Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 13:01 UK

Memorial for Japan skyscraper man

William Burton
William Burton is a figure more revered in his adopted homeland of Japan than his Scottish birthplace

An Edinburgh engineer worshipped as a hero in Japan is finally being honoured in his home city of Edinburgh.

William K Burton is feted in Japan for his work designing the country's first skyscraper and clean water systems for its cities in the 1800s.

His work helped Japan beat disease and become an industrialised nation.

A bench is to be unveiled on Saturday at Edinburgh Napier University's Craig House garden, which used to be his family home.

The event commemorates the 110th anniversary of his death.

Delegates from Japan and descendants of Burton will join Edinburgh's Deputy Lord Provost Rob Munn at the ceremony.

William Burton's overall contributions to modern Japan are beyond measure but he remains a figure more revered in his adopted homeland than here in Scotland
Jenny Rees
Edinburgh Napier University

His great-grandson Kevin Masaya Kmetz will attend the ceremony, playing a three-stringed Japanese lute called the Tsugaru-Shamisen, as a tribute.

Each year people in Japan still gather at his tomb in Tokyo to lay flowers and sing Scottish folk songs in his honour.

Organiser Alan Wilson, a member of The Scottish Collaborative Committee for William K Burton's Memorial 2009, said: "His work transformed the face of Japan and over the decades saved tens of thousands of lives.

"He was a great Scottish engineer and pioneer in an age during which we excelled at producing both.

"This memorial is a fitting reminder of the man in his birthplace, but it should also be an inspiration to young people at Edinburgh Napier University and stand as a mark of the friendship between Japan and Scotland."

Jenny Rees, vice principal at Edinburgh Napier University said: "William Burton's overall contributions to modern Japan are beyond measure but he remains a figure more revered in his adopted homeland than here in Scotland.

"We are delighted, therefore, to be able to play a part in ensuring his achievements are more widely recognised in the country of his birth."



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