We have hand-picked our hotels considering their location, value and boutique-style. If you have a special request of a certain hotel that is not listed on the website, please let us know and we will try to make it happen.
What is a Ryokan?
Japanese inns, known as “Ryokan”, are the most traditional form of accommodation in Japan and have existed since the eighth century. So that our clients have the ultimate Ryokan experience, we have personally selected the best Ryokan in Hakone and Takayama. We encourage you to stay a night, or several, and experience traditional Japanese accommodation, its warm hospitality, delicious handmade traditional food, and the ultimate hot spring relaxation experience.
Ryokans are known for their traditional architecture and excellent “omotenashi” or Japanese hospitality. Ryokans are typically located in rural areas where visitors have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience and immerse themselves in authentic Japanese traditions.
Known for their simplicity, a Ryokan room is minimally decorated and features a spacious entrance, tatami floors, sliding doors, a tea making area, and a low table and chair. Usually, at night, the low table and chairs that can be found in the room will be substituted by the hotel staff by futons and duvets laid on the tatami mats for sleeping. If the idea of a tatami mat doesn’t appeal, some modern ryokan now have western-style beds too.
Ryokans also have communal baths, separated by gender, where guests can enjoy a therapeutic and relaxing bath with water from nearby hot springs (known as “onsens”). For this reason, most rooms do not have their own private baths or showers as traditionally bathing would be taken in the communal bathing area.
Upon entering a Ryokan, you will be asked to take off your regular shoes and slip on a pair of ryokan sandals. Yukatas – a traditional Japanese dressing gown – are also provided for guests to wear within the ryokan installations to help them feel comfortable and “at home”.
Dinner and breakfast are normally served in your room at a set time. Ryokan are renowned for offering a truly authentic culinary experience of traditional Japanese homemade food, cooked with seasonal and locally grown fresh ingredients.
To cater to the needs of western travellers, high-end ryokan, which are comparable to a wellness retreats, offer a wonderful traditional Japanese ambiance in the middle of stunning nature as well as the comforts of western hotels. Some even offer rooms with a private hot spring bath indoors or on the terrace overlooking the surrounding nature.
The onsen experience is certainly one of the highlights while in Japan. The traditional Japanese bath has their own rituals that Japanese strictly follow and everyone (including western people) is expected to do so.
The baths are gender segregated, what means that you will be soaking with same sex people only.
The majority of the onsen do not allow people with tattoos to use the public onsen and same rules are applied to western people. In Japan there is a stigma towards tattoos and the reason behind it lies in the strong connection that still nowadays Japanese people make between mafia/ gangsters and tattoos.
However the good news is, in spite of not being able to use common baths if you have a tattoo, you can still have a room with your private onsen to soak in or rent one for private use at your ryokan. This is a good solution for couples or family use as well.
Please read below a short resume of the most important things to consider when using an onsen:
- Undress yourself in the dressing area before entering the bath space. Passing this area, everyone is expected to be naked with no exceptions.
- Scrub yourself carefully, without splashing, in the bath area before soaking in the onsen. Use the plastic chair designed for each bath spot.(soaps are provided).
- While soaking in the onsen do not speak loudly or stare at people.
- Both your hair and towel must not touch the onsen water.
- No cell phones or cameras are allowed.
- You can rinse yourself after the onsen or not, the choice is yours.
- Before you leave the bath space and before entering the dressing area wipe yourself dry carefully.