Thomas Blake Glover, born in Fraserborough in Aberedeenshire, arrived in Nagasaki in 1859 aged 21, 50 years after the last Carruthers chief died and at the latter stages of the Tokugawa Shogunate. He went on to provide technical knowledge and expertise in shipbuilding and mining. He ordered three warships from his home in Aberdeen which was the start of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Glover also founded the Kirin Brewery, which still produces what is considered the premier beer in Japan.
He was also instrumental in Japan’s first Railway and was heavily involved in sending the sons of leading Japanese families to Britain to study. This included Hirobumi Ito, Japans first Prime Minister. Glover became the first non-Japanese ever to be awarded the Order of the Rising Son, Japans top civilian honour, which is bestowed by his Imperial Majesty himself.
Order of the Scottish Samurai (OSS)
In an article dated, December 2018 by C Bryan Jones, published in the magazine of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan the Order of the Scottish Samurai was discussed. He states ” Inspired by Fraserburgh-born merchant Thomas Blake Glover, who arrived in Nagasaki in 1859 and founded his own firm, Glover Trading Co., the Order of the Scottish Samurai Awards celebrates those who serve and excel.
Glover, who helped found Mitsubishi Corporation and build Japan’s first modern shipyards, was the first foreigner decorated by the Japanese government. In 1908, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (2nd Class). Because of his impact on Japanese society and the respect he earned, Glover became known as the Scottish Samurai.
Wishing to have a reciprocal honour, and being stirred by Glover’s story, Ronnie Watt OBE created the Order of the Scottish Samurai in 1994. The award comes in two categories—Samurai and Shogun—and is given annually. This year, at a ceremony held at the British Embassy Tokyo on 23 October, British Chamber of Commerce in Japan Executive Director Lori Henderson MBE received the Shogun award while British Council Director Matt Burney and Ambassador to Japan Paul Madden CMG were given the Great Shogun award.
“It’s a fabulous and special honour to receive something that connects your home country and the country that’s become your home”, Henderson told ACUMEN. “I think that’s even more relevant at a time when Japan is in the global spotlight. To have a delegation come over from Scotland with no business agenda—no agenda other than to celebrate the great relationships that the two countries have, not least with the rugby World Cup on the horizon—is such a heart-warming thing”.
Winning is more than just a one-time honour. It is akin to becoming part of a family as past recipients play a key role in choosing who receives the Scottish Samurai Award. Each year, they are invited to nominate those who they believe are worthy. A committee then examines the work and achievements of the nominees and selects winners in each category. While the award was originally created to strengthen friendship and links between Scotland and Japan, recipients need not be Scottish nor Japanese.
Given for distinguished service in any area of activity, whether local, national or international. The recipient will have demonstrated a commitment and dedication rarely seen and played a conspicuous role in their field. They will have made a distinguished contribution to their area of expertise, where their work far exceeds what would normally be expected.
Recognising the ultimate achievement in a particular field, the Shogun is given to someone who has made a pre-eminent contribution in any area of activity, whether local, national, or international. Their work will be recognised as both inspirational and significant, as well as demonstrating sustained commitment and leadership.
Each section includes within in it, subsections reflecting the Japanese military structure during the era of the Tokugawa Shogunate and allows post nominals letters in English and Japaese kanji to be used:
Samurai (OSS 伝説)
Elite Samurai (OSS 伝説)
Legendary Samurai (OSS 伝説)
Daimyo (OSS 大名)
Shogun (OSS 将軍)
Great Shogun (OSS 大将軍)
Hatamoto (OSS 旗本)
Taisho (OSS 大将)
Honorary Great Taisho (OSS 大将)
Great Taisho (OSS 大将)
The Awarding and Executive Committee of the Order includes:
- Ronnie Watt OBE ORS (Founder)
- Lord Bruce (Heir to the Earldom of Elgin and Chief apparent to the Family Bruce)
- Compton Ross (Scottish Film Producer)
- Stewart Spencer (Hotelier)
- Daisuke Matsunaga (Consul General of Japan)
- Hajime Kitoaka (Former Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh)
- Matsaka Tarahara (Former Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh)
- Hayley Bloodworth (Lawyer)
- Chris Davidson (Oil Industry)
- Charles Abel (Musician)
This years awards will again take place at Broomhall House in Fife, Scotland, ancestral home of the family Bruce.
Some of the recipients of the Order of the Scottish Samurai since its inception, include and in no particular order nor order of merit;
- Earl of Elgin: 11th Earl of Elgin & 15th of Kincardine (Lord Andrew Douglas Alexander Thomas Bruce), for services to the nation.
- Mr Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, fir services to international relations.
- Mr. Natsu Yamaguchi. Member of the Japanese Parliament, for services to the community.
- Sir Chay Blyth CBE, for services to Scotland, for services to pioneering and adventure.
- Mr Michael Dreelan: for services to engineering, culture and heritage.
- Dame Prof. Anne Glover, for services to science.
- Archbishop Lorenzo Casati, His Eminence, Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Abroad and Archbishop of Palermo and All Italy, Grand Master of the Confraternity of the Knights of the Most Holy Trinity, for services to the community.
- Mr Albert Thomson: Founder of the Grampian Police Diced Cap Charitable Trust, for services to public service.
- Prof. Alan Spence ORS, for services to the arts and education.
- Prof Darren Ashmore, for services to arts & culture between Scotland and Japan.
- Mr Tommy Dreelan, Celtic Speed Racing Team, for services to sport.
- Mr Gordon Casely, for services to hearldry.
- Mr Rumiko Ishigami (Japan), for services to Scotland and Japan.
- Prof. Andy Porter, for services to medical research.
- Ms Joanna Lumley, Actress, for services to the community.
- Dr. George Carruthers, FSA Scot, for services to healthcare and border clan history.
- Mr Billy Connolly, Comedian, Musician, Actor & television documentarist, for services to the community.
- Mr John Mullin, (USA), for services to martial arts, worldwide.
- Mr Paul O’Conner MBE, for services to Scotland and the community.
- Miss Becca Hobart, for services to traditional highland dance.
- Mr Don Owen, (Canada), for services to martial arts, worldwide.
- Dr Trevor Runcie, Computer Scientist, software developer, for services to science.
- Mr Barney Crockett, Lord Provost of Aberdeen, for services to Japan and Scotland.
- Mr Willam Reed, Japanologist, master of traditional Japanese arts, language and culture, for services to Japan – Scottish relations.
- Dr. Irene Watt, for services to music, the arts, Scotland and Japan.
- The Very Reverend Professor Iain Torrence Kt, for services to Scotland and the community.
- Mr Stewart Devine MBE, for services to the community and to Scotland.
- Mr Colin Taylor, Lord Dean of Guild of the Burgesses of Aberdeen, for services to business and the local community.
- Mr Etsuko Yamazaki (Japan), for services to martial arts, Scotland and Japan.
- Sir Ian Wood CBE, for services to Scotland.
- Dr. Clive Layton, author, for services to martial arts.
- Dr Tom Tait, for services to the community and specialist teaching.
- Mr Mike Mitchell, Actor, twice Mr. Universe, 5 times World Body Building Champion, for services to health.
- Mr Urs Matthias Zachman (Germany) Professor of Modern Japanese Culture and History at Freie Universität Berlin, for services to international exchange.
About Ronnie Watt OBE ORS 9th Dan
Ronnie Watt’s name is well known not only in his home of Aberdenshire but throught the world as one of the most senior and highly respected karate men in the world today. It is synonymous with excellance and conjoining the peoples of Scotland and Japan.
He was awarded the Order of the British Empire by the Queen and the Order of the Rising Sun from the Emeror of Japan for his good works. In 2014, he was awarded a Commerative Medal by the Trnava Self-Governing Region (Slovenia) and is both a Knight of the Order of the Holy Trinity (Italy) and a Knight Commander Cavaleiro de Casa Real Portuguesa, (Portugal)
He holds a 9th Dan in Shotokan Karate and the shogo; Hanshi. Hanshi (範士) refers to a senior expert considered a “teacher of teachers”. This title is used by many different arts for the top few instructors of that style, and is sometimes translated “Grand Master”. Awarded to 8th Dan and above. Having trained continuously since the early 1960’s, his grading record is one of pedigree and excellance and by some of the most senior Japanese and Western Shotokan instructors in the world.
He is also the Director of Shotokan for the World Karate Confederation and an Executive Director and Fellow of the International Shotokan Karate Shihankai, an international acadamy of senior Shotokan karate-ka.
Earl of Elgin and links to Japan
The involvement of the family of Bruce internationally is well known both in Scotland and abroad, but in the context of this award, what are their links with Japan and the OSS?
The 8th Earl of Elgin opened Japan to British trade and influence when, as High Commissioner to China, he visited Japan in August 1858 and signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Japan thereafter embarked on its breathtaking programme of modernisation which offered many opportunities for British merchants and engineers to participate. One such individual was Thomas Blake Glover.
The 8th Earl of Elgin was a direct descendant of King Robert the Bruce who won the Battle of Banockburn against Edward 1st of England (1315). His father the 7th Earl acquired the Parthenon Sculptures (Elgin Marbles), which now adorn the walls of the British Museum in London. The 8th Earl’s other achievements included being the the Governor General of Canada and Viceroy of India. But is it for his role in establishing the relationship between the UK and Japan that he is remembered here.
The current Earl of Elgin has close ties with Canada. Since 1970, he has been Colonel-in-Chief of the 31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgins) and was Hon. Colonel of the 153 (Highland) Transport Regiment, from 1976 to 1986.
Lord Elgin is also the Honorary Colonel of No 7 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, which is affiliated with the Elgin Regiment, but is not part of it. No 7 is the oldest extant Corps in the RC(Army)C of Canada and one of only two that have Colours. The Corps wears distinctive shoulder flashes backed with the Bruce tartan. (Not even the Elgin Regiment wears them.