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.