New Book: The Nagasaki British Consulate 1859-1955

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The latest burst of words from Flying Crane Press is The Nagasaki British Consulate 1859-1955 (129 pages). It is the only major work in any language on the history of the Nagasaki British Consulate—the first British diplomatic station established in Japan and the last to close in the shadow of World War II.

The Nagasaki British Consulate was established on June 13, 1859, three weeks before Japan opened its doors to the world and embarked on a new era of international exchange. It was the first appearance of the Union Jack on Japanese soil since the closure of the English East India Company factory at Hirado in 1623. Over the following decades, the Nagasaki British Consulate served as a node on the vast networks of the British Empire and a symbol of British-Japanese cooperation in East Asia, watching over the growth of Nagasaki as an international port and the dramatic rise of Japan as a world power.

Richly illustrated and annotated, the book follows the turbulent history of the consulate from the first years in the Buddhist temple Myōgyōji, through moves from rented premises in Higashiyamate to its final location on the Nagasaki waterfront, and finally to the abandonment of the consulate soon after the outbreak of World War II and the sale of the buildings to Nagasaki City in 1955. Along the way, the author sheds light on the activities of successive consuls, including George S. Morrison (who suffered a nervous breakdown during the danger-ridden pre-Meiji years), Montague B.T. Paske-Smith (known for his ground-breaking book Western Barbarians in Japan and Formosa in Tokugawa Days, 1603-1868) and Ferdinand C. Greatrex, a botanist who served as consul from 1927 to 1945 only to be arrested and confined by Japanese military police after the outbreak of war. An article by the author on Ferdinand C. Greatrex, the last British Consul, can be found here.

The final chapter of the book discusses the fate of the former Nagasaki British Consulate in the postwar years, when British authorities abolished the former Japan Consular Service and relinquished former consular premises. The buildings in Nagasaki were purchased by local government in 1955 and converted into a science museum and later an art gallery. These measures resulted in the physical preservation of the buildings, but the history of the consulate was gradually forgotten, even after the designation of the former Nagasaki British Consulate as a National Important Cultural Property and a component of the Higashiyamate and Minamiyamate Historic Preservation District.

The former Nagasaki British Consulate is currently closed to the public and undergoing a major renovation to make the buildings earthquake-proof. To date, the value of the former consulate has been measured almost exclusively in its unique architectural characteristics. It is hoped that, after re-opening, Nagasaki City will use the premises as a place to introduce the history of the consulate and the role it played in Japanese-British relations.

The Nagasaki British Consulate 1859-1955 is available for purchase at Amazon.

For orders in Japan, please contact Flying Crane Press at flyingcranepress@yahoo.co.jp

 

Dutch Cemetery Booklet

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As mentioned in a previous post, Flying Crane Press was commissioned by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Tokyo to produce booklets in English and Japanese on the Dutch Cemetery at Goshinji Temple in the Inasa neighborhood of Nagasaki.

The booklets, entitled “The Dutch Cemetery at Goshinji: Stories of Exchange and Cooperation,” reached completion in time for distribution at the ceremony to celebrate the installation of the Dejima Main Gate Bridge in November 2017, an event attended by several hundred people including members of the Dutch royal family and Japanese imperial family. The following is the booklet epilogue:

THE DUTCH CEMETERY AT GOSHINJI saw the burial of several hundred people from the time of its inception in 1654 until the last interment in 1870, and for the greater part of that more than two-century-long interval, it was the only cemetery in Japan allotted exclusively for the use of Europeans. Nearby was the huge Chinese cemetery, dating back to the early seventeenth century and studded with gravestones of the style of that country. In the final years of the Edo Period when Japan opened its doors to the world, a Russian naval cemetery and small multinational cemetery joined the potpourri, creating a virtually borderless patchwork of graveyards stretching across the hillside behind the temple. Over the years, the priests of Goshinji treated the foreign cemeteries in the same manner as their Japanese counterparts, offering invocations for the dead regardless of nationality or religion.

The Dagregisters and other historic documents of the Edo Period indicate that the vast majority of burials in the Dutch Cemetery were conducted without ceremony or the placement of grave markers. The remains of most of the deceased were interred in communal graves and may even have been removed periodically to make room for new burials.

Only forty-one gravestones exist today. A few are so eroded that the inscriptions are no longer legible, and eleven are simple headstones without inscriptions. Nevertheless, the Dutch Cemetery at Goshinji offers insights into life on the island of Deshima and the state of affairs during the turbulent years when people of the Netherlands and other countries assisted Japan in re-opening its doors and launching a project of modernization. The number of superlatives is remarkable: the oldest European gravestone in Japan, the oldest Russian and British graves, the oldest gravestone with a Christian inscription, the first gravestone of a European woman, and the gravestone of the first European child born and deceased in Japan.

The Dutch Cemetery suffered periods of neglect and disrepair in the ensuing years, but the government of the Netherlands, with the support of Goshinji and local authorities, repeatedly conducted repairs to the gravestones and to the walls and other structures surrounding the cemetery. Today, the gravestones and related historical documents provide a valuable foothold for further research

As a historic asset of great mutual value, the Dutch Cemetery at Goshinji will continue to enjoy the attention of future generations, speaking silently yet eloquently of the cosmopolitan history of Nagasaki and centuries of friendship and cooperation between the Netherlands and Japan.

 

The booklet can be obtained from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Tokyo. For further information contact the embassy’s department for Public Diplomacy, Political & Cultural Affairs: tok-ppc@minbuza.nl

Booklet on the Dutch Cemetery at Goshinji

Flying Crane Press has received a request from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Tokyo to produce booklets in English and Japanese on the Dutch Cemetery at Goshinji, a temple of the Pure Land Sect located in the Inasa neighborhood on the side of Nagasaki Harbor opposite the downtown area.

Opened in 1654, the cemetery served as a burial place for the residents of the Dejima Dutch Factory (trading post) during the Edo Period and for foreigners in general for a few years after the opening of Japan’s doors in 1859. A total of 41 grave markers remain, dating from 1778 to the last burial in 1870. The gravestone of Hendrik Godfried Duurkoop, the Dejima chief factor who died en route to Nagasaki in 1778, is the oldest European gravestone in Japan. The cemetery has been maintained over the years by cooperation among the government of the Netherlands, Goshinji and the local community.

The booklet will be distributed free of charge to commemorate the opening of the new Dejima Main Gate Bridge, scheduled for November 2017.

More soon!

The Former Glover House, World Heritage Site!

On July 5, the “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1484).

One of the 23 component sites is the former residence of Scottish entrepreneur Thomas B. Glover (1838-1911), who made significant contributions to Japanese industrialization and to the establishment of many of the other component sites.

The first book of Flying Crane Press, The Glover House: An Illustrated History, provides a concise biography of Thomas B. Glover and his family, a description of the dramatic history of the building, and information on its postwar career as Nagasaki’s foremost tourist attraction.

Click the “Publications” tab for details.

First book is now available!

Flying Crane Press is pleased to announce the publication of its first book The Glover House of Nagasaki: An Illustrated History, now available in local bookstores and also online. Please refer to the publications page for details.

Built in 1863 and remaining as the oldest Western-style building in Japan, the former Glover House is currently included in a tentative list of World Heritage Sites entitled “Sites of Japan Meiji Industrial Revolution: Kyushu, Yamaguchi and Related Areas.” The present publication provides the first concise description in English of the turbulent history of the house and the life and times of the people who once lived there. It also takes an objective look at the postwar career of the building as a tourist attraction known widely by the nickname “Madame Butterfly House.”

The author, Brian Burke-Gaffney, was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1950 and came to Japan in 1972. He is currently a professor of cultural history at the Nagasaki Institute of Applied Science and honorary director of Glover Garden. His publications include Starcrossed: A Biography of Madame Butterfly (EastBridge, 2004) and Nagasaki: The British Experience 1854-1945 (Global Oriental UK, 2009).

Greetings

Flying Crane Press is devoted to the communication of information and arts related to Nagasaki, the port city on the western edge of the Japanese archipelago that served for centuries as a “window” to the Eurasian continent and a melting pot for diverse cultures.

Launched in December 2014, Flying Crane Press takes its name from two sources, one Nagasaki’s old nickname tsuru no minato (crane harbor), the other Hikaku Daimyojin (Flying Crane Shrine), an ancient site of worship in the forest above the Nagasaki neighborhood of Narutaki where our office is located.

We will be adding information about publications and other projects as they come to fruition.

For now, best wishes from Nagasaki!

Brian Burke-Gaffney