Ryokans are a unique lodging option in Japan. They are Japanese inns that offer an opportunity to stay in a traditional style room with tatami mats, futon bedding, Japanese decor, and other accents. Ryokans range from moderately priced to very expensive depending on the location, time of year, and level of amenities. Here is an overview of what you can expect to experience while staying at a ryokan. The pictures below are from a June, 2017 stay at Seikoro Ryokan.
When staying at a ryokan, expect your room to be covered in tatami mats. You are required to take off your shoes when walking on tatami mats in any part of the ryokan. Beds are usually futons set on the floor. Sleeping on a futon is more comfortable than you would imagine. You may find a table with cushions or floor seats along with items to make tea. When booking a room, check to see if you will have your own bathroom or if it is shared in a hallway. There is not much storage space in rooms as most of it is used to store futons and other items.
Many ryokans have a onsen bath for guests to use during their stay. This bath pumps natural hot spring water into a bathing area separated by gender. It is a very relaxing experience and one of the main reasons to stay at a Ryokan. There are rules for using the baths such as showering beforehand. If you are unfamiliar with the rules, look for a posted sign or ask a employee.
Traditional Japanese Cuisine
Another attraction to ryokans is the opportunity to eat traditional japanese meals. Many ryokans serve a Japanese style breakfast and some also offer dinner. Japanese breakfasts often include fish, seasonal vegetables, and rice among other small dishes. If you are not a fan of Japanese cuisine, ask for a Western style breakfast instead. Most ryokans serve meals in your room. The meals are usually extra, but well worth the experience.
The location for Seikoro Ryokan in Kyoto, Japan