On your next jaunt to Japan, go the way of tradition with a stay at a ryokan or a Japanese guesthouse. Typically furnished with traditional elements such as futon beds, tatami flooring and onsen baths, it offers an insight into local culture and is a great way to experience authentic Japanese hospitality. What’s more, ryokans often conduct activities and excursions that allow guests a chance to immerse in their locales – think visits to a sake brewery or watching a swordsmith at work.
Here are three must-visit ryokans:
Kifu No Sato
Reflecting the owner’s penchant for flowers, this sprawling guesthouse in Okayama is graced by dozens of exquisite floral arrangements in its rooms and hallways, alongside artwork and furniture designed by local craftsmen. Additionally, tatami mats are spread throughout the entire facility to make walking extra comfortable, and rooms feature open-air onsen baths and even a pillow menu.
Interestingly enough, the ryokan is located in the Yunogo historical quarter, which is the birthplace of renowned swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. We recommend joining the ryokan’s bespoke Samurai Culture Tour, where you’ll get to watch swordsmiths forging swords and visit martial training halls.
Rates start from JPY27,525 ($326) per room, inclusive of a kaiseki dinner and breakfast for two; click here for more info.
Located in Okayama prefecture, by the banks of a pretty canal lined with willows, this cosy, five-room ryokan is an oasis of calm amid the hustle and bustle of the city. Once home to a wealthy sugar merchant, it was converted from several old warehouse buildings and a rice granary. Having undergone a renovation recently, the ryokan now boasts a new design aesthetic that blends Japanese and Western elements – so expect traditional tiled walls alongside modern conveniences like flat-screen TVs.
Luxuriate in the ryokan’s elegant surrounds and have kaiseki (a traditional multi-course dinner) served to you in the comforts of your room. If you’re venturing out, check out the guided tour of the nearby Bikan Historical Quarter, where there are museums aplenty, like the Museum of Folkcraft.
Rates start from JPY33,350 (S$396) per room, inclusive of a kaiseki dinner and breakfast for two; click here for more info.
This 150-year-old ryokan is located in Kobe, in the small town of Arima whose hot springs are a huge draw for visitors from around the world. Nakanobo Zuien boasts grand onsen baths, filled with two different types of spring water – “gold water” (Kinsen) is rich in iron deposits and is said to be good for skin ailments, while “silver water” (Ginsen) contains radium and carbonate, which help ease muscle and joint pain.
Not open to children below the age of 13, the ryokan is perfect a couple getaway. Soaking for hours on end in warm spring waters and then enjoying a delicious kaiseki meal prepared from the freshest local seafood – we can’t think of a better way to reconnect with Hubby!
Rates start from JPY32,550 ($386) per room, inclusive of a kaiseki dinner and breakfast for two; click here for more info.
For more information on these ryokans, visit www.ryokancollection.com.