Japan has evolved up to now with many natural disasters, as I mentioned in the last blog. It seems that I am impudent to talk about “all-natural disasters were not bad." Again I am sincerely grateful for the people who suffered and struggled with natural disasters, did not give up, and spread their kindness and strength instead. There are beautiful forests in Japan, and the rain makes the forests work like a filter, clear water produces tasty rice and sake. The benefit of volcanic eruptions creates that hot springs and then these mineral-rich hot springs heal people. Everything is connected to enrich our culture. So where can you try all of them at the one-stop? It will be probably in Japanese ryokan!!
According to the survey, "Research Study on Ryokan Brands", conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism in 2014. The reasons for choosing a ryokan as a place to stay included "I wanted to enjoy hot springs" and "I wanted to eat Japanese cuisine.” In particular, the majority of first-time visitors were "interested in Japanese-style rooms and Japanese-style architecture.” Although major booking sites, some ryokan now have multilingual websites, so reservations seem to be relatively easy, some of you might have confused a little difference between hotel and ryokan.
The ryokan experience is unlike any other hotel experience. You get to truly experience of traditional Japan and experience more of the culture through a ryokan stay including futon beds, public baths, and the best Japanese dinner. The ryokan has long been a part of the Japanese experience. There is something luxurious and authentic about staying in these Japanese-style inns. The ryokan experience is a lot different than your run-of-the-mill hotel experience. Ryokans tend to be at a higher cost, and more secluded in location, surrounded by nature, although it is not always the case. They are also a lot smaller than hotels with only a select number of guestrooms. This ensures that the best Japanese style of hospitality can be bestowed upon guests.
What is exactly a ryokan though?
A ryokan is a Japanese-style inn that has the elements of a traditional-style Japanese house. Usually, ryokans will have tatami floor mats and come
with futon bedding instead of the Western-style bed. Some ryokans also have rooms with Western-style beds if that's something you prefer, so we would definitely recommend double-checking beforehand. The tatami mats are made of straw and give off a nice straw scent.
The first thing that you might notice when arriving at a ryokan is that you take off
your shoes before entering the facility. Do not fret though! You will be provided with slippers that you wear instead. This is what most of the ryokan guidebook will mention, but ryokan is the place for experiencing the finest hospitality in Japan. Hiiragiya is one of the oldest and best-known ryokans in Kyoto, built in 1818 and run by the same family ever since and also is my favorite ryokan, to be honest, the only one that I had stayed in Kyoto. the stone paved entrance to the Hiragiya, accented by the flower arrangement and a feeling of "welcomed" Hiiragiya's sixth-generation Okami, house mother explained "the essence of the service one finds today at traditional ryokan stems from that sense of welcoming a guest into the home and treating them as one of the family, giving them the feeling of "returning home."
(This is Hiiragiya's hospitality motto in Japanese)
Once inside the facility, you may find that everyone seems to be wearing a Japanese-style robe. These garments are called yukata and many people roam the ryokan in these garments. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear it and is a comfortable piece to lounge in. You’ll usually be provided with one in your room that you can use for the duration of your stay.
Yukata Men's Cotton Pine Bamboo and Dragon
How we spend a pleasant time, freed from travel fatigue and everyday stress.
The more recent ryokans and the luxury ones now come with private bathrooms. At some ryokans, you can request a private open-air bath within your room. These make you feel like you’re bathing in your own personal onsen, even if it’s just a bath, and it feels luxurious! For those who don’t mind being immersed in the full experience, most ryokans have a shared bath area that either comes with hot spring water or regular tap bath water. The showering area is found nearby, and guests are expected to fully shower before entering the bath.
Have you ever heard of Cypress bath?
There are many different kinds of cypress trees, however, the one for the most suitable cypress for bathtubs would be found in Japan and some parts of Taiwan only. Phytoncide is various bactericidal substance to protect itself from insects. Surprisingly phytoncide has huge benefits for us.
- Lower blood pressure
- Balance or adjust the disordered autonomic nerves
- Strengthen the immune system
- Become quiescent for brain activity
After a soothing hot bath and changing your clothes to Yukata, dinner is served in your room. One of the most favored parts about staying in a ryokan is that they tend to come with a kaiseki dinner. A kaiseki dinner is a luxury Japanese course dinner that you can enjoy in your room oftentimes, although some places have a designated separate room where you will be served dinner. The meal will be a feast for the eye as the palate, artistically presented with full attention to contrasting colors, textures, and shapes, often on traditional ceramic dishes and lacquerware. These meals tend to be balanced, healthy, and filled with some luxury and seasonal ingredients, like the freshest seafood and melt-in-your-mouth cuts of meat.
You have never slept on the mat?
After dinner, the maid will whisk away all dishes, remove the table and cushions, and lay out the futon directly on the straw mat called tatami. Futon consists of thick comfortable mattresses covered with big, soft materials like quilts. Some ryokans also have rooms with Western-style beds if that's something you prefer, so we would definitely recommend double-checking beforehand. The tatami mats are made of straw and give off a nice straw scent.