Japan-Scotland Historical Relationship

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There have long been ties between Japan and Scotland, and the following are some of the key individuals and events.

Bird, Isabella
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.

Black, John Reddie 
John Reddie Black was born in Scotland in January 1827. As a gifted writer, he first became editor-in-chief of the Japan Herald, the first weekly English language newspaper in Japan before deciding to found his own newspapers. Black launched the Japan Gazette, Yokohama’s first evening newspaper, and an overseas fortnightly paper, the Japan Gazette Fortnightly, in October 1867. In 1870, he began work on the publication of ‘An Illustrated Fortnightly Newspaper’, The Far East. This paper aimed to promote foreign interest in Japanese customs, art, and history. Black also aspired to produce a newspaper in the Japanese language, which resulted in the publication of the Nisshin Shinjishi (The Reliable Daily News) in 1872.
Following disputes with the Japanese government over censorship, Black moved to Shanghai in 1876, where he published the Far East, New Series and launched the Shanghai Mercury in 1879. Black travelled to Japan one last time in April 1879 in the hope of relieving his ailing health; he passed away in June the following year. It was in this short intervening period that Black worked on his incomplete book Young Japan: From Yokohama and Yedo, 1858-1879.

Brown, Captain Albert Richard 
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.

Brunton, Richard Henry 
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.

Cowan, Rita 
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.

Dixon, James Main 
James Main Dixon was a Scottish-American born in Paisley in 1856. Graduating from the University of St Andrews in 1879, Dixon was a Professor of English and Secretary to the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo from 1879 to 1886. Dixon then went on to serve in the same capacity in the Imperial University of Japan from 1886 to 1892. Dixon was also made a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh while he was resident in Japan in 1885.

Dyer, Henry 
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.

Ewing, Sir James Alfred 
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.

Fraser, Hugh
 Born in Balnain, Inverness in 1837, Hugh Fraser studied at Eton from 1849 and began his first diplomatic role (as an unpaid attaché at The Hague) in 1855. This role was the first of many in a varied diplomatic career that saw Fraser stationed in Dresden, Copenhagen, Guatemala, Stockholm, Peking, Rome (where Fraser met and married his wife Mary Crawford), Chile, and eventually Tokyo in May 1889.
Fraser’s role in Japan was that of Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary; he received the generous salary of £4000 per year, possibly indicating his seniority. The most pressing issue of Fraser’s ministership was the revision of the unequal treaties imposed on Japan by Britain (and other western powers) in the mid-19th century.

Glover, Thomas Blake 
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.

Gray, Thomas Lomar
Thomas Lomar Gray was born in Lochgelly, Fife in 1850 and graduated with a BSc in Engineering from the University of Glasgow in 1878. The following year Gray took up a post as Professor of Telegraph Engineering and Demonstrator in the physical laboratories in the Imperial University of Tokyo.
Gray contributed many papers on heat and electricity experiments to the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh in this period. Gray also became interested in seismology while living in Japan; resultantly he published papers on that topic and developed new seismography instruments as well. Some scientists have argued that the seismographs developed by Gray, James Ewing, and John Milne constitute the first modern seismographs.

Hornel, E.A 
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.

Itō, Hirobumi
Born in Chōshū domain in 1841, the young Itō Hirobumi began studying under Yoshida Shōin. In the late 1850s and early 1860s, he became associated with sonnō jōi samurai and joined them in attacking the British legation based in Edo. In 1863, Itō was elevated to the samurai class and, on the orders of his daimyo, went with four other Chōshū students to study in the United Kingdom.
Unlike the leader of their company, Yamao Yōzō, Itō returned to Japan after only one year in the UK. Itō hoped to broker a peace between the British and Chōshū domain, who were warring over the assassination of British officials. However, Itō had grown disenchanted with the antiforeign movement and instead devoted himself to the overthrow of the Shōgunate and the restoration of Imperial rule. After the Meiji restoration of 1868, Itō found himself appointed to a number of prominent government posts.
It was in a consultancy role in the Ministry of Public Works that Itō would meet and liaise with Richard Henry Brunton. From 1871 to 1873, Itō accompanied Iwakura Tomomi on a fact-finding mission to Europe and the United States. Through acquaintances in London, Itō made contact with Professor William John Macquorn Rankine of Glasgow University. Itō later went on to help draft the Meiji Constitution, serve as Japan’s first Prime Minister, and eventually died in office as Governor General of Korea.

The 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.

Japan 2001
From May 2001 until March 2002, a series of events were held throughout the UK, in a festival known as Japan 2001. It's purpose was to celebrate and expand the links between the two countries and to introduce Japanese culture to a wider UK audience. In Scotland alone, there were over 150 events, covering all aspects of Japanese lifestyle, art, music, and dance.

MacFarlane, Charles
Charles MacFarlane was born in 1799, likely in the Scottish highlands. As a consequence of having a very well-travelled upbringing, MacFarlane became an historian and travel writer. It was in this career that MacFarlane wrote (among other works) Japan: An Account, Geographical and Historical, one of the earlier British accounts of Japan. Interestingly, there is no evidence that MacFarlane went to Japan himself, however. MacFarlane’s work is a compilation of resources on Japan collected by military officer James Drummond, who had been to Nagasaki when he was a child.

Murdoch, James
James Murdoch was born in Fetteresso, Kincardineshire, Scotland in 1856. After a brief period lecturing in Australia, Murdoch then took up a lectureship in European History in Japan in 1889 at the First Higher School, a preparatory school for Tokyo Imperial University. Around this time Murdoch wrote a series of articles, and authored a short story collection titled From Australia and Japan. In 1893, Murdoch went to London to carry out research on Japan for the British Museum. After five months of working on this research, Murdoch moved back to Japan in 1894. In 1903 Murdoch published a book on Japanese history that was based on his earlier research at the British Museum.
Murdoch’s teaching contract lapsed in 1908 and he supported himself by writing articles for the Kobe chronicle, and he released the second volume of his Japanese history series. Later in life Murdoch accepted a teaching post at the University of Sydney that allowed him to visit Japan annually in order to report back on Japanese public opinion and foreign policy. Murdoch appears to have occupied a distinctly pro-Japanese section of Australian society.

Naruhito, Emperor of Japan
Born in Tokyo in 1960, His Royal Highness Emperor Naruhito is an avid student of history and he briefly visited Scotland in August and September 1983 before beginning his two year honorary degree course at Oxford University.
During his stay in Scotland, Emperor Naruhito resided in Tyninghame Castle and Scone Palace, the latter of which Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko had previously visited in 1976. Emperor Naruhito attended the military tattoo at Edinburgh Castle, met with students from the University of Edinburgh, visited the Palace of Holyrood, and attended two concerts that were a part of the Edinburgh Festival.

Oliphant, Laurence 
Born in Cape Town to Scottish parents in 1829, Laurence Oliphant was raised by his mother in his ancestral home in Perthshire. The young Oliphant travelled with his parents around Europe and Asia while his father held a number of diplomatic posts. His main occupation throughout life seems to have been writing books about his travels. He accompanied James Bruce, the eighth earl Elgin, when the latter was commissioned to lead a British diplomatic mission to China and Japan in 1857, Oliphant resumed his formed role as Elgin’s private secretary.
When Oliphant visited Japan for the first time in 1858 he remarked that Japanese people were ‘“the most good-tempered people I ever met.”’ On his return to Britain Oliphant published an account of his time as a part of Lord Elgin’s diplomatic mission to China: Narrative of the Earl of Elgin’s mission to China and Japan in the years 1857, ’58 and ’59.  While writing his book on China and Japan, Oliphant gave a series of lectures on Japan to academic societies based in Edinburgh, Dunfermline, Aberdeen, Stirling, Greenock, and Glasgow.
In 1865, Oliphant, now an MP, arranged meetings between Japanese students from Satsuma and ministers in the in foreign office. This allowed them to change Britain’s policy so that all future commercial treaties with Japan had to be ratified by the Emperor and not the Tokugawa Shōgun.

Perry, John
John Perry was born in 1850 in Ireland to an Irish father and a Scottish mother. After having studied engineering from a young age, Perry eventually went on to teach physics and mathematics at the University of Glasgow. It was while he was teaching in this position that Perry’s colleagues recommended him for a Professorship in Civil Engineering at the newly founded Imperial College in Tokyo.
Perry was hired on a fixed term contract from September 9th 1875 to September 8th 1878, and he lectured primarily on steam power, mechanical engineering, and hydrodynamics. During his spare time, Perry also researched electricity in collaboration with his colleague W.E. Ayrton and produced a number of papers on the subject. Perry’s experience of frequent earthquakes while living in Japan also left him with a lifelong interest in seismology.

Rankine, William John Macquorn
W.J.M. Rankine was born in July 1820 in Edinburgh and throughout his life studied natural philosophy, natural history, civil engineering, and physics at the University of Edinburgh. After accepting a Professorship at the University of Glasgow, Rankine later met Itō Hirobumi when the latter visited the United Kingdom with the Iwakura Mission. It was on Rankine’s recommendation that the future first Prime Minister of Japan offered the young Henry Dyer a teaching role at the Imperial College of Engineering.

Shand, Alexander Innes
Born in Fettercairn, Kincardineshire in 1832, Alexander Innes Shand had a great interest in Japan despite never having visited the country. When working at the 1873 Vienna International Exhibition as a correspondent for The Times, Shand met members of a Japanese delegation and developed an interest in the “Japanese Revolution”, as he called it. As a result, Shand wrote an article entitled “The Romance of the Japanese Revolution” that was published in Blackwood’s Magazine the following year.

Sim, Alexander Cameron
Alexander Cameron Sim was a Scottish pharmacist who lived in Kobe for thirty years. During that period he founded the Kobe Regatta and Athletic Club in September, 1871. Sim is also credited with the invention of the popular Japanese soft drink Ramune.

Stevenson, Robert Louis
Born in Edinburgh in 1850, Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson never visited Japan.  Regardless Stevenson’s writing exemplifies the literary and cultural vogue that Japan entered into in Britain from the 1860s to the 1880s. Stevenson introduced the life of Yoshida Shōin to British readers in an article in Cornhill Magazine in 1880. Shōin was a late Tokugawa period intellectual who ran the private school that Itō Hirobumi (see above) attended as a young man.

Stirling, Admiral Sir James
Admiral Sir James Stirling was born in Drumpellier, Lanarkshire in 1791. Enlisting in the Royal Navy at just 12 years old, Stirling gained prominence when he founded (and served as the first governor of) the colony of Western Australia. Stirling went to Japan in 1854 in his later role as Commander-in-Chief of the British East Indies fleet.
Though Stirling’s visit closely followed Commodore Matthew Perry’s, he was not intending to negotiate a treaty of commerce and friendship as the Americans had done. As Britain was at war with Russia, Stirling was primarily interested in securing the use of certain Japanese ports for British warships in order to better hunt down Russian forces in the pacific. Despite this, however, the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty of 1854 had clauses similar to the American one, such as the opening of certain ports to British merchant seamen.

Takamine, Jōkichi 
Takamine Jōkichi was born in Takaoka in 1854, just a few short months after Commodore Matthew Perry’s diplomatic mission to Japan. During the Bakumatsu period, the daimyo of Kaga domain wanted his subjects to gain knowledge of western learning and so set up a scheme whereby promising students could go to Nagasaki to learn English. Takamine was a part of that scheme as a young boy, and then continued to travel around Japan. Jōkichi also went on the Imperial College of Engineering and was among the first cohort of Japanese university graduates in 1879.
Takamine attained a three year-year government scholarship the following year and went on to study industrial chemistry and electrochemistry at Glasgow University and the Andersonian University. Returning to Japan in 1883, Takamine joined the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, and was tasked with modernising the manufacture of rice paper, sake, and indigo. Takamine also went on to have a world famous career for his development of enzymes that were used to quicken the whisky distilling process, and which also had a secondary application as a digestive aid. Perhaps Takamine’s greatest achievement, however, was the development of the process by which adrenaline could be isolated from the adrenal glands and produced artificially.

Taketsuru, Masataka 
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.

Watanabe, Kaichi 
Watanabe was born in Tokyo in 1858 and graduated from the Imperial College of Engineering there in 1884. Following his graduation, Watanabe studied Civil Engineering at the University of Glasgow and graduated in 1886. Watanabe was then commissioned to work as a construction foreman on the Forth Rail Bridge, which was designed by the Sir Benjamin Baker and Sir John Fowler. Watanabe demonstrated the cantilever design of the rail bridge in an 1887 photograph where he perches between Baker and Fowler. In 2007, the Royal Bank of Scotland adopted this photograph in its design for a new £20 note, which also shows the Forth Rail Bridge. Returning to Japan in 1888, Watanabe went on to work for a series of railway, gas, and shipyard companies, and was awarded a PhD in engineering from the Imperial College of Engineering in 1899.

Yamao, Yōzō 
Yamao was born in 1837 in Akiu in Suo domain. Having initially been largely educated in Edo, Yamao was one of five Chōshū-based students who were smuggled out of Japan in 1863 with the help of Thomas Blake Glover.
Yamao was the leader of the Chōshū students in Britain. Yamao’s time in Britain also led him to become less sympathetic to the sonnō jōi movement. Yamao later studied in the same class as Henry Dyer in Anderson’s College at Glasgow University, though the two men were not formally acquainted. Despite this, however, when Dyer arrived in Japan in 1873, he met and remembered Yamao, who was then the acting Vice-Minister of Public Works. Yamao was later made a Viscount and went on to become the President of the Institution of Engineers of Japan.