Now a towering testament to the brilliance of Scottish engineering is poised for global recognition as part of Japan's industrial heritage.
The Japanese government is seeking world heritage status for the giant cantilever crane, built in Motherwell, which has dominated Nagasaki's bustling docks for more than a century.
It is among a group of 28 sites important to the rise of industrial Japan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which will form a Unesco world heritage bid in January.
Dr Miles Oglethorpe, a Historic Scotland expert who has advised the Japanese on the history of the crane, said the bid was a "poignant" tribute to Scotland's role in the country's modernisation.
He said: "It's great to see such an important icon of Scottish engineering prowess standing so proudly in among Mitsubishi's bustling Nagasaki shipyard.
"The fact that it is still working and in such good condition reflects both the skills of the Japanese workforce over more than a century, and the respect they have for such a wonderful historic structure.
"It's more than appropriate that Japan should be putting forward a nomination for World Heritage that celebrates its unique industrial heritage, and all the more poignant for us, given the key role Scots played in helping Japan emerge from isolation to become a modern nation in the late 19th and early 20th century."
He added: "The fact that the Scottish Giant Cantilever crane sits at the heart of the nomination is therefore especially significant.'
Dr Oglethorpe, Historic Scotland's head of industrial heritage, travelled to Japan in March with another expert, Dr Brian Newman of the University of Newcastle, to advise on the history of the crane.
The story behind it reflects Scotland's role as a global engineering powerhouse at the start of the 20th century.