Nagasaki Glover Garden and Oura Church
About Nagasaki Glover Garden and Oura Church
Glover Garden (グラバー園, Glover-en) is located on the hill where Western merchants settled down after the end of Japanese government’s Seclusion Policy in 1853. It is a large sprawling garden which houses the Former Glover Residence and other relocated properties.
These other historical buildings formerly dotted around Nagasaki City and were then relocated to this garden. Some of these include residences of famous Westerners such as the Ringer, Walker and Alt.
Next to Glover Garden (Gate One), you will find the supposedly oldest church in Japan, Oura Church (大浦天主堂, Ōura Tenshudō). The church was also the first Western type building in Japan declared as a national treasure.
This Catholic church was built in 1864 to serve the growing community of foreign merchants in Nagasaki city then. It is also dedicated to the 26 Catholics executed in the city in 1597. You can visit the ‘Site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan‘ in Nagasaki.
Oura church was under construction when we were, hence we didn’t get a chance to visit. Do note that admission fee also includes entry into the museum about the history of Christianity in Japan.
- 8:00AM to 6:00PM, daily.
- 1,000 yen (S$12.30)
- Five minutes’ walk from Ouratenshudo-shita tram station on tram no. 5.
- 5-3 Minamiyamatecho Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki prefecture 850-0931
Glover Garden and Oura Church are next to each other, and it’s about 5 minutes walk from Ouratenshudo-shita Station. However, it seems like eternity before we found Glover Garden. The directional signage was not clear and the whole place seemed like a maze to us.
We walked through slopes of shops and weren’t sure if we were heading the right way! The climb up was real tiring for me. Good thing we wore good walking shoes, otherwise my feet would ache even faster.
It was a pity we arrived late in the day, about 3:45PM. The streets were already relatively quiet and a few shops seem to be closing for the day. By the time we were done with Glover Garden, the sky was dark and all the shops closed.
The shops look really interesting! I wished we had more time to explore. Along our way to the Glover Garden vicinity, we passed by this retro shop. I took a photo of it and the fierce uncle owner barked at me. Spot him in the photo below!
Entrance & Suggested Time to Visit
I would suggest half a day for Glover Garden and Oura Church. Buffer in some time for you to find your way. We were quite lost and didn’t even know we have arrived at Glover Garden. The ticketing office is not visible. We simply came across a tablet of stone with Japanese engraving and guessed it to be Glover Garden. However, I didn’t want to risk climbing another slope only to find out it’s not. Hence, I sent hubby ahead to recce first.
And…we finally reached! Good thing we ended up at the more common entrance, Gate No. 1 (near to Oura Church). The other gate is found at the other side of Glover Garden. Before I could pop the champagne, there were more steep slopes and steps to conquer after the ticketing office.
Oh and start the day early! In this way, you will have more time to shop around the area and avoid the cold evening weather. Being at high altitude, the strong wind made us tremble more in the winter night. Even my hubby who has a high threshold of cold, found it cold. See the frozen baby below.
- 8:00AM to 6:00PM, daily (until 8:00PM, 9:00PM, 9:30PM during summer and peak seasons, refer to their website.).
- Adult: 610yen (S$7.50), but for some reason we were charged group pricing of 510yen (S$6.20). Probably because we were there near to their closing time.
- Take streetcar to Ouratenshudo-shita Station and walk about 5 mins.
Former Glover Residence
The main attraction of Glover Garden is the Former Glover Residence. It is a UNESCO World Heritage under ‘Sites of Japan’s Meiji Restoration: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining’.
This residence used to belong to Thomas Blake Glover and is now the oldest wooden Western-style residence in Japan. Mr Glover was a Scottish merchant and is considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern Japan, contributing to the industrialisation of Japan in shipbuilding, coal mining, and other areas.
*Former Glover Residence will undergo maintenance during most of 2020 and visitors will not be able to enter the Residence. A temporary observation deck will be constructed. Preservation was not done since the 1968, so it’s a chance to see this important work first hand.
Walking around Glover Garden
We headed straight up to the top of Glover Garden, where the Glover residence is located before making our way down. Thank goodness that there is a travelator for us to go all the way up.
Glover Residence is situated at the peak, overlooking Nagasaki Harbour. Climb up to level two of the house to have a good view. Otherwise, head to the lookout area to enjoy the stunning view of Nagasaki City.
The warmly lit residence and its surroundings gives off a romantic atmosphere in the cooling weather. Did Mr Glover always had the time to take a peaceful walk around the garden? To enjoy the night ambience after dinner in the residence?
This beautiful part of Glover Garden resembles the set in Puccini’s opera, and thus known as the “Madame Butterfly” house. Walk around and spot the statues of Puccini (the composer) and Miura Tamaki (actress) of the opera.
After enjoying the extraordinary view, walk along cobbled walking trails and head down to explore mansions owned by other Western merchants. Have a look at the well-preserved rooms, and witness the lifestyle of the wealthy inhabitants.
There are also other buildings to look at, such as former Mitsubishi No.2 Dock House and Gatehouse of a former school. Many of these mansions and buildings were relocated from other parts of Nagasaki.
In addition to the historic buildings, you can also rest at a cafe or shop in a souvenir shop located within the garden grounds. You will also notice that Glover garden is lush with flowers and greenery, with beautiful wall fountains of trickling water.
Even though we had to brave the cold as the sky turned dark, we got to see the lighted up Glover Garden. Beautifully illuminated. We even caught a light illumination show where lights wrapping around the trees danced to the music. Watched a snippet of it in the video below. :)