The end of the Sakoku
In 1858, Japan underwent a real European invasion. This was the year that marked the end of Sakoku, the period during which Japan hermetically sealed its borders to the Western world in an attempt to keep international trade and much-feared Christianity at bay. For more than 200 years, Japan had closed itself off from the outside world. The only back-door entrance was Nagasaki, allowing the Portuguese and Dutch to trade on the island of Dejima. When Sakoku ended in 1858, Nagasaki designated various locations where foreigners were allowed to settle, including Minami-Yamate, where Thomas Glover built his house.
A Western house with a Japanese roof
Today, the home of Thomas Glover is the oldest Western-style wooden house in Japan, and attracts around 2 million visitors a year. The architecture is a mix of Western and Japanese elements. The windows are French, the verandas are in Italian style and the chimneys are British. However, the roof is typically Japanese. In Glover Garden you may also admire the houses of other European merchants, such as the Ringer House and Walker House. Also make sure to stop at the Freedom Café; here you can enjoy a cup of coffee as you soak up the ambiance of 19th-century Nagasaki.
Church for the merchants
Minami-Yamate features many more Western treasures. Combine a visit to Glover Garden with a tour of the Oura Catholic church, halfway up the hill. The church was built in 1864 to accommodate the ever-growing community of Western merchants and is the oldest wooden Gothic-style church in Japan. It is also known as the "Church of the 26 Martyrs", in memory of the 26 Christians who were executed on Nishizaka Hill in 1597, giving a clear message to the people of Nagasaki: Christianity will not be tolerated here.