir shop. In the Traditional Performing Arts Museum, the dragons from the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival are on display.
The one thing nearly every (junior high) student gets excited about at the Gardens is the search for one or more of the three heart-shaped stones placed throughout the grounds. Two are located on the guide map, while the third is a bit harder to find. These stones are somewhat small and set in among the other paving stones.
It was fun to watch students (and some teachers) go streaking by in their search for the stones. It is said that if you touch them, your dreams of love will come true. Of course, if one is good, all three are better, right?
For more, check out their website http://www.glover-garden.jp