When visiting Japan, there are many types of accommodations both western-style and Japanese-style that vary widely in terms of style and budget. If you want to experience Japanese culture, you should stay at Ryokan!
Ryokan is a traditional Japanese style inn. You will find ryokan throughout Japan, especially around onsen (hot spring) resorts in the mountains and by the coast.
Ryokan usually offers dinner and breakfast and specialty meals called kaiseki ryori (traditional Japanese multi-course haute cuisine) that features local and seasonal specialties. The opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle and ‘omotenashi’ is typically know as hospitality at its finest.
When you arrive at the ryokan the staff will welcome you with friendly smiles and take you to your room, but before entering you must take off your shoes and change to the slippers provided at the entrance. Once at the door of your room, you must take off your slippers to enter to tatami (straw mat) floor.
Green tea and assortment of little sweets are prepared at the table. You will be asked what time you would like to have dinner served, which will be delivered to your room so you can enjoy a private dinner. After dinner, you may choose to relax and unwind with a walk to explore the natural serenity found around ryokan, or immerse yourself in an onsen. You may even decide to hit the local bars, or even just a coffee but while you are out from your room the ryokan’s staff are skillfully clearing away your table and rolling out your futon (Japanese style mattress and doona) in preparation for a good night sleep.
There are in fact more than 43,000 ryokans throughout Japan. Ryokan originally date back to the Nara period (710 – 794) and thrived during Edo period (1603 – 1868).
Nowadays, there are many different kinds of ryokan varying significantly in size, cost and styles.
Minshuku is family operated, Japanese style bed and breakfast accommodation. They are considered a budget version of ryokan, yet far more rewarding from a culture experience as you sit down for dinner with fellow travellers for Japanese style home cooking.
Kominka is another accommodation usually found in the countryside of Japan and typically found around kyoto. Kominka is a Japanese term for “traditional Japanese residential house” and are hundreds of years old (some are known to be more than 300 years old) and because of traditional Japanese architecture engineering they are kept in remarkable condition and have been renovated to create a nostalgic atmosphere of old Japanese for visiting people to the countryside.