Home > Japan In-depth > Exotic Experience > The crystallization of Japanese culture is the ryokan inn

The crystallization of Japanese culture is the ryokan inn

A closer look: Hot springs and "ryokan" inns

Japan In-depth

The spirit of hospitality will make your night stay the very best

Photo_料理 Greeting guests arriving at the inn are the warm smiles of the okami and her staff and the expression "irasshaimase" (welcome). From the flowering plants that casually decorate the entire interior of the inn and the cleanliness that extends to every nook and cranny to each skillfully prepared dish of food, everything designed to make your stay pleasant is the crystallization of hospitality. For example, when compared to luxurious resort hotels, at first glance the Japanese ryokan inn seems to be composed in a simple and straightforward manner. However, even if the latest facilities and splendor seem to be absent, the staff is completely devoted to striving for complete satisfaction among all guests. The permeating aesthetic sense is imbued with the spirit of traditional "sado" (the way of tea) that can be felt in how the staff leads the guest to a small room, serves a cup of tea, and treats the guest with the ultimate in hospitality, manners, and furnishings.

The Japanese style room provides the ultimate in amenities

Photo_床の間、和室 The ultimate form of this wonderful hospitality is the Japanese style room (washitsu) where you spend the night. Enjoy the sensation of the straw tatami mat on your skin when you walk barefoot, the refreshing feel of lying down and fully stretching out your arms and legs, and the fragrance of straw that gently wafts up from the straw tatami mats. This power of the "Japanese feel" that straw tatami mats possess has been treasured by the Japanese people for ages. These tatami mats that are currently spread out to cover the floor of Japanese style rooms first started to become widely popular from the 9th century, and were first used for areas where high ranking personages sat. That is why they are the perfect furnishing to seat the guest, who is a high ranking personage in the eyes of the inn staff. Japanese rooms come fitted with cultural items that emanate a Japanese ambiance, like the "toko no ma" alcove space that decorates the Japanese style room by displaying hanging scrolls (kakejiku) and seasonal flowers, paper sliding doors (shoji) that beautifully leak in light from outside, and thicker sliding doors (fusuma) that section off the room (some are decorated with paintings). All of these wonderful elements await you on your trip.

A unique architectural style that blends the interior space with the exterior

Photo_庭と縁側 Many ryokan inns with a long history are made of traditional wooden architecture. Wooden architecture has good breathability, cuts sunlight in the summer, and lets it penetrate during the winter. This is the ultimate space to feel the air on your skin in each season of Japan. One big difference between Japanese wooden architecture and architecture of the west is the high ratio of trees used as building material. For example, unlike Western architecture that piles stones and bricks to separate the exterior from the interior, Japanese wooden architecture incorporates a veranda space called an "engawa" between the interior and the outer garden. The word "en" in "engawa" is a word Japanese people use often, and it means ties between people. The engawa is a space where people who come from the outside can visit with people who live inside. They are also spaces that link people with beautiful gardens.

After thoroughly enjoying all of these elements of the bathing experience, food, and refinement at a ryokan inn, you will be warmly sent on your way with the words, "Please come back again," when check out time finally comes. Your shoes will be placed neatly so as to be easy to put back on.
And the staff at the inn will keep in mind "the spirit of hospitality" right up to the very end, even as you fade away from their view.