Stay In A Ryokan – Experience Traditional Japan!
Futuristic cities, age-old temples, mist-covered hills, kimono-clad geisha, and suit-clad businessmen – these are a few things that come to my mind when I think of Japan. A ryokan has all of these, beautifully blended to give you a totally unique experience.
Some people have misconceptions about Japan. Many feel that it is more expensive than other travel destinations in the world, but it is comparatively less expensive to travel in Japan than in Western Europe or North America.
The accommodation system in Japan also makes it unique and easy for travelers. If you wish to make your trip to Japan more enjoyable and explore the culture in a more authentic way, I’d suggest that you stay in a Japanese Ryokan.
What’s a Ryokan?
If you are wondering what a ryokan is, it is a traditional Japanese-style inn that focuses on maintaining the authentic atmosphere more than providing the latest amenities and services.
A ryokan is the most suitable accommodation for people who wish to explore the Japanese culture and savor the comforts of traditional hospitality and service in Japan. There are a variety of ryokans to choose from based on your requirement and budget.
For many centuries, the ryokans have been a special part of Japanese culture. You can still see some of the ancient ryokans located on the Tokaido Highway, which connected the capital city of Edo, now known as Tokyo, with the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.
The ryokans were actually built to welcome the tired travelers and provide them a place to rest before they went on with their journey. Some of the ryokans were very simple and offered just rooms to rest, whereas some were more sophisticated for the government officials.
A typical ryokan guest room has the following features:
- Agari-kamachi (area for keeping shoes)
- Shoji (paper doors that slide)
- Tatami (low wooden tables)
- Zabuton (cushions)
- Tokonoma (ornamental alcove)
- Oshiire (futon sleeping quilts)
- Engawa (kind of living area)
A traditional Experience
At first It can be a little intimidating to stay in a ryokan, but it’s not very difficult to arrange and the experience can give you an insight into Japanese tradition and way of living not available in any other way.
The best part is you can easily make reservations for the a ryokan via Internet and get inexpensive and pleasant accommodation. Staying in a traditional ryokan is an experience in itself, and is much different than staying in a usual hotel. First off, you save a lot of money that you can spend elsewhere, and if you stay in a ryokan situated in the hot springs area, you can enjoy bathing in the hot springs.
At a ryokan, you are charged per person and not per room. The average price for one night at this traditional accommodation is about 15,000 yen, plus taxes. If you stay in one that has a hot spring bath facility, you pay an additional 150 yen per person per night. The prices range from 7,000 yen to 110,000 per person, including tax. Some of the factors that influence pricing are the size of the room, location, facilities, season, and meals.
There are many advantages to staying in a ryokan compared with staying in a usual hotel.
- At a ryokan, you sleep on the sleeping mats on the floor, which is quite comfortable for most people.
- You get slippers to use in your room, so it remains clean and you actually feel like you are in your home instead of a guest room.
- They also provide a yukata, which is a type of Japanese robe.
- You may also try the traditional Japanese breakfast ($7-10), which is much different from the Western breakfast.
- Staying in a ryokan can help you save more money if you are traveling in a group.
- You can consider staying in areas like Hakone, located close to Tokyo and next to the Mount Fuji, to enjoy taking a bath in the hot springs.
- The ryokans don’t serve western style breakfast so it may not be a great option for those who are not so adventurous.
- Though prices are reasonable, the room facilities are very limited.