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Lodging accommodations

A look at the Japanese lifestyle and customs

In Japan, there are many customs at lodging facilities that can be fairly surprising if you do not know about them in advance, from the way of getting into the bath to the way bedding is used. Let's take a look at some of these customs so you will not run into any problems.


Tipping is not required in Japan for service in places like hotels, taxis, restaurants, and beauty salons. Fees for service are already included in the bill. It is ok to assume that tipping is not necessary at all when in Japan.


At a "ryokan" style inn, it is general custom to take off your shoes at the inner entrance of the building (the "genkan") or at the entrance to your room and wear slippers while in the facilities. Also, bare feet or socks are the norm when inside your room. In hotels, shoes are worn outside your room. If your room is not a Japanese style room, it is ok to wear shoes or slippers inside.

"Yukata" robes

"Yukata" robes are sleepwear, but you can wear them outside of your room as long as you stay in the ryokan inn interior. The inside of the ryokan is a place for guests to relax, so you are invited to make yourself comfortable in a yukata robe and slippers. In general, it is not accepted to go outside of the ryokan in a yukata robe, but if the ryokan is located in a hot spring resort area ("onsengai"), sometimes it is ok to walk around outside in a yukata robe. Make sure to check with the ryokan staff.

"Futon" bedding

A futon is a traditional type of Japanese bedding. It is laid out directly on top of the straw tatami mat. When you first enter your room at a ryokan inn, you might be shocked to see that there is no bed in sight, but there is no need to worry. The futon is taken out and unfolded onto the tatami mats before sleeping and then folded up and put away after you wake up in the morning. This gives you more space in your room so you can get more use from it. In a ryokan, the staff usually sets up your futon for you while you are eating dinner or taking a bath.


Recently more and more ryokan inns are putting private bathing areas in the guest rooms, but if you stay at a hot spring, we recommend trying the large group bathing area. In order to make sure that everyone can enjoy the group bathing areas where a large number of people bathe at once, observe the following guidelines.

・Rinse your body before getting into the bath. Washing away sweat and dust before getting in keeps the water clean.

・Don't take items like your towel into the bathtub. Wearing a swimsuit in the bath is also against bathing etiquette unless specifically allowed by the management.

・After getting out of the bath, dry off lightly with your towel before entering the dressing area.

*In Japan, some people may have preconceptions about those with tattoos. As such, people with tattoos may be refused entry at public baths or requested to cover up their tattoos.
*At hot-spring hotels (Onsen Ryokan), guests with tattoos can still enjoy hot-springs by using in-room baths or by booking one of the private baths.

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