Kyoto is a very unique and traditional place to me as compared to the other places that I’ve visited in Japan.
For our trip, Parita suggested that we stay at a ryokan so as to get the whole experience. For the clueless, here’s the definition of a ryokan according to Wikipedia.
A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn dating from the Edo period (1603–1868), when they served travelers along Japan’s highways. They typically feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukata and talk with the owner.
Ryokan are difficult to find in Tokyo and other large cities because many are expensive compared to hotels, and Japanese people increasingly use hotels for urban tourism. Kyoto, a city many people visit for its ryokan, is a notable exception. Nonetheless, some major cities do have reasonably priced ryokan, with some costing as little as $40 a night. However, ryokan are more typically located in scenic areas: in the mountains or by the sea and can charge upwards of $400 per night.
We stayed at the Nishiyama Ryokan which set us back S$160 per person per night. Pretty pricey! The ryokan we stayed in an attached onsen. Again, the definition of an onsen.
An onsen is a term for hot springs in the Japanese language, though the term is often used to describe the bathing facilities and inns around the hot springs. A volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsen scattered along its length and breadth. Onsen were traditionally used as public bathing places and today play a central role in directing Japanese domestic tourism.
Onsen come in many types and shapes, including outdoor and indoor baths. Baths may be either public run by a municipality or private often run as part of a hotel, ryokan or Bed and Breakfast.
Onsen are a central feature of Japanese tourism often found out in the countryside but there are a number of popular establishments still found within major cities. They are a major tourist attraction drawing Japanese couples, families or company groups who want to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax. Japanese often talk of the virtues of “naked communion” for breaking down barriers and getting to know people in the relaxed homey atmosphere of a ryokan with an attached onsen. Japanese television channels often feature special programs about local onsens.
Here are some pictures of the ryokan that we stayed at.
Parita taking off her shoes. We are supposed to wear their slippers around the ryokan.
The very kind porter who helped lugged my super duper heavy DOMO bag. There’s where i stuffed my 9 pairs of shoes!
Check in here…
This is where we have our breakfast…
Here’s our room! There isn’t any lifts in the ryokan we were staying at (doubt there’s lifts in any ryokan i think!) so the poor porter had to lug our very heavy luggage up the flight of stairs.
This is our room. For now, it’s being set up as a little cosy area for us to enjoy some snacks and drink some (green) tea.
We put on this coat that they provided (does anyone know what this is called?) and headed off for dinner…
Pics galore of the makan! I dunno what is what man! Japan really trained me to eat dubious looking items. hurhur.
It was really an enjoyable meal. The portions were too tiny though!
We trooped off to our rooms and found that they had brought a little supper snack for us!
I don’t know what I was eating but it was yummy! Suspect it’s something red beanish.
They had laid out our beds for us. There’s our bed! Sleeping on the floor!
It was actually quite comfy. Good night peeps!
Next entry – The onsen experience. 😉