10 Ryokans Where You Can Experience Japan's “Omotenashi” Customer Service
If you wish to experience and understand Japanese culture, ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn), is the accommodation to choose. Unlike Western-style hotels, you can experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle at a ryokan: taking off your shoes, having healthy Japanese cuisine on a tatami floor, sleeping on a futon bed, etc. Such exotic elements at a ryokan attract Western travelers these days and staying at a ryokan is getting more popular.
Here are 10 excellent ryokan in Japan!
1. Gora Kadan, in Hakone
Gora Onsen (hot spring) used to be a vacation destination for politicians and famous poets, etc. The quality of its hot spring is very nutrient-rich; you can expect various beneficial effects on your body. The old exotic buildings were built using the highest quality wood, displaying stunning Japanese-style architecture along with perfect Japanese gardens. If you want to experience one of the most luxurious ryokans in Japan, this ryokan is one of your options. (As you can imagine, it is quite pricey.)
Address: 1300 Gora, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Website (in English): http://www.gorakadan.com/
2. Motonago, in Kyoto
The building architecture of this classic ryokan looks like a “Machiya”, a traditional wooden townhouse for merchants commonly found in Kyoto. You can enjoy traditional Kyoto cuisine using fresh seasonal ingredients and also its convenient location where you can easily access famous tourist spots such as the Gion District and Kodaiji Temple.
Address: 511 Washio-cho, Kodaiji, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Website (in English): http://www.motonago.com/
3. Senshinkan Matsuya
A friendly female ryokan owner called “Okami-san” will welcome you with great Japanese hospitality. The ryokan is located in Nagano’s famous Shibu Onsen Resort, near the popular tourist spot Jigokudani Yaen Koen (Monkey Park). Watching cute monkeys taking hot spring baths is a must-see!
Address: 2222 Hirao, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakaigun, Nagano
Website (in English): http://eihachi.com/
4. Seifuso, in Yudanaka Onsen, Nagano Prefecture
Seifuso is very close to Yudanaka Station (Nagano Dentetsu), which is convenient for travels to nearby sightseeing spots such as Obuse-machi and Suzaka City. Enjoy their excellent service and refreshing hot springs spa, you can relax in a warm, homey atmosphere.
Address: 3268 Hirao, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Website (in English): http://www.yudanaka-seifuso.com/
5. Shimizu Ryokan, in Yufuin, Oita Prefecture
Shimizu Ryokan is one of the most popular ryokans in Yufuin, a famous hot spring resort in Oita Prefecture, Kyushu. The most appealing feature of this ryokan is its “cavern hot spring”. The 40-year-old cave was amazingly built inside the ryokan building; you will see the extraordinary hot spring once you open the door.
Address: 263 Yunohira, Yufuin-cho, Yufu-shi, Oita Prefecture
Website (in Japanese): http://www.r-shimizu.jp/
6. Yama no Chaya, in Hakone
You will find this ryokan surrounded by beautiful nature after crossing a suspension bridge, making you feel like the ryokan is your private vacation house. The nostalgic wooden architecture and beautiful nature around the ryokan create beautiful scenery. Their original kaiseki-ryori (traditional Japanese multi-course cuisine) is a must-try.
Address: 171 Tounosawa, Hakonemachi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa
Website (in English): http://www.yamanochaya.com/
7. Family Inn, Saiko
This family-run inn offers warm hospitality with a homey atmosphere. This small ryokan is highly rated by international tourists because of its convenient location, where you can easily access popular tourist destinations, Shinjuku and Shibuya. Also, you can enjoy the traditional Japanese lifestyle experience, such as sleeping on a futon bed in a tatami mat room.
Address: 2-34-16 Nagasaki, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Website (in English): http://www.familyinn-saiko.com/
8. Issa no Komichi, Biyu-no-Yado
Biyu-no-Yado is one of the popular ryokans in Nagano’s famous hot spring resort Yudanaka Onsen. The seasonal views from guest rooms are outstanding since the ryokan is located on a hill. Enjoy their warm hospitality, fantastic Japanese cuisine, and also, a refreshing indoor, outdoor, or private hot spring bath.
Address: 2951-1 Hirao, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano
Website (in Japanese): http://www.yudanakaview.co.jp/
9. Ryokan Sawanoya
A lot of international tourists repeatedly stay at this small family-run ryokan, which offers warm family-like hospitality. For tourists who want to experience exotic Japanese lifestyle, all guest rooms feature tatami mats and futon beds. No shower room in your guest room? Don’t worry, you can individually use their spacious shared bath facility. Enjoy the cozy stay!
Address: 2-3-11, Yanaka, Taito-Ku, Tokyo
Website (in English): http://www.sawanoya.com/
10. Kyoto Cuisine & Ryokan Shiraume, Gion District, Kyoto
Shiraume is located in the world’s famous Gion District. The scenic ryokan displays the seasonal beauty of Japan. You can enjoy the seasonal beauty in their kaiseki-ryori as well, as the sophisticated presentation is extraordinary.
Address: Tree streets north from Shijo, east of Nawate; by Shirakawa Stream Goin Shinbashi Shirakawa Hotori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Website (in English): http://www.shiraume-kyoto.jp/
An exotic lifestyle experience and a cozy stay with great hospitality. You can enjoy both at the same time. Discover your favorite ryokan in Japan!