Welcome to the land of the rising sun.
Topping the lists of travelers across the world, Japan is known for its seamless fusion between modernity, culture, innovation, and nature. From the busy cities steeped in futuristic technologies to the lush rice-terraced countryside to the wooden houses and Shinto shrines of Kyoto, there is a world worth of beauty and intrigue to indulge in here.
You can just pay a high-rise hotel bill, take a few pics in Shibuya crossing, and move on. But, to truly immerse yourself in the authentic, local-style Japanese experience, seek out places that offer the real taste of Japan.
Very few things rival the tranquility and authenticity found in the humble ryokan. A traditional type of inn featuring tatami-matted floors, sliding shoji screens, communal baths, and authentic Japanese meals, ryokans are much more than just a place to rest your head.
Having gained popularity with a recent boom in tourism, it can be tricky separating the authentic ryokans from the touristy ones. To make your planning easier, we’ve done the research for you. Read on for fifteen of the ABSOLUTE BEST ryokans in Japan.
Standard Japanese Style Room at Tatsuta Ryokan in Yugashima
- > $$
- > 2 Guests
- > Hot spring pools and baths
- > River and mountain views
Japanese Style Room with Shared Bathroom at Ryokan Ichinoi
- > $$
- > 2 Guests
- > Traditional yukata robes and slippers
- > Tasty Asian breakfast served daily
One Bed at Naniwa Ryokan in Okuizumo
- > $$
- > 2 Guests
- > Japanese cuisine served
- > A minute’s walk from JR Izumo Station
Suite with Mountain View at Nishimuraya Honkan
- > $$$$
- > 6 Guests
- > Tatami suite, tea and coffee facilities
- > Private open-air bath
Staying in a Ryokan in Japan
Maybe you’ve heard of ryokans, or maybe you have no idea what I’m even talking about. Well, good news, I’ve got all the info you need for a comfortable stay in Japan.
Ryokans are a traditional accommodation that offers a truly immersive Japanese cultural experience. They’re founded on the principle of respect for hospitality. Modern ryokans have private guest rooms. They are usually small and designed in a traditional Japanese style. No decor and minimal furniture are to be expected.
Rooms are fitted with a woven rice straw mat known as a tatami, which can only be walked barefoot (and what a treat it is to walk on these soft mats). The doors to your suite might be a sliding shoji screen, traditionally made from translucent rice paper and a wooden frame.
Some ryokans have a balcony or a small garden featuring traditional Japanese landscaping like moss, bamboo, and local plants. Many are even located on or near ‘onsens’, which are natural hot springs.
What to Look For in a Ryokan in Japan
If you’re a fan of a spa, pick a ryokan near an onsen. Onsens or natural hot springs are dotted all over the country, and most ryokans are located on or near these warm water spouts. Guests can enjoy communal baths and invigorating waters, usually set in the gardens or overlooking gorgeous views.
Bathrooms are usually shared. If this won’t work for you, there are some modern ryokans with private ensuite bathrooms for each room.
Foodies, find yourself a ryokan that serves an exceptional kaiseki meal. While some ryokans offer a more simple meal, kaiseki meals are a multi-course dining experience that showcases the artistry of Japanese flavors and cuisine and is a must-try during your trip to Japan.
Booking.com has a specific ‘ryokan’ filter and is the best platform to find properties across Japan. Airbnb also has a few great ryokans to browse through.
The Top 4 Ryokans in Japan
Now that you have a better understanding of what a ryokan is and what to expect when staying in one, it’s time to take a look at THE best ryokans in Japan.
Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly room or a full luxurious experience, there is a ryokan on this list for you.
Standard Japanese Style Room at Tatsuta Ryokan in Yugashima – Overall Best Value Ryokan in Japan
With complimentary Wi-Fi in common areas, shared indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, and air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms, Tatsuta Ryokan in Yugashima is a blast for those traveling on a budget.
Relish in the tranquility of this traditional ryokan with a view of a river and a towering bamboo forest. The four-star property features modern essentials like Wi-Fi (in common areas) and air-conditioning, yet still brings a sense of absolute calm and relaxation.
Located along an onsen and river, guests can make use of indoor and outdoor hot spring baths and enjoy breakfast and a traditional Japanese dinner at the Kawadoko restaurant on-site. There is nothing better than waking up to the sound of rushing water flowing past your room. And on that note, guests can also relish in their own private ensuite bathroom at this property.
One Bed at Naniwa Ryokan in Okuizumo – Best Budget Ryokan in Japan
Japan is expensive. Really expensive, actually. If it’s cash you’re worried about, this is one of the best ryokans in Japan on a budget. Located in a residential area in the Nita District, this privately run ryokan has one room with space for four guests, as well as two shared bathrooms.
It’s just a minute’s walk from the JR Izumo Yokota Station and offers free parking, Wi-Fi, and laundry facilities. After a day exploring the area, return to the ryokan to enjoy a delicious local and seasonally inspired Japanese meal.
Suite with Mountain View at Nishimuraya Honkan – Most Luxurious Ryokan in Japan
Immerse yourself in this luxuriously unique accommodation in Japan. Nishimuraya Honkan is a five-star property that offers world-class Japanese service. With over 150 years of history behind it, a gorgeous garden with hot spring baths, and a traditional artwork gallery, this is easily one of the more opulent ryokans in the country.
Each room has a traditional futon bedding with tatami floors, is air-conditioned, and comes with a kettle and private ensuite bathroom. As if it wasn’t luxurious enough, dinners are impeccable, usually featuring wagyu beef and fresh crab.
Japanese Style Room with Shared Bathroom at Ryokan Ichinoi – Best Ryokan in Japan for Couples
Step inside a world of serene beauty and romantic simplicity at Ryokan Ichinoi. An ideal getaway for traveling couples, the accommodation features spacious private rooms with comfortable futon beds and a seating area on tatami mats.
Breakfast is served each morning, and the hosts also prepare a multi-course meal in the evenings. Located on a bubbling onsen, you can spend your free time relaxing in the indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, of which three are totally private (for a small booking fee). You can even book a couples massage – what a treat!
More Epic Ryokans in Japan
Hold tight, there are even more options to pique your interest! Check out a few more of my favorite ryokans in Japan!
Found a travel buddy and now on the lookout for an electrifying Japanese experience?
Just a five-minute walk from the Takayama Station, Ryokan Asunaro offers the perfect balance between relaxation and authenticity. Experience the wonders of the hot water bath with your friends and snap pics wearing your favorite Yukata robe
Each morning and evening, you can share stories of your Japanese adventure over a multi-course Japanese meal. The rooms are spacious and simple, with traditional tatami mats and futon beds, an electric kettle, and even complimentary Wi-Fi.
Give your family the experience of a lifetime at Jukeiso, a three-star ryokan overlooking the impressive entrance gate of the Itsukushina-jinja Shrine. Seriously, you could not stay closer to this UNESCO World Heritage Site if you tried.
The ryokan features a public indoor bath, which guests can access 24 hours a day, and an outdoor bath, which you can book for private use. Small plates of traditional Japanese cuisine are served for breakfast and dinner. Suitable for small families, family rooms can sleep up to five guests on traditional futon beds.
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The biggest flex for us, broke backpackers is traveling cheap to expensive countries. But just because cash is tight doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the authentic ryokan experience.
This spot hits the perfect balance between affordability and authenticity. It’s centrally located near a bunch of attractions and temples and offers spacious and sunny rooms with traditional tatami floors and futon bedding.
Guests can also unwind in the hot spring baths or even partake in a local flower-pressing class at this ryokan in Japan on a budget.
Rustic charm fused with modern elegance, there is something uniquely special about Koyasan Shukubo Yochi-In. The three-star ryokan is actually a temple located in the sacred Mount Koya area, where Buddhist monks come to pray.
Guests can take part in a morning ceremony at the temple with the monks, meditate, learn sutra copying, and how to trace Buddhist deities at an additional charge. The ambiance of this space is calming and spiritual. Paired with public baths and traditional ryokan rooms, it is the perfect recipe for reconnecting with your inner self.
By definition, most ryokans are all-inclusive. They include lodging and at least two meals each day. But this one goes the extra mile, offering a bar and restaurant, complimentary Wi-Fi and toiletries, luggage storage, and accessible rooms.
The modern elegance of tatami mat floors and sliding shoji screens brings a sense of tradition and culture into this ryokan. Wake up to freshly prepared breakfast at the family-friendly restaurant to fuel you for a day of relaxing in the hot spring baths.
The only thing you’ll need to worry about is how you’ll adjust to leaving this serene haven!
Combining Japanese cuisine with traditional ryokan hospitality, there is no better place to experience the tranquility of Japan’s culture. AWA Nishi-Izu is a four-star accommodation in Heda that puts a modern twist on the traditional ryokan.
Instead of tatami mats and futon beds, the accommodation is Western-inspired. However, with authentic Japanese architecture and interiors, the vibe is still undeniably authentic. The ryokan has a range of wellness offerings, from a classic onsen public bath to yoga classes.
It’s also one of the best ryokans in Japan for nature lovers, who can cycle and hike through the surrounding mountains.
Escape the busy metropolises of Japanese cities and set up shop in this affordable ryokan in Nabari City. The Japanese-style home offers self-catering accommodation, with two bedrooms and space for six guests.
The house itself is full of character, with over 150 years worth of history to share. Long-term visitors will be able to do their laundry and park on the premises. The home also features a fast Wi-Fi connection – digital nomads, I’m looking at you.
Top that off with a Japanese breakfast included in your rate, and you’ll be calling this your home away from home in no time.
Something out of a dreamscape, this ryokan will literally transport you into another era. Nestled in the bamboo forest on a historic estate, this private cottage is part of an authentic Japanese village experience in the tea fields of Sasama.
You’ll have the entire space to yourself, which means you can enjoy exclusive use of the bathhouse, garden, pond, shrine, and stargazing deck. Big win!
The area is known for hiking, but I don’t blame you if you just slow down your trip to reflect and recharge in the cozy ryokan. Just make sure to visit the tea house on the estate while you’re there!
Nestled between bamboo forests, tea fields, and rushing rivers, this unique accommodation in Japan’s Yui Valley is the perfect pitstop for those traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto.
While the area is great for hiking, try your hand at a bamboo workshop, green tea ceremony, and a traditional acupuncture treatment while in the area.
This historic home is 100 years old, with traditional shoji screens and tatami floors bringing a sense of tranquility into the space. When booking the ryokan, you’ll get access to the full house, with two large living rooms, a kitchen, three bedrooms and bathrooms, and an outdoor deck.
Experience authentic Japanese living with a touch of luxury at the Nazuna Obi Onsen Resort. Located on a hot spring in Nichinan, this accommodation puts a modern swing on the traditional ryokan.
While floor seating, tatami mats, and shoji sliding doors are to be expected, the bathrooms are modern, and the rooms include a few Western-inspired touches.
Guests start the day with a peaceful traditional breakfast ritual and can relax in the garden or shared lounge areas throughout their stay. When you aren’t indulging in your zen room, I recommend strolling around the local neighborhood. If you aren’t convinced yet, a picture of the food will sway you.
You can’t get more traditional than this simple ryokan in Japan. Just a couple of steps from the Takayama Station, this traditional ryokan offers Japanese rooms with a pop of color. Suites feature traditional bedding with ensuite bathrooms, a coffee machine, and a green tea set for a touch of culture.
The comfortable futon beds, textured tatami mat flooring, and indoor and outdoor hot spring baths are bound to leave you feeling relaxed and restored. Throw on a Yukara robe, and you’ll feel like you’re in a high-end spa throughout your stay. You can even book a massage for an additional fee.
Don’t Forget Your Japan Travel Insurance
With every kind of travel, unfortunate shenanigans always have the potential to ruin your trip. This is why you should definitely consider some solid Japan travel insurance, even if you’re just embarking on a weekend getaway.
ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.
They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.
SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!
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FAQs About Ryokans in Tokyo
I hear ya, drowning in questions about finding the best ryokans in Tokyo. So, here’s the lowdown on some of the most common queries.
Final Thoughts on Ryokans in Japan
It’s safe to say that you’ll be getting a lot more than you might have expected when staying in one of the best ryokans in Japan. Founded on the principles of hospitality and relaxation, these traditional inns are one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in Japanese culture and way of life.
Choose from family-friendly ryokan experiences, or indulge in the full works at a luxurious onsen ryokan with spa treatments and multi-course dining options. No matter your budget, there is a ryokan in Japan with your name on it.
All that’s left now is for me to wish you an incredible trip!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!