AROUND 600 people embraced Japanese culture with a packed summer festival in Clackmannanshire.

The Japanese Garden at Cowden hosted a unique two-day event over the weekend featuring the likes of flower arrangement, sumi painting and street food.

People flocked to the spot, which is a around a mile from Dollar Academy, to take part in a whole hosts of special attractions organised for the occasion.

Tom McCappin, project manager at the garden, thanked everyone who went along on the day, in particular people from the county who got involved.

"It was really successful," he said, "We have had lots of positive feedback, people already asking if we are going to do anything again in a similar vein next year."

Visitors to the garden were not put off by the rain and took part in a number of free activities along with some interesting workshops, many which were fully booked.

Professor Masao Fukuhara, who designed the garden, was on hand to deliver practical garden tours and there was also Japanese traditional songs by Kiyoka Hachiya.

The schedule included Japanese martial art display, Taiko (drum band) performance by Mugenkyo, kimono arrangement displays, along with an archery display on the Sunday.

Tom said: "The Japanese drumming was particularly positive and impressive. They did four sets on each day and the feedback that we have had about them has been really really positive – they went down a storm."

The garden was first established in 1908 by Ella Christie of Cowden Castle, before it was handed over to her great nephew Robert Stewart.

However, it was closed for more than 50 years after a spate of vandalism in 1963 – the tea houses and bridges were burned, with lanterns and shrines knocked into the water.

When it was taken on by Robert’s daughter, Sara Stewart, in 2008 she decided to bring it back to its former glory and a long-term restoration project began.

Over the weekend Sara shared the history of the garden with visitors – which included representatives from the Japanese Counsel in Edinburgh – when leading tours.

For details on visiting the garden, head to