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Japanese-style Hotel "Ryokan"
What's is a Ryokan?> Difference between a Western-style hotel and a Japanese Ryokan
Japanese-style Hotel "Ryokan"
What is a Ryokan?
  Various Encounters with the Unknown  
  Difference between a Western-style hotel and a Japanese Ryokan  
  Feel Reluctant to bathe in the Presence of Others ? - Guestrooms with an Open-air Bath Available  
  Sleep on FUTON placed over the TATAMI Mats!  
How to choose a Ryokan
Okami, the Landlady
The Fee System & Prices  
Photo Gallery  
  Origins and History of the Japanese Ryokan (PDF)  
  The wonders of Japanese Architecture & the Japanese Garden (PDF)  
  An Invitation to the Profound Taste of Japanese Cuisine (PDF)  

Now You Stay in a Ryokan
Receiving Guests
Prelude to Relaxation  
To Your Guestroom  
Guestrooms of the Ryokan  
After Settled Down in Guestroom  
Japanese-style Garden  
Onsen, Hot Springs  
Open-air Hot Spring Bath  
Private Open-air Hot Spring Bath  
Massage & Esthetic Treatment  
Comfortable Slumber  
  How to use Chopsticks (PDF)  
  The four Seasons and the Seasonal Calendar of the Japanese Ryokan (PDF)  
  Glossary of Terms Related to the Japanese Ryokan (PDF)  
How to enjoy staying at a RYOKAN  
Ryokan Experience by Expatriates  

  What is Ryokan?

Difference between a Western-style hotel and a Japanese Ryokan

The greatest difference between a Western-style hotel and a Japanese ryokan is the fee system, with the ryokan charging for 'one night's stay with two meals'. The two meals are the evening meal on the day of your arrival, and breakfast served the following morning. At the majority of ryokans, these meals are served in the guestroom. At some ryokans, the meals are taken in a large dining room or a private room specially for the purpose, but the 'heya-shoku' (dining in the guestroom) is the most common style of eating at Japanese ryokans. This is probably rooted in the practices of the former 'hatago' (inns) and 'honjin' (daimyo lodgings). 'Heya-shoku' are full-course meals that are quite different from the 'room service' provided at hotels which are usually light meals. This reflects the spirit of hospitality unique to the Japanese who cordially welcome guests by treating them to sumptuous meals prepared with the greatest care.

At a Japanese ryokan, it is common for guests to take off their shoes at the entrance and to change into slippers or zori (Japanese sandals). This custom, which is also practiced in ordinary homes, stems from the tatami culture. The tatami is an indoor flooring peculiar to Japan. Rice stalks are dried into straw, which is then firmly bound with thread and covered with woven rush on the surface, to produce a rather thick mat. The tatami mat is also used as a measuring unit, and the number of mats used in a room corresponds to the floor space of the room. The suppleness and excellent moisture absorbing and releasing qualities, and acoustic absorption and sound insulation properties make the tatami mats well-suited to the Japanese climate. The tatami culture is also closely linked with the Japanese food culture which consists of rice as the staple food. When entering a tatami-matted room, you must also take off your indoor slippers. In recent years, at an increasing number of ryokans, the guests do not have to remove their shoes at the entrance but can keep their shoes on as far as their guestrooms. Slippers and zori sandals are shared items and so are kept clean for the arrival of each new guest.

A large dining room

Evening meal - beautifully presented

Dining in the guestroom
Japanese-style breakfast
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