Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Staying in a Japanese Ryokan in Shibu Onsen

Staying in a traditional ryokan is just one of those quintessential Japanese experiences that you can’t miss when exploring Japan. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, typically with tatami-matted rooms, sliding doors and communal baths. It is common courtesy to remove your shoes and change into slippers upon entering a ryokan. While there may be a lot of rules that come with staying at a ryokan, we were welcomed with open arms and the owner showed us the ropes with helpful explanations.

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

In our experience, staying at a ryokan was like staying at the equivalent of a quaint bed and breakfast, or maybe even more accurate, it felt like we were spending the night at the home of a friend.

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

There are many different varieties of roykan, from basic to modern to traditional to luxury, and no two are alike. We spent the night at a moderately priced ryokan in Shibu Onsen—it was adorable and had such a homey and welcoming feel.

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

We arrived at our inn, Senshinkan Matsuya, prior to check-in time, so we dropped off our luggage and made our way to visit the snow monkeys. Upon our arrival to check-in, we switched from our shoes to slippers, were treated to a warm glass of tea and then shown to our room where our luggage was ready and waiting for us.

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

After a quick rundown on the features of the room, we were given a quick tutorial on how to properly dress in our yukata. Since Shibu Onsen is a hot spring town, both residents and tourists alike, walk around town in their yukata and geta (robes and wooden shoes) on their way to and from the onsen.

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Guests staying overnight in Shibu Onsen are given a key access to all nine of the onsen in town—day trippers can only visit onsen #9, so if you want to visit more than one of the onsen, you need to spend the night in town. We didn’t have enough time to visit the public onsen, but I did check out the onsen in the basement of our ryokan. I went for a dip late at night before going to bed and had the place to myself. It was so relaxing and really helped me warm up after a chilly day.

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

The bathrooms are communal (don’t forget to switch to bathroom slippers when you go in) and there are no showers, but there are onsen as I mentioned above. Although some ryokan may have private bathrooms, shared bathrooms are typical. There are several that have private onsen on their balconies, though!

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Many ryokan stays include dinner and breakfast, and ours was no exception. Dinner was in the basement dining room and we were served a huge variety of dishes—we had salad, soba noodles, soup, a chicken dish, sushi, and a number of other dishes. Breakfast was the same way—we had a mix of western food and traditional Japanese dishes such as eggs, soup, and salad to name a few. Even though we weren’t fans of every single dish we were served, overall they were both fantastic meals prepared by a wonderful chef!

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Many o f the ryokan in Shibu Onsen take reservations only by email or phone, but I actually booked our room at Senshinkan Matsuya through booking.com. We paid approximately $180 for the night, but even though I booked the room online, we had to pay in cash upon arrival. The price for the night wasn’t exactly cheap, but it was much more affordable than most of the other ryokan in Shibu Onsen, and it included both breakfast and dinner. In my mind, it was worth the splurge, well, splurge for us anyways!

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

Ryokan in Shibu Onsen, Japan

I’m so glad we had the chance to stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan. We loved sleeping on the floor mats, the kotatsu table was a wonderful and cozy spot to relax in the room and having the chance to take a dip in the onsen made it a night we will always remember!

Have you ever stayed in a  ryokan? What’s your favorite type of accomodation?

 

14 Comments
  • Ron
    Twitter:
    Posted at 15:18h, 18 August Reply

    After years of watching anime, I’ve always wanted to experience staying at a ryokan in real life. Was a bit shocked at how pricey it was for a budget traveler though even if it seems like a great way to splurge! 🙂
    Ron recently posted…Top 3 Cities In Asia to Live and Teach EnglishMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 04:16h, 19 August Reply

      Yeah, I was surprised how expensive they can be, too. Ours was significantly cheaper than the others around, but it was still pricey! We thought it was worth it though, which I was glad about–it’s always such a shame to get disappointed when you pay a lot of something!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Robot Restaurant in Tokyo, JapanMy Profile

  • Meg Jerrard
    Twitter:
    Posted at 21:41h, 18 August Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Jenna! This post actually brought back a lot of fond memories – I visited Japan in 2003 with my year 9 language class when I was 15, and some of our accommodation was in a Ryokan. Because it was so long ago I can’t remember exactly which city or which property it was, though I do remember it was such a unique experience and that we had a wonderful time.

    So glad you enjoyed your time in Shibu Onsen – I can’t wait to get back!
    Meg Jerrard recently posted…How to Save Money on a Ski VacationMy Profile

  • Toccara
    Twitter:
    Posted at 04:50h, 19 August Reply

    What a unique experience. Not knowing much about Japan and its culture, I’ve never even heard of a Ryokan. The meals, the onsen, sounds like it’s worth the splurge!
    Toccara recently posted…Dining with Locals in BudapestMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:35h, 27 August Reply

      It was definitely worth the splurge in our books–we had a great time!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…In Motion: JapanMy Profile

  • Raphael Alexander Zoren
    Twitter:
    Posted at 04:56h, 20 August Reply

    Whoa! Great photos, I really love the simplicity of the awesome Japanese interior design! The wooden sandals are superb!
    Raphael Alexander Zoren recently posted…Highlights of my Alpine Life of WondersMy Profile

  • antonette - we12travel
    Twitter:
    Posted at 00:28h, 21 August Reply

    Thank you for explaining about the traditional way of staying in Japan. I had heard of the name Ryokan before but never realized this is actually a sort of inn. I’m amazed that dinner is included, this doesn’t happen a lot in the world anymore nowadays, but it sure looks very tasty!!

  • kami
    Twitter:
    Posted at 14:11h, 21 August Reply

    I’ve seen pictures of these places before but never really know how it’s called! so ryokan it is 🙂 It seems like a wonderful experience to sleep in such a traditional type of accommodation, when I go to Japan (and I really hope to make it there next year) I know where I’m gonna stay!
    kami recently posted…Why I loved visiting Cape TownMy Profile

  • Rashaad
    Posted at 11:43h, 25 August Reply

    I’ve stayed in a ryokan a couple of times and one in Yamagata Prefecture stands out in my mind. The owner’s wife cooked the most delicious meal for me – a vegetarian meal. Her meals were among the best I had in Japan. I stayed in that ryokan with a running club and that stay would have been enjoyable – if I weren’t injured.
    Rashaad recently posted…Home Sweet Home – GraduationMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:00h, 27 August Reply

      That’s too bad you were injured during one of the stays! Always makes it hard to enjoy a stay. Glad you enjoyed the one in Tamagata Prefecture though! The meal sounds fantastic!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…In Motion: JapanMy Profile

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