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Onsen Etiquette
Onsen Resorts

There are many types of accommodation within Japan, from the finest ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) to the more basic minshuku - effectively family homes that cater to guests on a budget or who wish to gain a better insight into Japanese everyday life. (Onsen, while they occasionally offer accommodation, have been dealt with in a separate section. )


Ryokan  - the traditional Japanese inns - are generally set in beautiful gardens with running water, rocks and trees carefully laid-out to provide a feeling of natural scenic elegance. Although generally costly, the visitor is recommended to try and spend at least one night in a ryokan to ensure an authentic Japanese experience. For anything upwards of Â¥8,000 per night the visitor can expect a dinner (kaiseki ryori - classic Japanese cuisine)as well as breakfast in their room - the maid will lay out a futon on the tatami mat floor after the evening meal.

Each room can cater for between one and four guests and prices can vary dramatically depending on the day and time of year. For the best rates aim for a weekday in low season when a ryokan can be booked for ther same price as a decent hotel.

It is expected that visitors to ryokan will comply with the rules of etiquette. Remember to leave shoes at the entrance, wearing slippers throughout the building apart from on tatami flooring where it is the custom to go barefoot. A clean yukata ( Japanese-style dressing gown) is provided for use throughout your stay and it is the custom to wear this at mealtimes and throughout the building. A maid will arrive with your dinner and present it at your table before discreetly exiting to leave you to enjoy the food. Request a western-style breakfast if the traditional Japanese meal of rice, miso soup and fish does not appeal.

Minshuku  - are smaller inns normally separated from the owner’s house and provide more basic accommodation on a bed-and-breakfast basis. There is a common room for all guests to eat the generally excellent home-cooked meals and the guests are left to lay out their own futon. Again Yukata robes are provided but no towels. Again the quality of service, facilities and surrounding buildings will be reflected in the price but expect to pay around Â¥5-7,000 per night .

Kokuminshukusha - Government-sponsored travel lodges generally found near tourist attractions. Not as cheap as they once were, they provide meals in a common dining hall, often with a large common bath and shared toilet facilities. Yukata and towel provided and prices are generally in the region of ¥8-11,000 per person including evening meal and breakfast.

Pensions -offer a less traditional experience with western food served in common dining halls and western-style toilet facilities. Often popular with the younger traveller on a budget the prices start from about ¥5,000. No Yukata or towels are available.


Youth Hostels - Important to reserve by email or telephone in advance (especially during the busy summer period), these are a popular choice with the younger traveller on a budget. For about ¥2,500-3,000 expect a bed in a communal room (private rooms sometimes available) with sheets,meals/cooking facilities extra. No age-limit and a variety of private lodges, farms, temples and inns to choose from as well as the more institutional accommodation one may expect. Contact the JNTO for a Youth Hostel Handbook

Shukubo - are temple and shrine lodgings which generally offer accommodation for a set fee. Although the accommodation may be rather basic, the setting is usually stunning amid beautiful gardens. Highly reccommended, expect to pay about ¥5,000 for a night’s stay to include meals.


Precision Reservations

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