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Former Glover House at World Heritage site in Nagasaki renovated

The exterior of the renovated Former Glover House is seen in Nagasaki on Nov. 17, 2021. (Mainichi/Atsuki Nakayama)

NAGASAKI -- The Former Glover House, a popular tourist spot in this southwest Japan city that was home to British merchant Thomas Glover (1838-1911), has been renovated, with attention paid to its history and lived-in ambience.

    The house is in Glover Garden, which is part of the "Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining" on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage list. The repaired structure was unveiled to the media on Nov. 17, a day ahead of its reopening to the public.

    Built in 1863, the house is the oldest existing Western-style wooden architecture in Japan.

    While the former residence had been a representative tourist spot in Nagasaki, the building had aged, prompting the first large-scale restoration in half a century, which began three years ago. Besides anti-seismic reinforcement and repainting of the exterior walls, the interior was renovated based on the latest historical research. Displays inside the house were also refurbished.

    In the latest renovation, a letter addressed to Glover from his son Tomisaburo Kuraba revealed that a room that had been used as part of a tour route before the renovation was actually a bedroom, so a bed was newly placed there. A new section was set up to introduce the appeal of the building through videos applying augmented reality technology.

    Brian Burke-Gaffney, 71, the honorary director of the Glover Garden and a specially appointed professor of historical sociology at the Nagasaki Institute of Applied Science, oversaw the renewal. He explained that the residence at the time was recreated with authenticity in mind, adding that he is happy to have turned the facility into a museum helping people learn about history, and intends to further enhance the displays.

    The entire Glover Garden is slated to reopen in late December.

    (Japanese original by Atsuki Nakayama, Nagasaki Bureau)

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