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Original Article

Feature article crafted from the perspective of Luntan

Experiencing Traditional Japanese Culture at ‘Ryokan’
– The Major Differences Compared to Hotels

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For Japanese people, ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) are familiar, but they hold surprising cultural elements for foreigners. Ryokan are unique accommodations in Japan that have been around since the Nara period!

Originally, ryokan were mainly established in temples and post towns, providing lodging for travelers and worshipers. However, during the Edo period, many ryokan were built along highways and in hot spring areas, developing as a part of Japanese culture.

Although ryokan are also accommodations, they are very different from hotels. “Ryokan” is perfect for experiencing traditional Japanese culture with the whole family! Let’s take a closer look at their features.

 

 

Table of Contents

1. Enjoy and Savor! Japanese Architecture and Design

2. What is Unique About Japanese Layouts? Room Structure and Facilities

3. Meticulous Service and Hospitality

4. Is Even Meal Service Different from Hotels?

5. Experiencing Japanese Culture

6. Unique Pricing System of “Ryokan”

7. The Charm of Family-Run Operations

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1. Enjoy and Savor! Japanese Architecture and Design

The architecture of ryokan emphasizes traditional Japanese aesthetics. They feature tatami rooms, sliding doors (fusuma), paper screens (shoji), and Japanese-style gardens. Exteriors often include wooden structures and tiled roofs, incorporating designs that reflect Japan’s four seasons. Additionally, ryokan are typically low-rise buildings designed to harmonize with the natural surroundings.

 

 

2. What is Unique About Japanese Layouts? Room Structure and Facilities

Many ryokan rooms feature tatami-matted Japanese-style rooms. While ryokan with Western-style bedrooms are becoming more common, the typical style involves laying out futons on the tatami mats for sleeping, allowing the room to be used for various purposes during the stay. Tea sets are provided in the rooms, allowing guests to enjoy tea at their leisure. Additionally, some rooms come with open-air baths or spacious Japanese-style gardens.

 

 

3. Meticulous Service and Hospitality

The service at ryokan places a strong emphasis on the spirit of  hospitality. Typically, upon arrival, guests are greeted by staff dressed in traditional Japanese attire who escort them to their rooms. Meticulous services such as setting up and clearing futons, serving meals, and preparing tea are common features. Additionally, guests may have the opportunity to participate in events and workshops to experience Japanese culture during their stay.

 

 

4. How is Meal Service Different from Hotels?

In ryokan, seasonal dishes made with locally sourced fresh ingredients are served. Unlike hotels where meals are commonly offered in restaurants or cafes, dinner in ryokan is often enjoyed either in guest rooms or in dedicated dining areas, featuring elaborate and luxurious meals such as kaiseki or traditional multi-course dinners. Breakfast typically includes a Japanese-style set meal, emphasizing health and flavor, and showcasing the unique characteristics of each ryokan.

 

 

5. Experiencing Japanese Culture

Some ryokan offer opportunities to experience traditional Japanese culture such as tea ceremony, calligraphy, and kimono dressing, allowing guests to immerse themselves in local customs and traditions. Additionally, ryokan located in hot spring areas provide a significant allure with the chance to relax in natural hot springs while enjoying their stay.

 

 

6. The Unique Pricing System of ‘Ryokan’

In ryokan, unlike hotels where room rates typically cover accommodation only, the standard is generally a package that includes both lodging and meals, known as “one night with two meals included.” This so-called all-inclusive model has been deeply rooted in ryokan culture since ancient times. Prices vary depending on factors such as seasonality, room category, the type of meals provided, rooms with hot springs, and special experience packages chosen by guests.

 

 

7. The Charm of Many Family-Run Operations

The operation of ryokan is part of Japan’s traditional tourism industry, adhering to local regulations and guidelines specific to each region. Particularly in hot spring areas, compliance with laws such as the Hot Spring Law and local ordinances is essential. Moreover, many ryokan are family-run, employing a locally-oriented management style. This rootedness in the community allows guests to experience the warmth and local traditions of the area, adding to the charm of staying at a ryokan.

 

 

Looking at it again, there are indeed many differences between ryokan and hotels. By the way, Western-style accommodations like hotels were introduced to Japan in the late 19th century. Nowadays, there are also hybrid ryokan that incorporate the best of both worlds. With Japan offering a richer array of lodging choices, it’s exciting to explore various accommodations during travels.

 

 


 

Luntan for Insagram , we showcase many wonderful ryokan.

Please take a look!

https://www.instagram.com/luntan_global/https://www.instagram.com/luntan_jp/

 

 

 

 

 

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Original ArticleFeature article crafted from the perspective of Luntan

Experiencing Traditional Japanese Culture at ‘Ryokan’ <br/> – The Major Differences Compared to Hotels

Experiencing Traditional Japanese Culture at ‘Ryokan’
– The Major Differences Compared to Hotels

  

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