You may not think of hotels as being some of Japan’s most popular sites, but they happen to have an impressive array of great ryokans. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn and comes with all of the amenities it has provided patrons for hundreds of years. They a great way to experience Japan and there are some that are better than the rest.
What is a Ryokan?
The first thing to do is learn what ryokan are and how they became so popular. They were originally built to house feudal lords and upper-class members of society, and some for centuries have done so. Now they have become open to the public and some still offer the lavish treatment that was afforded to the higher-ups in older times. A typical ryokan will have tatami rooms, sliding paper doors, and use traditional futons laid out on the floor for sleeping. Since these places vary from centuries-old to more recently constructed, their level of pricing will also vary. Some can be the most expensive and lavish hotels in the country, and others will be regular tourist spots. Most of these hotels are located in older cities and towns and are usually near an onsen. The more expensive ones can have you being treated by women wearing traditional kimono that greet you and bring tea while they wait on you. Your room could even have its own garden and be decorated in lavish styles, while an onsen room could have your own personal hot bath. It’s up to you, and your wallet, to decide which one will fit your vacation needs.
This ryokan was opened in 1872 and has been a popular spot for Japanese celebrities and high ranking officials. It has been registered as a cultural asset for the country and is centered in a lake. It has 30 rooms and they are all facing the adjacent river that feeds in the lake. There are no personal baths in the room, but there are onsen that you can bath in. There are even a few different kinds of baths you can choose from, like one that has large boulders. You can eat traditional Japanese meals from a menu that changes every month.
It is located in Hakone, which a popular getaway area for people who live in Tokyo. Even though the idea is to get away from the stress of the city there are still some amenities that you can use. Things like a heated indoor pool and a gym to go along with the outdoor baths and relaxing spa treatments. Every room has its own garden or some sort of access to the balconies. The meals they serve there are seasonal and exemplify the area as well as the time of year. You could even have your meals in the privacy of your room, or in a building that was made to serve the royal family at one time.
This old town has been transformed into a place where many shops have opened, and visitors can come to enjoy the beautiful hotel. It is made up of three old and historic warehouses and a main mansion. It has eight rooms that use western style bedding and has them sitting in view of the nearby canal. You have your meals privately, or in a room overlooking the canal.
This ryokan in near Lake Shinji and has been around for over 130 years. The main building has a garden that contains some 300-year-old pines as well. Its rooms are typical tatami styled, with some having western style bedding to go along with the tatami style. The rooms have great views of the adjacent lake. Some rooms have private baths, but there is a public bath that overlooks the lake as well. The meals are representative of the area as they contain fish caught in the lake, the Sea of Japan, and other locally grown foods. The restaurant is popular with the locals, especially it’s one-pot rice meal made with local fish.
This hotel is in the shopping district of Miyajima and it boasts a great view of the nearby Seto Inland Sea. The island even has a world heritage site, the Itsukushima Shrine. The hotel has several kinds of room styles to choose from such as traditional tatami rooms to more western-styled versions. It has lots of delicious foods as well as an open-air bath on the roof of the main building.
These aren’t all of the ryokan in Japan, and you may find some that are more spectacular than ones that have been mentioned. Make sure to do your research and find the one that works best for you. With Japan gaining popularity as a vacation spot it will become more and more difficult to find open rooms in these places, so make sure to make reservations early.