Home Samurai culture “Scottish Samurai” who became a legendary figure in Japan – Nick Freer

“Scottish Samurai” who became a legendary figure in Japan – Nick Freer


The Scottish and Japanese rugby teams have been tied in recent years.

The Scottish and Japanese teams have been tied in recent years, with the latter edging Scotland when the East Asian nation hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2019. Scotland reversed the score on Saturday, well that at the final whistle, I had already found traces. Edinburgh center to avoid the post-match crowd.

I always think of these kinds of international sporting events as cultural experiences too, especially if you are traveling for an away game of course, and it was good to see a pinch of Japanese fans before, during and after the game.

Register now to our Opinion newsletter

Register now to our Opinion newsletter

I met a friend earlier in the week who studied Japanese at Kobe University in Hyogo Prefecture in southern Japan. Murdo Maclean, a client investment manager at investment management firm Walter Scott, explained how culture and sport are intertwined in Japanese culture perhaps as much as anywhere else on the planet.

Nick Freer is the founding director of the strategic corporate communications agency Freer Consultancy

According to Maclean’s: “As island nations, neither country is particularly accustomed to dominating world sport. Nonetheless, both have a long and rich history, at points far beyond their weight on the international stage. Perhaps because both rely on a relatively small national talent pool, they in turn need to develop their own playstyles. Both play the role of underdogs well, with a style characterized by sackcloths. spirit and passion that always seem to draw in the neutral.

Murdo also reminded me of Thomas Blake Glover, a Scottish merchant from Fraserburgh, immortalized as the “Scottish Samurai” in Alexander McKay’s book. The biographies of business figures across the centuries are certainly no better than Glover’s.

One of the very first Westerners to establish a business in Japan, more impressive is the widely held belief that Glover is one of the founding fathers of modern Japan itself.

In 1859, at the age of 21, he helped establish Jardine, Matheson & Co in Nagasaki, before starting his own trading company two years later. The 1860s were a prolific years for Glover, marketing ships and weapons to clans across Japan, introducing the country’s first steam locomotive, the Iron Duke, in 1865, then commissioning one of the first ships. modern warfare weapons to serve in the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Glover’s list of premieres goes on – coal mines and dry docks included, while praising the clans who toppled the regime in Japan. All great entrepreneurs fail at some point, the low point for Glover being bankruptcy in 1870.

But by God, this is Fraserburgh’s Thomas Blake Glover we’re talking about, and the determined young man was back with a punch, founding the shipbuilding company that became the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan, and co-founding what is now the Kirin Brewery Company. – if ever a guy deserved a cold beer after a long day at the office …

Presumably though, it was a few glasses of sake that were raised when Glover became the first non-Japanese recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun in 1908.

Nick Freer is the founding director of the strategic corporate communication agency Freer advice