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Japanese Ryokans ............

(10 Posts)
ZaraW Sat 01-Nov-14 08:31:21

I have the chance to travel with a friend to Japan next year have always wanted to go and have found a great tour we can join but for 4 nights the accommodation is a ryokan. I'm not a fan of communal bathing especially naked (yes I am a prude)! I know for many people the ryokan and onsen (sp) is one of the highlights of their visit.

So please let me know what your experiences were and did you feel comfortable?


SoldeInvierno Sun 02-Nov-14 07:24:46

I didn't mind the communal bathing so I tried it and loved it. The water can be extremely hot though. I stayed one night at a Ryokan. Good experience but I would not rush to repeat it. It was very traditional: very hard futon bed, tiny Japanese bath, etc. Food served in the room with no choice. As I say, it was fine as an experience but next time I would just go for a normal hotel

NotCitrus Sun 02-Nov-14 07:55:35

Don't go for a really cheap ryokan which is more like a backpacker hostel - the tatami mat bedroom was probably the same as anywhere, but the loos and baths were down the hall with a rather strong smell of chlorine and the bath cubicles were for two with partitions around each one - sitting in hot water was nice but it was like being in a small loo room with bright Lego-blue plastic walls and ceiling.

Would love to get the proper pampering experience one day.

ZaraW Sun 02-Nov-14 17:51:01

Maybe I am getting confused is the ryokan where you have the shower facilities where you sit down communally and clean yourself and then go into bath or is that an onsen?

The ryokan which the group stays at has shared facilities but would that generally include private showers/baths in the communal facilities? Maybe I am getting myself worked up over nothing. Also, are they that strict about tattoos?

Maybe a ryokan isn't for me I have a bad back and am a strict vegetarian and my friend has several large tattoos I think we will be the guests from hell for them. Thanks it has give me something to think about. Maybe we can do it ourselves and do the hotel thing I guess with the bullet train and Japan Pass there is no need to join a group?

MillyMollyMama Mon 03-Nov-14 22:29:28

You don't need to join a tour. However, I would get a travel company to organise the Rail card and your itinerary. Takes a lot of stress out of it and you get to go to places that interest you, not other people.

We used Audley Travel and we did stay at a Ryokan. It was at Tsumago. Audley put a fabulous tour together for us and it was truly memorable. I too was concerned about the Ryokan but it was no problem. The hot tub, onsen, could be booked and the loos/showers were available all the time. They were in a different area of the Ryokan, but it was a small building. As you booked the onsen for your personal use, there was no-one with you. The Japanese tend to go in as a bigger group, although in our Ryokan, not that many could get in the onsen. These Ryokans are popular. You also have traditional food but in ours, the host knew western guests wanted western breakfasts too. I think you could survive being a vegetarian! The tatami mats are fine and I would have thought they were good for backs.

On our holiday, we mostly stayed in hotels. However, the Ryokan hotel was a great experience for two nights and it was in the old post route which offers some great walking. It is also quiet, unlike nearly everywhere else. The one we stayed at was not especially luxurious, but it was welcoming, charming and comfortable with superb food. Very high ratings too.

The Japanese are unfailingly polite and no-one would comment about you. They just don't do that. There are lots of onsen, so a Ryokan that has suitable facilities is important and companies like Audley can advise. If you want a more private experience, you can have that.

OliviaBlue Mon 03-Nov-14 23:50:57

SoldeInvierno is right - it is very traditional. The beds can be uncomfortable, especially if you've never tried out a futon before. And the water was very hot. I actually found it uncomfortable to move a lot in the water - kinda like if you run a hot bath and it's a little too hot and it stings a little to move so you add cold water. Except, they won't add cold water.

It won't burn you or anything, it's just so hot it verges on tolerable. It's very relaxing though and wonderful if you have any aches or pains.

Definitely try it - what's 4 days of your life to experience an entirely different culture?

I'm sure you'll enjoy.

OliviaBlue Mon 03-Nov-14 23:51:38


ZaraW Tue 04-Nov-14 13:27:39

Brilliant thanks everyone, if we can reserve a private area that will be better I've done the communal naked bathing in Eastern Europe and it wasn't the highlight of my trip I really don't want to do it again, I'm not very "Continental" smile My friend is also concerned about her tattoos and being barred from using the onsen.

Good to know there are private shower areas as well.

MillyMollyMama Wed 05-Nov-14 00:06:37

There are not private showers at every one though!!! You will need to check out what you are getting before you go!

ZaraW Wed 05-Nov-14 16:41:38

Milly thanks we'll be sure to check before making a booking!

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