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The center of hospitality: Okami

A closer look: Hot springs and "ryokan" inns

Japan In-depth

Enjoy a type of relaxation on your trip only available in Japan

Photo_うぶや外観 Ryokan inns are traditional Japanese lodging facilities. The lodging fee usually includes dinner and breakfast. Guests take off their shoes at the "genkan" (interior entrance area) and are shown to a room lined with straw "tatami" mats. When you enter your room, you will find "yukata," which are comfortable robes designed to be worn in your room. These Japanese style ryokan inns are steeped in traditional Japanese culture. Enjoy beautiful scenery, high quality hot springs, rooms brimming with a clean feel, and food created with the skill of trained artisans. And standing at the center of a tradition of hospitality kept alive over the ages in Japanese ryokan inns is the "okami." Though the okami could be called the ryokan version of a hotel manager, what specially characterizes a ryokan okami is that traditionally this position is held by a woman who is a complete professional in high quality hospitality.

"Treating all guests with the same level of respect and making sure every guest enjoys their stay at the same level of comfort --- These are the most important things."
These are the words of Ms. Isako Togawa, the second okami of Kozantei Ubuya, an inn standing along Lake Kawaguchi at the base of the majestic Mt. Fuji. Since you are coming all the way to Japan, we want you to enjoy an experience that is only possible here and really captures the flavor of Japan. This experience will deepen your feeling of being in a different culture.

Escort into "the extraordinary"

Photo_女性の浴衣姿 Ms. Togawa gives two keywords to sum up the major attraction of Japanese ryokan inns: yukata robes and large bathing areas.

"In hotels, you need to wear some kind of attire outside your room. But at a Japanese hot spring, as long as you are wearing a yukata robe, you can walk around freely even around the inn or a hot spring resort area. Wash away the fatigue from your travels in the large bathing area and then simply put on your yukata robe after getting out and slip into relaxation... This is the spirit of Japan and the gateway leading away from the world of your daily life and into the realm of the extraordinary."

Core to this extraordinary experience where you spend leisurely hours free from your everyday attire is the okami and the ryokan inn staff working their magic, sprinkling assorted bits of hospitality both in and out of sight. For example, the bath area is kept tidy so it is always easy to use and when food is served, cold items and hot items are brought to the table with superb timing. When you pass by the staff while walking around the inn, they greet you with a smile that sooths the heart, and if you have any questions, they answer kindly. "Our main concept is 'a special time with special people'."
Hearts brimming with devotion to others. This is the philosophy at the heart of Japanese ryokan inns.

My role as a missionary of Japanese culture

Photo_床の間のある和室 "Straw tatami mats, alcoves (toko no ma), paper sliding doors (shoji), futons... No matter how much Japanese lifestyles become Westernized, I want to keep the wonderful parts of Japanese culture alive," says Ms. Togawa.

While adamantly keeping the cultural core alive, she never forgets to pursue the ever changing nature of customer satisfaction. In today's age with its increasing diversity of individual needs and goals in regards to trips, constantly searching for the absolute best form to meet the concept of hospitality that is currently desired is also part of the Japanese tradition.
The okami is more than a supervisor for providing high quality service in an inn. As a professional in hospitality and interior decoration and furnishings, she also plays the role of a "missionary of Japanese culture".

10 Asakawa Fujikawaguchiko-machi Tsuru-gun Yamanashi Phone: 0555-72-1145