Forget about conventional hotels. The next time you’re in the Land of the Rising Sun, opt to stay at a ryokan instead. Travel site TripAdvisor has revealed Japan’s best ryokan or traditional Japanese-style inns. The list is compiled according to reviews from its global travel community.
Unique to Japan, ryokan are known for their distinctive cultural hospitality experience, featuring tatami floors, futon beds, Japanese style hot spring baths and exquisite local cuisine.
“A stay at a ryokan can provide a window into age old traditions that the Japanese take a huge amount of pride in,” said TripAdvisor communication director (Asia Pacific) Janice Lee Fang.
Below are the best ryokan in Japan:
1. Shiraume, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Shiraume is located in one of Kyoto City’s most historic areas, Gion. Tomoko, the okami (a female manager for a ryokan) here pampers her guests with personalised services to glowing reviews. A TripAdvisor reviewer commented, “From speaking with Tomoko via email to make our booking through to the day we left every single thing about Shiraume is outstanding. It’s everything a westerner could ever hope for in experiencing traditional Japanese hospitality.”
Nearby attractions: Tofukuji Temple and Komyoin
2. Ryokan Fujioto, Nagiso-machi, Nagano Prefecture
The Nakasendo, part of a network of ancient highways connecting Kyoto and Tokyo, is known as being a popular hiking route that passes several small villages with historical structures and waterfalls. Ryokan Fujioto is located in Tsumago, a town on the Nakasendo route and is popular amongst travellers for its friendly staff and local cuisine.
A TripAdvisor reviewer commented, “The hosts were welcoming, helpful and spoke excellent English. The room had amazing views of their beautiful gardens. The highlight was the outstanding meals, both dinner and breakfast which were prepared lovingly using local ingredients and beautifully presented. Memorable stay.”
Nearby attractions: Nagisomachi Museum and Tsumagojuku
3. Gero Onsen Fugaku, Gero City, Gifu Prefecture
Surrounded by rich nature, the Gero Onsen is a well-known hot spring resort in Japan and has been since the 10th century. Gero Onsen Fugaku is a popular ryokan and has a reputation for its great views and food.
A TripAdvisor reviewer commented, “We stayed there for 1 night and it was definitely one of the best ryokan experiences I’ve ever had. The room was spacious and perfectly clean with good modern amenities. The kaiseki dinner was high quality. The onsen at the top floor overlook the river which is a great view even at night. We all managed to get some good sleep with the very comfy tatami bed.”
Nearby attraction: Gerohatsu Onsen Museum and Shirasagi no Yu
4. Ryokan Sawanoya, Taito, Tokyo Prefecture
Located near Ueno Park, Ryokan Sawanoya is a traditional family-run inn. A TripAdvisor reviewer commented, “This was our first experience with Japanese style rooms and it did not disappoint. A lovely authentic experience in a quiet but convenient location.”
Nearby attractions: Nezu Shrine and Yanaka
5. Ohanabo, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Ohanabo is located in a convenient area of Kyoto which is a five-minute walk from the main Kyoto Station. A TripAdvisor reviewer commented, “Ohanabo was a wonderful experience for us. It was my first time in a ryokan, and I have to say it was nothing short of superb, among the best hotels and inns I have stayed in.”
Nearby attractions: Kyoto Tower and Nishi Honganji