The 10 best ryokan inns in Japan, as chosen by travelers
For many travelers in Japan, a night in a ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, is the highlight of their trip. However, ryokan are often small, family-run operations, and picking one can be difficult since they often don’t do much in the way of advertising or other promotions to earn widespread name recognition.
Fortunately, the users of travel website TripAdvisor are here to help, with the following list of their 10 highest-rated ryokan in 2017.
10. Ryokan Biyunoyado (Nagano)
We’re going to be seeing a lot of onsen (hot spring) resort locations on this list, including this inn found in Nagano Prefecture’s Yudanaka Onsen community. Come hungry; one guest says “food here is theatre, and they do it well.”
9. Oyado Yamakyu (Gifu)
This ryokan is located in the town of Takayama, with its well-preserved historical downtown and delicious wagyu beef, was always worth a trip, even before it started getting extra attention as the inspiration for the rural setting of anime hit "your name." Oyado Yamakyu’s multiple outdoor hot springs are a great way to soak away the tiredness of a full day of multi-faceted sightseeing.
8. Jinpyokaku Honten (Nagano)
Back to Nagano, this time to the town of Kanbayashi Onsen, Jinpyokaku has been in business since 1901, and offers intimate accommodations with only six rooms to the facility and outdoor baths where guests can warm their bodies while gazing at freshly fallen mountain snow.
7. Hinodeya (Shizuoka)
Foreign travelers often breeze past Shizuoka on their way between Tokyo and Kyoto, but this ryokan, located in the Izu Kogen highlands, got high marks from those willing to go off the beaten path, with one satisfied reviewer saying “The staff was extremely friendly and we felt pampered during our entire visit.”
6. Arashiyama Benkei (Kyoto)
Beautiful rooms, elegant baths, and a riverside location in the Arashiyama district on the western outskirts of downtown Kyoto, one of the most refined neighborhoods of an already refined city. Just remember that you get what you pay for, as per-person rates (even without meals) regularly climb past 25,000 yen.
5. Ryokan Sawanoya (Tokyo)
Think your low-cost accommodation options in Tokyo are limited to capsule hotels and all-night Internet cafes? Nope. Sawanoya is a legitimate ryokan with per-person rates starting at just 5,400 yen a night, breakfast available for the unbelievably low charge of just 324 yen, and all within walking distance of Nezu Shrine and Ueno Park.
4. Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan (Gunma)
Gunma is another part of Japan that isn’t on most foreign tourists short list of destinations, which can actually be a positive. “It is somewhere you would want to go to escape from the rest of the world and just let time stop for a while,” said one reviewer.
3. Shiraume (Kyoto)
Shiraume literally means “white plums,” and true to its name, a pair of plum trees flank the bridge that crosses over the canal to the inn’s entrance, with their branches adorned by white blossoms in late winter. The ryokan’s Gion district location means that you’ll be staying in Kyoto’s geisha culture capital.
2. Yokikan (Shizuoka)
Another auspiciously named ryokan (this time meaning “Sunny Inn” or “Friendly Inn”), Yokikan boasts an outdoor bath that manages to feel secluded while still offering a fantastic view of the coastal town of Izu.
1. Luck You (Kyoto)
Finally, we find ourselves back in Kyoto, at Luck You, which spells its official name quite a bit differently than its original Japanese one of Rakuyu (“Enjoy and Play”). Luck You is techinically a machiya, an old-fashioned wooden townhouse of a style strongly associated with Kyoto.
Unlike many of the other ryokan in the top 10, Luck You doesn’t have communal Japanese-style bathing facilities, as each room has its own private bath. There is, however, a sento (public bath) across the street, which combined with Luck You’s location in the central but less touristy western half of the Gojo neighborhood makes it a great place to let you feel like you’re living the Kyoto life.
Source: TripAdvisor via IT Media
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