In 1863, Thomas Blake Glover helped the Chōshū Five travel to London on Jardine Matheson ships. He also helped send fifteen trainees from Satsuma under Godai Tomoatsu in 1865. He was also responsible in 1868 for bringing the first steam railway locomotive, called “Iron Duke”, to Japan, which he demonstrated on an eight-mile track in the Ōura district.
As Glover had assisted in toppling the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Boshin War, he had cordial relations with the new Meiji government. These links led to his being responsible for commissioning one of the first warships in the Imperial Japanese Navy (the Jo Sho Maru, later called Ryūjō Maru), which was built by Alexander Hall and Company in Aberdeen and launched on 27 March 1869. Glover also commissioned the smaller Hosho Maru for the navy and the Kagoshima for the Satsuma clan from the same Aberdeen shipyard.
In 1868, Glover made a contract with the Nabeshima clan of Saga Domain in Hizen Province and began to develop Japan’s first coal mine at Takashima. He also brought the first dry dock to Japan.
Thomas Glover went bankrupt in 1870, but he stayed in Japan to manage the Takashima coal mine after the Restoration for the mine’s Dutch owners until it was taken over by the Meiji government. In 1881, the mine was acquired by Iwasaki Yatarō.
Glover was a key figure in the industrialisation of Japan, helping to found the shipbuilding company which was later to become the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan. Negotiating the sale of William Copeland’s Spring Valley Brewery in Yokohama, Glover also helped establish the Japan Brewery Company, which later became the major Kirin Brewery Company, Ltd. An urban myth has it that the moustache of the mythical creature featured on Kirin beer labels is in fact a tribute to Glover (who sported a similar moustache).
In recognition of these achievements, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (second class).
Thomas Glover died at his home in Tokyo, but was buried at the Sakamoto International Cemetery in Nagasaki.