Staying

Ryokan

ryokan

Ryokan are traditional Japanese inns; the key difference from a hotel (which in Japanese are ホテル – “hoteru”) being that ryokan will have Japanese-style bedrooms: think tatami mats on the floor and futon to sleep on. Ryokan range from the cheapish to the very expensive; at the best you can expect to be served traditional kaiseki meals in your room, and in resort towns many are attached to onsen (hot spring baths).

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Pictured above is just one part of an evening meal at the Senkei ryokan, Hakone – the biggest, and most expensive, ryokan I’ve ever stayed at. It’s an amazing place, with an outdoor onsen bath looking out over the hills – a great experience, but not one I can afford to repeat often, sadly!

If you want to experience something similar at a budget price, though, there are options. I’ve stayed in other ryokan for prices comparable with a cheap business hotel – think £50 per night, which often includes a simple breakfast of toast* and coffee or tea, rice and fish.

In particular, I’d recommend the Ikawa Ryokan in Hiroshima. It’s over to the West of the peace park, and so something of a hike from the station (get a tram if you can), but I found it a friendly, low cost place, and a good base for visiting the city and nearby Miyajima.

* Japanese “toast” is made with the bizarre type of sliced white bread found in Japan – big and puffy. It’s an acquired taste, I’d go with the fish..