Samurai in Scotland

May 10, 1996

A memorandum of agreement to promote education and research collaboration bet- ween Strathclyde and Tokyo Universities might not sound the raciest of news, but it has uncovered an intriguing tale of a samurai on a secret mission to Scotland over 100 years ago.

The two institutions marked the agreement by launching the Henry Dyer Symposium on Industrial Globalisation, Henry Dyer having been a student at Anderson's University, a previous incarnation of Strathclyde, during the 1860s.

At that point, Japan was beginning to emerge from a period of self-imposed isolation under the Shogunate into the Meiji restoration, and the Meiji secretly sent five samurai to the United Kingdom to catch up with developments following the industrial revolution.

Glasgow's reputation as an industrial and educational centre brought one of them, Yozo Yamao, north to work in the Napier Shipyard.

He studied at Anderson's University where he met Dyer, also a Napier apprentice, and through this link, Dyer was later invited to Japan to establish the Imperial College of Engineering.

So Japan's technological pre-eminence is down to a Glaswegian.

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