Japan is a country fused with traditions and technology. Whether you’re a traveller wanting to keep up with this latest hype or someone who relishes a peaceful retreat, this country is for you. However, I feel, regardless of your interests and itinerary requirements for travelling Japan, you should stay in a Japanese Ryokan Kyoto at least once. Why Kyoto and why a Ryokan? Well, to answer this, I’m going to break the question into two parts.
First of all, let me share with you the magical destination of Kyoto. Located in the Kansai region 50km east to the city of Osaka. This tranquil city used to be the ancient capital of Japan for 1000 years! Where most emperors lived in the Kyoto imperial palace, then the emperor Kamnu moved to Tokyo, with the capital moving alongside it. However, still today, the Japanese heritage is scattered all over Kyoto with deep routed traditions.
Over 1000 temples in Kyoto!
UNESCO has declared 17 spots as world heritage sites, and there are over 1000 temples in this city! You can probably sense that due to the whopping number of temples, there is a deep-rooted Buddhist culture present in this city. Which makes it a popular city for many Japanese nationals to visit for pilgrimages and many international travellers. Alongside the Shinto shrines and temples, you will come across beautiful castles too. Not forgetting the authentic tea ceremony with numerous Kyotan teahouses. Then you have picturesque gardens and one of the best places to visit in the cherry blossom season.
Although this city is infused with modern shopping malls, restaurants and bars in its centre. Residents still stick to keeping ancient trades alive such a silk weaving, embroidery, cords, theatre, ceramics, folding fans, bamboo fans and many more. One prime tradition still alive today is the preservation of the Geishas. Especially the Geiko’s and Maiko’s which peacefully drift through the streets of Gion. Kyoto’s most famous district for Geisha. When you visit on an evening, you can see beautiful lanterns lit in Gion. Do also remember to take a romantic stroll with yourself or someone special across the stunning Kama-Gawa River just next to Gion. Just like the river, Kyoto is known for its pristine and clean water source.
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Pristine Resources in Kyoto
Clean drinking water and delicious food surround Kyoto. One particular beverage which derives from Kyoto is green tea. It was discovered there, and some of the worlds most expensive green tea reside in Kyoto. As in anywhere in Japan, you’ll see words like matcha all over the place which is the cheapest powder form. However, there are many more forms of green tea.
Do you know that soothing feeling when you sip a great cup of green tea? Well, that feeling I had tingling through my core and tickling my goosebumps when I was in Kyoto. It’s genuinely a classical and peaceful Japanese city. Residents take pride in the Buddhist culture, maintaining historical sites and traditional industries. Everything about Kyoto is beautiful, which is paired even more so with gorgeous cherry blossoms or autumn leaves. Am I creating a vivid picture for you yet?
Now let me tell you Why to Stay in Japanese Ryokan Kyoto.
Japanese Ryokans are one of the most traditional forms of Japanese accommodation. They have been around since the eighth century and one of the oldest types of hotel in the world. You can find them scattered all over Japan. However one of the best places to stay where they are most present is in Kyoto.
Japanese Ryokan Kyoto
Nowadays you can get many forms of ryokans. Traditionally, the accommodation used to be a large hall with tatami mats used for flooring. Guests of the Ryokan could mingle inside the big hall in their bare feet or slippers. However, nowadays, it’s more of a private room.
Depending on the tradition of your Ryokan, you will be provided with a rolled out futon on tatami mats. You get a translucent paper screen often for your window or as a room partition, separating your room. Alongside a lot of wooden/bamboo type furniture located in the room. There are modern Ryokans where there are televisions and kettles in the room too. Ryokans are traditional as they come.
When you enter the Ryokan, you have to take your shoes off beforehand then put them in a locker, gaining a pair of slippers. Similarly, when you reach your room, you’ll get a yukata which is a gown type kimono outfit to wear. It’s incredibly comfortable, and I recall lounging with my friends eating food in the central area when I was in a Ryokan.
Bathrooms in a Ryokan
Depending on your room, sometimes you may get an attached bathroom in your Ryokan. However, the most common type is where there is a large indoor bathtub known as a Furo. Usually, its in the Ryokan for everyone to use different intervals. The water in a Furo is boiling and it’s only for washing in. To wash your hair etc., you have to use a shower head outside the bath. The aim of the Furo is to sit in hot water and de-stress.
Well, now I’ve given you two reasons to visit Kyoto and stay in a Ryokan. In my eyes to stay in a Japanese Ryokan Kyoto is an experience. Kyoto is a blissful and destination full of tradition and unspoilt beauty. Both experiences combined are relaxing and peaceful. I really feel staying at a Japanese Ryokan in Kyoto adds to the traditional Japanese experience. I highly recommend if you’re visiting Kyoto to stay in one. If not Kyoto, at least one at some point during your time in Japan.