"The most beautiful scenic view in Japan," was how the woman in the temple in Tomonoura translated it when I asked her the meaning of some calligraphy carved into a wooden sign mounted on the wall.

And as views go it was so pleasing that I sat in silence on the tatami mats for a long time taking in the panoramic vista of the deep blue Seto Inland Sea dotted with lush-green, tree-covered islands.

Directly in front of me, as my eyes roamed over rocky little Benten Island with its torii gate and small pagoda, I could well understand what had inspired a Korean envoy to express such a fulsome sentiment through that calligraphy some 300 years before.