Ryokan accommodations offer a first-hand cultural experience and one that is highly recommended during vacations in Japan. A ryokan is essentially a Japanese style guesthouses or inn. They come in many different sizes and are all across the country. From expensive ryokans to affordable ones, there is something to suit almost every budget. A ryokan showcases traditional Japanese ambience and customary surroundings. Onsen ryokans have traditional Japanese baths, via adjacent hot springs, available for guests.
Typically, anyone arranging a stay in a ryokan during Japanese vacations should expect rates anywhere between 7,000 and 30,000 Yen, or just under $100USD all the way up to a few hundred-and even a thousand for some of the best ryokans in Japan. At the lower end of the spectrum, expect nothing more than a basic inn with no frills. A choice in between is generally ideal for a first-timer hoping for a memorable experience in a typical Japanese setting.
Some of the more expensive Ryokans are directly linked to Japanese hot springs, where there are both indoor and outdoor baths to choose from. Hokkaido is as well known for ski resorts as it is for having the best ryokan in Japan. The former private estate on Hokkaido island, called Ginrinso, is a 19th century building now home to one of the top ryokans in the country. The estate's roof exhibits a temple-like design sheltering each individually styled room complete with many regional, hand-made adornments. This ryokan sits perched adjacent to a hot spring, offering a beautiful view of Ishikari Bay. Both international and Japanese cuisines are served. Guests can also use the onsite games room and lavish karaoke bar.
Many luxury hotels, though luxurious, don't offer an experience akin to a ryokan. The customary tatami mats, low tables and seating, and habits observed inside all showcase ancient Japanese practices and lifestyle. To find the best ryokan in Japan near Tokyo, one only needs to look as far as Hakone-Ginyu. Tucked into the verdant mountains in Hakone, this spa-resort offers an incredible experience. Simplicity is key here, an integral part of Japanese culture. Nothing is over-complicated and this is perfectly illustrated inside Hakone Ginyu. Wood, stone, bamboo, and other natural materials comprise this mountainside getaway. All guest suites-available in both Japanese and Western style-access private hot springs. There are also larger outdoor and indoor facilities. Shopping and dining are both nearby.
There are also several ryokans and onsen ryokans outside of Kyoto. Ryotei Koyoen is only ten minutes by train from the city. This is the best ryokan in Japan near Kyoto providing great value and wonderful surroundings by Lake Biwa. Large, open rooms provide an airy feeling and a connection to the outdoors. There are both female-only and male-only baths indoors and out and a large swimming pool outdoors. Guests enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine, served in the dining room, where there are great views of the lake. There are outdoor gardens to stroll through during the warmer months.
The Japanese bath ryokan experience is best arranged during cooler seasons. From later in the fall through early spring, guests can enjoy the experience how it is meant to be; soaking in hot water with cool to cold air temperatures for the ultimate in invigoration. A snowfall at an outdoor Japanese hot spring is a coveted experience. Any inn, whether expensive ryokans or simply mid-range, should be avoided during weekends. On weekends the Japanese flock to the inns as they also do during special events and holidays-when rates can double and even triple-and reservations are hopeless.