A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn that originated in the Edo period (1603–1868), when such inns 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 more typically located in scenic areas, such as in the mountains or by the sea, and tend to be more expensive. Guest rooms are constructed using traditional Japanese methods: flooring is tatami, and doors are sliding doors. Even if the inn uses hinged doors for security, it usually opens into a small entranceway where guests can take off their shoes before stepping onto the tatami floor, which would be separated by a sliding door. Many ryokan rooms also feature a porch or balcony, also set off with a sliding door.
Almost all ryokan feature common bathing areas or ofuro, usually segregated by gender, using the water from a hot spring (onsen) if any are nearby. (Areas with natural hot springs tend to attract high concentrations of ryokan). High-end ryokan may provide private bathing facilities as well. Typically ryokan provide guests with a yukata to wear; they might also have games such as table tennis, and possibly geta that visitors can borrow for strolls outside.
Bedding is a futon spread out on the tatami floor. When guests first enter their room, they usually find a table and some supplies for making tea. The table is also used for meals when guests take them in their room. While guests are out, staff (usually called nakai) will move the table aside and set out the futon.
Official Website: ryokan-yachiyo.com
Photo Credit: Mikael