Found throughout Japan, especially in hot spring resorts, an authentic Ryokan traditional (Japanese Inn), is more than just a place to sleep. Priding themselves on providing a tranquil atmosphere, guests are invited to take off their shoes and enjoy simple, friendly traditional Japanese hospitality and lifestyle.
What you can expect at a Ryokan
In a typical Ryokan guest room, you will first enter the ‘agari-kamachi’, a small area for guests to take off their shoes, before opening the ‘shoji’ sliding paper doors, which lead into the main room of the Ryokan. The floors are made up of ‘tatami’, a type of reed floor matting that is easily scratched due to its delicate composition, so that all footwear, even slippers should be removed before walking on tatami. In your room, you will find a yukata (casual kimono) to wear, usually along with a pair of slippers.
Low wooden tables offer a traditional dining experience sitting on a ‘zabuton’ cushion on the floor.
Your sleeping arrangements will be on a Japanese Futon. These are traditional Japanese mattresses that are laid directly on the tatami flooring.
Ryokans do not have central heating, and in the winter months the room will be heated by a portable heater (kerosene, gas, or electric), in keeping with traditional ways of heating. Similarly, in summer your room may have an air conditioning unit, but it is not guaranteed.
All meals, including breakfast, will be served as a traditional Japanese meal, using fresh local ingredients. Due to the highest importance of using fresh ingredients in Japanese cuisine, meals are usually a set-menu, without choice. The chef knowing how best to prepare and serve the ingredients he, or she has that day.
Both breakfast and dinner with be served as a kaiseki – a set of dishes served on an individual tray, that aims to retain the natural flavour of the ingredients.
Ryokans are generally unable to make provisions for special dietary requirements, including vegetarian.
Experience a Ryokan for yourself
A Ryokan stay is available on our Very Best of Japan tour as an optional extra, with prices from £95 per person, inclusive of dinner.