The Japanese have always celebrated the subtle minimalism present in their architecture for centuries. However, no type of Japanese building accentuates this more than the ryokan, or traditional inn. Ambassadors, celebrities, and tourists alike have flocked towards the ryokan in favor of a busy hotel for its seclusion, impeccable service, and zealous attention to detail. The revitalized notion of luxury inherent in all ryokan emphasizes experience and peace of mind over more traditional opulent proclivities like wealth, status and power. In essence, those who seek to maintain a peaceful mental equilibrium will undoubtedly appreciate the power of the ryokan.
Gion Hatanaka, Kyoto
Located in the heart of the Gion District in Kyoto, Gion Hatanaka is a secluded and peaceful ryokan that invites visitors to immerse themselves in the surrounding nature. An attentive staff on hand offers first class hospitality as you indulge in local hot springs, geisha tea ceremonies, and a luxurious kaiseki dinner.
This epitome of lavishness in the Kanagawa Prefecture accentuates the formal luxurious elements found in all ryokan, with the addition of a full service spa where visitors have the opportunity to pamper themselves with all the traditional extravagances that Japan has to offer. Travel outside of Gora Kadan to experience several other hot springs and see why Hakone has been nicknamed “The City of Seventeen Spas”.
Renowned for its painstaking attention to detail in hospitality, design, food preparation, and service, Tawaraya is a three-centuries-old inn that is arguably the finest in Japan, if not the world. With only 18 rooms, Tawaraya requires booking long in advance to avoid capacity, although those who have experienced the ryokan have claimed that they are treated as if they are the only guests in the entire building. From the staff adorned in seasonally appropriate kimonos to the scrupulous slicing of sashimi, Tawaraya is one of those places everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
Ibusuki Hakusuikan, Kagoshima
The spa at Ibusuki City in the Kagoshima Prefecture is a favorite among many travelers. Aside from its rustic yet luxurious accommodations, Ibusuki’s sand bath is what keeps visitors coming back. While burying yourself in hot sand may seem peculiar to some, the Japanese believe that increasing blood circulation through the heat and weight of the hot sand increases health and vitality.
Hoshinoya is a picturesque ryokan hidden away in Arashiyama in Kyoto. Blending the ancient traditions of the ryokan with modern elegance and amenities, Hoshinoya offers first class hospitality, activities, and beyond, becoming a choice locale for anyone looking for the true meaning of Japanese luxury.
Located in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Myojinkan is a lovely ryokan with a friendly staff and a wide range of amenities. Rooms with private gardens and onsen are available, and many say that the food served is among the best out of many ryokan.
Guest rooms at Kayotei, located in Ishikawa, are arranged in the traditional tea ceremony pavilion style. With two indoor communal baths, this hot spring ryokan offers visitors spectacular views of forest sceneries.