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Planning an exciting trip to Japan? We can’t wait for you to explore this incredible country! Aside from climbing the towering skyscrapers of Tokyo or visiting the glorious temples of Kyoto, why not do something completely unique, something we guarantee you can’t get anywhere else but in Japan?

If you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, then we suggest staying in a ryokan! These traditional hotels will give you an incredible cultural experience that you simply won’t be able to experience anywhere else. Getting curious? Then read on! We’ll tell you everything you need to know about ryokans.

History of Ryokans


Before anything else, let’s start with a bit of a history lesson. Ryokans are traditional inns that have existed in Japan since all the way back in the 8th Century AD! In fact, ryokans make up some of the oldest hotels in history, such as the Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan which was built back in 705 AD.

These inns provided comfort, a home away from home for Japanese travelers along the country’s trade routes. It was a place to stop, take a breath, and rejuvenate oneself until one could feel ready to travel again. Ryokans have been providing incredible hospitality and comfort for hundreds of years!

Nowadays, Japan still has a lot of ryokans all over the country. They have become a staple in the country’s hospitality industry, giving them a unique edge when it comes to providing comfort for both local and foreign tourists. After all, who wouldn’t want to be taken care of in a homey yet luxurious ryokan?

What’s a Ryokan?


Now, what is a ryokan, in the first place? These traditional Japanese inns are known for having tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, as well as other public areas where visitors are encouraged to wear nemaki (a more casual type of kimono that is usually worn in inns) and converse with the owner. Ryokans are especially common in areas with plenty of hot springs.

You may think ryokans are just like your regular old hotels, but in reality, they’re so much more than that! Ryokans strictly follow the traditional Japanese way of life. Here you will be able to fully immerse yourself in Japanese day-to-day life due to the authentically designed rooms and amenities, local cuisines, and more. Ryokans provide not just a place to stay but a truly memorable experience that you will carry with you long after you’ve gone home from your travels.

Main Features In A Ryokan


As soon as you step into a ryokan, you will usually be greeted with a large entrance hall with couches and chairs where you can sit and talk with the other guests. Some ryokans that have a more modern approach would also have TVs in their entrance halls. Each ryokan guest room follows traditional Japanese design, with cool tatami floors, sliding doors, futon beds, and more. Many ryokan guest rooms also have a small balcony or porch.


Another common feature of ryokans is common bathing areas called ofuro. These are usually segregated by gender, and guests are encouraged to relax and replenish themselves in the ofuro. If bathing with other people (especially strangers) is a bit strange to you, then consider this an opportunity to try something new!

It’s actually a very relaxing and fuss-free experience. Ryokans also have onsen (hot springs) where you can relax. Again, these rooms are separated by gender, so you don’t have anything to worry about!

You May Also Like: Ryokan Etiquette – All The Rules & Manners

What Food Do You Eat In A Ryokan?


Another good thing about ryokans is that meals usually come with the accommodation! Many ryokans pride themselves on serving food that is not only authentic but of high quality as well. Here you will be able to try kaiseki cuisine, which is a multiple-course meal where you get to try seasonal and regional specialties! In line with providing a holistic cultural experience, most ryokans showcase their national and regional cuisines through their dishes.


Expect to try delectable local specialties such as basahi (horse meat), or food cooked in a traditional irori hearth. A few ryokans, especially those catering to more foreign guests, also offer Western cuisine. However, we highly recommend indulging yourself in local food to complete the whole authentic experience! Who knows? You might even find your next favorite meal!

Why You Should Book A Ryokan In Japan?


Not yet convinced? Well, let us tell you even more reasons to stay at a ryokan in Japan! When traveling, your accommodations matter more than you think. After all, this is where you rest after each tiring day of sightseeing. This is also where you get to start each day and make sure you are prepared for the activities ahead. That being said, what better way to start and end your day than in a ryokan? Ryokans pride themselves on their incredible service. They will make sure you will feel taken care of every step of the way. There’s a reason ryokans have lasted so long: their high-quality service!


Most importantly, staying at a ryokan will give you a one-of-a-kind experience that you simply will not be able to get anywhere else. If you’re going to travel all the way to Japan, then we suggest going for the full experience and staying at this warm and memorable place. Not only will you get to experience Japanese culture at its more authentic, but you’ll also be able to enjoy top-notch world-class hospitality!

Where To Find Ryokans In Japan?


As we have mentioned, ryokans are quite popular in areas that are rich in hot springs. That being said, you won’t be able to find too many ryokans in big urban cities like Tokyo. Another reason for this is that ryokans tend to be more expensive than the regular modern hotel or hostel. However, you can still find some ryokans with competitive rates in big cities, hidden in the suburbs. Many ryokans can be found near Mt. Fuji in the Tokyo suburbs.


Traditional ryokans are much more common in beautiful areas that are a bit far from the city. Places like Karuizawa and Hokkaido have plenty of ryokans for you to choose from. If you’re planning to stay at a ryokan, then take it as an opportunity to explore places outside of Tokyo as well. The tranquil beauty of these areas will definitely add to the whole experience. Not to mention, you’ll get to enjoy gorgeous scenery while relaxing in natural hot springs!

How Much Ryokans Cost In Japan?


The average cost of one night at a ryokan is around ¥15,000-¥25,000 ($106-$177) per night. But of course, it depends a lot on each Ryokan, this is just an average. You can get an idea of the prices of a luxury ryokan in Japan here.

As we have mentioned, staying at a ryokan may be a bit more expensive than a regular hostel. But we think the price won’t compare with the once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll get to have at a ryokan! Aside from a luxury stay that will make you feel pampered and cared for, most ryokans will also serve breakfast and elaborate dinners to their guests. That way, we really think the price of a ryokan stay is worth it.

For more details, make sure to read our full guide on how much is a ryokan in Japan?

Rules In A Ryokan

Because ryokans promote the traditional Japanese culture and customs, it can be a bit intimidating especially if you’re an outsider. That’s why we’ve compiled just a few do’s and don’ts for you to follow during your first ryokan visit!

1. Be prompt.


Japanese people really value being on time. They are notoriously against latecomers, and it is seen as rude if you are late to an agreed-upon meeting time. In ryokans especially, the staff will ask you to be prompt during dinner time. This is only because the staff, including the chef and the waitresses, want you to experience the elaborate kaiseki-style dinner at its best.

Coming too late may result in the food not being at its best form, which would be a source of embarrassment for the hardworking staff. Do them (and yourself!) a favor and come in time. If you really can’t avoid being late, then you must contact the ryokan staff in advance.

2. Take off your footwear.


This might be obvious for other cultures that don’t wear shoes indoors, but some Westerners may be clueless about this. In Japanese ryokans and even houses, everyone must take off their shoes at the door and wear different indoor footwear for the inside. If you feel confused about when and where to take off your shoes, you can always ask any of the helpful staff in the ryokan!

3. Be gentle with the interior.


Because ryokans guest rooms are built using traditional Japanese materials, you will notice that a lot of the interior is made up of a special kind of paper, including the shoji (screens), fusuma (sliding doors), wallpapers, lighting shades, and more. Because of the material, these objects tend to tear easily, so you must be very gentle and careful when using them. Remember to respect the ryokan you are staying in!

For the rules related to onsen, make sure you read our complete guide about Onsen Etiquette.

We hope you found our post about ryokans helpful! Are you excited to stay at a Japanese ryokan? Tell us in the comments!

Instead of staying at a regular hotel, hostel, or guesthouse, why not treat yourself a little and stay at a ryokan? Even if you just stay for one night, we guarantee that ryokans will provide an awesome experience that will just make your trip even more special and memorable. The best part about traveling to new places is getting to experience completely new cultures that will open up our worldview. In Japan, we can’t think of a better way to do so than to stay at a ryokan.


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