Ryokan: A Traditional Japanese Experience
A ryokan, or a traditional Japanese inn, has become a must-do experience for many travelers in Japan.
While most hotels in Japan are actually quite affordable, a ryokan has that infamous Japanese price tag associated with it. Typically costing 6,000 to 100,000 yen ($60-1000), is a ryokan worth the high costs?
Most ryokan are found in more scenic areas of Japan and are associated with Japanese vacations. Many of them are located up in the mountains or near hot springs.
Experiencing a traditional Japanese bath, or ofuro, is a large part of the ryokan experience, and a very relaxing experience at that. While most ryokans will offer an onsen of sort, most people choose those that have natural hot springs over artificially created ones.
As you’re greeted at the ryokan, most guests will be given a yukata to change into for the duration of their stay before being shown their rooms. Many ryokan are very small with less than five rooms, although now, more resort style ryokan with hundreds of rooms have been popping up all over Japan—especially in popular resort areas such as Hakone or Gunma.
The yukata are light versions of kimono and are typically used when walking about the ryokan and to and from the baths. Yukata also make comfortable sleeping clothes for when you’re in your room.
Most ryokan rooms are very basic with tatami flooring, sliding doors, and simple furniture, such as a low table with a few cushions for sitting. When you walk inside you may be wondering where the bed is, but fear not! You’ll find it folded up in your closet in the form of a futon.
During the day futons are put away to save on space, and at night the ryokan keeper will come around to help you lay out your bed.
One of the best parts of staying in a ryokan is that they typically include a traditional Japanese dinner and breakfast in the room price. This is such a wonderful way to interact with the locals and try some delicious Japanese cuisine you might not experience elsewhere.
So are Japanese ryokan’s worth the extra price?
If you’re looking for an authentic Japanese experience, then yes! While it might not be feasible to stay in a ryokan every night of your trip for budget reasons, if you can at least experience it for one night you won’t regret it!
[post by Beth]
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