Ryokan inns are a bastion of Japanese style and indulgence. Tatami-floored bedrooms, exquisite wooden details, delicate lattice sliding doors, and beautifully laid-out futons are all to be expected in this type of high quality, long-established accommodation. However, above and beyond the traditional decor and customary yukata kimonos, the focus is fully on the exquisite food and relaxing onsen. A night or two of this serene experience is high on many visitors’ wish lists.
At the other end of the bijou accommodation spectrum, Minshuku, the ryokan’s casual cousins, offer laid-back, bed-and-breakfast style stopovers which mix rural charm with modern, homely hotel facilities. They’re great for travelling families to get a feel for everyday life in Japan.
Ryokan are holdouts of the country’s older customs and represent the pinnacle of Japanese hospitality. Evening meals will probably be amongst the most memorable you’ve ever had, as an elegant parade of dishes completes your kaiseki experience. Enjoy local specialities in addition to nihonshoku fine-dining staples, served on traditional lacquerware with total attention to detail. You may wish to change into a traditional yukata for comfort while you dine.
The onsen is an integral part of a ryokan stay and we thoroughly recommend making use of it; like relaxing in a piping hot bath but 20 times better! There’s a simple etiquette to follow, but after completing a thorough soaking you will be on a bit of a high and feeling utterly relaxed. The more expensive rooms may have their own private onsen, or even an outdoor rotenburo.
Most visitors to Japan spend at least one night at a ryokan and we totally understand how important it is to get this right. We’ll take time to find the right ryokan for you, to make sure that these nights are special and live up to expectations. The most elaborate ryokan do come at a higher cost, so the more budget there is to play with, the more special the experience and beautiful the building, but they are absolutely worth it. The highest quality establishments are the pinnacle of omotenashi and one of the world’s premier hospitality experiences.
Minshuku are a diverse range of establishments, ubiquitous all over Japan, which are very different from ryokan. They are Japan’s answer to bed & breakfasts, or pension-style lodging houses, and we always choose those that we know can deliver. Often in converted, family-run farmhouses, they can be extremely characterful and down to earth - a totally different experience of stopover accommodation in Japan, with a very homely, welcoming feel.