According to the Google Dictionary, a Ryokan (旅館) is defined as a a traditional Japanese inn. What makes it traditional is it features pieces of its origins that date back to the eighth century A.D. Each room is tatami matted and visitors where yukata, traditional robes. Most inns have communal bathrooms.
Ryokan’s are located all over Japan but overly priced in major cities like Tokyo, compared to Airbnb or hotels. They’re more common and more affordable in smaller cities with picturesque scenery.
We decided to stay at the Inn Kawashima in Kyoto off the Nishki Market based on a friends recommendation. recommendation. on a friends recent trip.
We booked for about $167 a night for our last night in Kyoto before we headed to Osaka. At this point in our trip this was the fourth place we stayed.
The Inn Kawashima is centrally located to two stops away from Kyoto station, which is perfect if you’re taking the JR trains to another city. It’s also at the foot steps of the Nishki Market. Honestly, if you walked outside the door there was a cafe to your left and a restaurant to your right and down the block were bars and the market.
Standing outside, there is an air of nostalgia as if you’ve seen this image before but fall in love with every time you blink.
Once you pass through the curtains, you slide open the front door to meet in a front mud room like area. You’re basically greeted with indoor slippers that you’ll be wearing throughout the premises as well as the owner of the ryokan.
Remember, ryokan’s have that special touch. It is less about commerciality and more about the tradition and customs.
We stayed on the first floor in the back by the zen garden. You read the correctly – there was an outdoor zen garden outside of our room. It’s open air too – meaning it’s only enclosed by a couple of those curtains. This is an amazing feature to most ryokans your illustrate tradition but particularly zen-ful when it’s rains. The meditative sounds off the old wooden roof into the zen garden was equivalent to the Calm App.
The rooms themselves are equipped with sort a study or tea area, and a sleeping area with the tatami mats. For those apprehensive about sleeping on the floor, it was genuinely some of the most relaxing sleep we got through out the trip.
Your stay also includes: toothbrush, blow dryer, tea and the yukata robe.
The owners of the inn were also a pleasure. The energy and care when you entered and exited reminded me of home. They allowed us to leave our leave pre and post check in which was a game changer for sightseeing.
Overall, I would highly recommend the ryokan experience. Try to stay more than one night if you can. I also highly recommend the Inn Kawashima. It is definitely an experience you won’t forget.
If you haven’t already read through the other articles in the Japan series go do it by clicking here.