A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese style inn found throughout the country, especially in hot spring resorts. It offers not only a place to sleep, but also an opportunity to experience traditional Japanese lifestyle and hospitality, featuring tatami-matted floors, futon beds, Japanese style communal baths and local cuisine. Because of its traditional Japanese style and atmosphere, Ryokan may appear intimidating for some visitors, however, it is worth indulging for one special night during your stay in Japan.
Almost all ryokan feature communal baths, usually indoor and outdoor, segregated by gender. Typically, guests are provided with a yukata (Japanese bathrobe / light cotton kimono) to wear inside the Ryokan and its neighborhood. Bedding is a futon spread out on a tatami-matted floor. The futon is set out by staff while guests are out. Most ryokan offer dinner and breakfast. Dinner typically consists of traditional Japanese cuisine known as Kaiseki, which features local and seasonal specialties.
An “Onsen” is a public bath using natural hot water from various hot springs. Thanks to years of volcanic activity, the number of hot spring resorts in Japan numbers more than 3,000, sourced from as many as 28,00 natural hot springs dotted throughout the country, making Japan the number one hot spring destination in the world. Many onsen resorts promote healing, health & beauty benefits derived from the characteristics of their spring water and mineral content. Combined with a beautiful natural setting and delicious local cuisine, onsen resorts attract many tourists and locals alike.
There are a few specific manners to observe when visiting an Onsen. Your tour manager will guide you through the details and give you helpful tips and instruction. For example, you will completely undress and won’t wear a swimsuit. While the experience can feel strange at first for some, many travelers end up enjoying this activity. Please be aware that travelers with tattoos may not be permitted to enter certain public onsens. For the more reserved traveler, a private onsen may also be an option.