The castle town of Okayama, in Western Honshu, is renowned across the country as the site of one of Japan’s ‘Three Great Gardens’ or Nihon Sanmeien. Originally laid out in 1687, the Koraku-en comprises acres of lawns and ponds interspersed by watercourses and pathways. Its landscaped grounds are filled with rockeries, azaleas, clumps of rhododendrons and fruit trees that look particularly exquisite in the blossom season. Slip off your shoes and relax in the quintessentially Japanese ryuten rest house, a wooden structure without walls where a stream babbles through a series of carefully placed stones.

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