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What is a Ryokan
What is a Ryokan Ryokan and Japanese culture Why stay at a Ryokan when in Kyoto? The Ryokan experience How is it different from a hotel? Isn't it expensive?
Ryokan and Japanese culture

A Ryokan is an accommodation facility independent to Japan and of course, it is as much apart of Japanese culture as any other traditional arts or historical monuments you may have read about in books or magazines. They cannot go their separate ways. You can experience the culture of Japanese food, clothing and shelter all in one place. And that is not talking about modern culture like Manga comics, anime, computer games and such, but the tradition that Japanese people in modern day have the tendency to forget. As Ryokan are preserving this important part of Japanese culture the cost of accommodation is set accordingly.


Firstly, Kimono.
The traditional clothing worn by Japanese. Till only a few decades ago, as you may have seen in some Samurai movies, people in Japan used to wear Kimono in their daily life. Asides from some people who wear Kimono for their jobs, most people in Japan do not wear Kimono anymore. In a Ryokan, you can find the hard working staff in Kimono or other traditional Japanese wear. Many of the staff at the front desk are in suits, but in most cases you will find the guestroom staff in traditional work wear or Kimono. Also, you yourself can wear a simple Kimono called a Yukata when you stay in a Ryokan.

Secondly, the food.
Modern day Japan has a diverse food culture. Although Japanese people eat a variety of food from all over the world daily, Japan holds great pride in the long history of traditional Japanese food. A high level of technique is required in preparing authentic Japanese food, so going to a specialty restaurant is the norm. Especially in Kyoto, there are many famous restaurants that hold a high reputation all over Japan. Moreover, the Japanese food served in Kyoto called [Kyo-ryori] is especially renowned for its high skill and fine delicacy. Unlike hotels, it is standard process that the Ryokan offer 2 meals per night, of course Japanese dining. Either or, you can experience an authentic Japanese meal casually.

Then comes the architecture. Another significant part of Japanese culture.
Originally, Japanese Ryokan were built with wood, but in recent years the construction with concrete and steel has become more popular than before. As Ryokan have a long history, it is most commonly seen as a building structure with two floors. The interior of Ryokan are still Japanese independent of the construction being of steel and concrete. The traditional authenticity of the Ryokan differs between each one, but all have Tatami floors or flower displays, or paper room dividers and such. The set up of these all originated from the way of Japanese weather, climate and spirit. Commonly seen in traditional houses, but the popularization of western living standards has rapidly decreased the number of structures with traditional Japanese architecture. In the future, Ryokan may be the only preserved authenticity of Japanese tradition.

Lastly there is the high service level of [Hospitality].
In Japan, the service industry is much of a different quality than can be seen abroad. Especially in Kyoto, it is recognized nationally. Hospitality is an instinctual custom that was apart of all traditional Japanese and must carried on into the next generation through the services offered at every Ryokan.