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?
A Ryokan -Japanese inn- is the authentic traditional Japanese accommodation that has existed in Japan since the 8th century. They all have a typical traditional architecture and design and they are characterised for their excellent “omotenashi” or Japanese hospitality, meaning that guests have a more personal treat with the ryokan staff in opposition to a regular hotel.
Generally, ryokans have a big entrance (where normally you will have to change your regular shoes for the ryokan sandals), tatami floors, sliding doors, tea making space and communal baths segregated by gender where guests enjoy their therapeutic and relaxing bath with hot spring (onsen) water from the nearby area.
Rooms are usually very simple revealing the charm of a culture of simplicity and minimalism that we can see reflected in design and decorations, traditionally made using natural elements and materials.
Many ryokan do not have private bath or shower in the room. In order to understand the reason behind this, we need to consider the traditional Japanese ritual of showering right before using the hot spring bath.
Usually, at night, the low table and chairs that can be found in the Japanese rooms will be substituted by the hotel staff by futons and duvets laid on the tatami mats for sleeping.
Some modern ryokan have western style beds, an adaptation made for western people who want to experience this unique accommodation without compromising western comfort.
Yukatas -housecoat- are provided for guests to wear within the ryokan installations to help them feel comfortable and “at home”.
Dinner and breakfast are usually served in the room except in some places where the kind of food served is specially aromatic. Normally dinner is served early at the time set for dinner -with no exceptions- and meals are well known to be home made and delicious; a truly authentic culinary experience of traditional Japanese home made food cooked with seasonal and locally grown fresh ingredients.
Nowadays ryokans can still be found in rural areas offering the chance of embarking western visitors into this unique “little adventure” of experience by themselves the authentic Japanese traditions.
A great variety of wide range ryokan can be chosen. Usually high-end ryokan offer luxurious western comfort and are more like a “wellness retreat” in the middle of stunning nature in a lovely Japanese traditional ambiance with exceptionally good service. Some of these rooms have the particularity of having their own private hot spring bath in your own room or terrace with beautiful views of the nature around. A truly treat to yourself.
At Fleewinter, we have handpicked some of the best ryokan -from the very simple to luxurious ones- to offer our clients the exceptional experience of staying at a traditional Japanese accommodation and enjoy the wonderful hospitality, delicious handmade traditional food and the ultimate relaxation experience of soaking in natural hot spring baths within a lovely Japanese genuine atmosphere.
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 still a big stigma towards tattoos and the reason behind it lies in the strong connection that still nowadays Japanese people make between 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.