Staying at a Japanese ryokan is an extraordinary cultural experience you will never forget. Anyone going to Japan should stay at least one night at one of these traditional Japanese inns.
Ryokan can be found everywhere in Japan, from hot spring towns to populated cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto. They are relaxing, comfortable, and offer a truly authentic Japanese experience.
How to Enjoy Your Stay at a Japanese Ryokan
A ryokan is the Japanese version of a bed and breakfast. The price includes dinner and breakfast, and the rates are charged per person and not per room.
There are a variety of ryokan in Japan. They can range from small, family-run buildings with just a few rooms to very large luxurious hotels. Depending on the type of ryokan, the prices range from 10,000-25,000 yen per person per night.
Arriving at the Ryokan
When you arrive at a ryokan, you must take off your shoes in the foyer, or genkan, and put on a pair of slippers. You can leave your shoes at the entrance or put them in a locker, if provided.
An attendant will show you to your room and serve you tea and Japanese sweets. At the entrance of your room, you take off your slippers and leave them by the door.
The guest rooms are very simply decorated. The flooring is made of traditional tatami mats, which is comfortable for sitting and sleeping. The furniture includes a low table and cushions on the floor. The futon beds are rolled out at night. Rooms may or may not include a private bathroom.
In your room, you will find a cotton robe called a yukata. You are expected to change into the yukata and wear it throughout your stay. You don’t need to wear fancy clothing at a ryokan, even if dinner is outside the room.
If it is cold, you will also be provided a jacket to wear over the yukata.
The bathing area is shared with the other guests. There are separate bathing areas for men and women. Many luxury ryokan have natural hot springs or onsen.
In the changing area, you must disrobe completely. You can cover yourself with the provided hand towel, but do not put the towel into the bath water. Wash your body completely before getting into the bath water.
Dinner is included with your stay and can be quite an experience. The attendants may serve dinner in your room or dinner may be served in a dining room. Dinner includes multiple courses and features local cuisine and seasonal specialties. The food is beautifully presented and worthy of pictures.
After dinner, the attendants clear the dishes and prepare the bedding. Futon beds are placed on the floor for sleeping. The futon beds are quite comfortable on the tatami flooring, and down comforters keep you very warm.
In the morning, an attendant puts away the bedding and sets up the room for breakfast. Breakfast usually consists of rice, miso soup, and fish. Some Japanese ryokan accommodating foreign tourists will also provide eggs and toast.
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Becki and Shawn
Japan Travel Specialists
Hi, we’re Becki and Shawn! We love Japan and are truly passionate about Japan and Japan travel.
We’ve lived, worked, and traveled in Japan for 20+ years, so we know where to go, what to see, and how to get there. Join us in Japan for an adventure of a lifetime!