The setting for the Puccini Opera “Madame Butterfly” is a house on a hill overlooking Nagasaki Harbor. Could this be the Glover House that inspired this Puccini masterpiece? This oldest Western-style wooden building in Japan was built in 1863, just some 25 years before Madame Butterfly was written in 1898. The Scottish merchant who owned and lived in this house likewise married a Japanese. Not a geisha though, as in the story, nor was the Japanese wife abandoned by Mr. Thomas Blake Glover. Rumor is rife that Glover and his Japanese wife adopted a son whose bio-mom was THE ex-geisha. And that’s where the story begins. Or ends.

Glover is credited for his significant contributions to Japan’s modernization particularly in the areas of shipbuilding, coal mining and other businesses. He lived with his Japanese wife in this famous, charming house. Today, the Garden is really an open-air museum cum park. The koi pond is on a promontory overlooking the harbor and many of the Western-style mansions have a clear, sharp view of the Nagasaki Bay especially from the second-floor balcony of the former Mitsubishi Dock House. Within this same park or garden, there is a lifesize statue of a kimono-clad Japanese lady with one hand on the shoulder of a young boy and the other hand seemingly pointing to something. For sure, this statue evokes memories of the Puccini opera.

Being a weekend, the park was teeming with visitors. Perhaps some were Sunday mass-goers from the nearby Oura church touted as the oldest wooden Gothic-style church in Japan. We didn’t have a chance to get inside this Church at the foot of Glover Garden that was dedicated to the 26 martyrs executed in nearby Nizhisaka Hill. Not among the 26 martyrs is San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint. San Lorenzo was with subsequent batches of martyrs. We couldn’t even take a decent shot of this church because of the scaffolding but Sunday worshippers must enjoy spending time in the park up on a hill. Don’t fret over the climb. There is a long-ish escalator to bring up park visitors.

There is a coffee and ice cream shop within Glover Garden. As soon as we spotted it, we “lost” our group. Just had to stop for that cone of Cremia goodness and milkiness. By the time we slurped the last spoonful of ice cream, we found our group. Or rather they found us! All’s well. 🍁🍂🍁

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