Japan’s 5 Best Ryokans: Enjoy The Traditional Hospitality of Japanese Inns

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Japan has some of the world’s finest hotels, but you haven’t experienced the best of Japanese hospitality until you enjoy a lovingly prepared meal in one of the country’s traditional ryokans or Japanese inns.

Whether a five-star resort complex or a humble hostel, the ryokan sets the standard for a comfortable and restorative stay.

Japan's Best Ryokans
Looking for the best Ryokans in Japan

Here are Japan’s 5 best ryokans, including a ryokan that is the oldest hotel in the world, running continually for a thousand years. 

Wondering what a ryokan is? Read the article “What Is a Ryokan: Your Guide to Traditional Japanese Inns”, to learn everything you need to know about Japan’s traditional inns. 

Japan’s 5 Best Ryokans

You’ll find Japan’s warmest welcome at these five leading ryokans.

They are all perfectly located for an escape from the busy modern lifestyle, to relax and revive the senses with great food, beautiful scenery, and memorable experiences.

Here are my top picks.

1. Hoshi

Location923-0326 Ishikawa, Komatsu, Awazumachi Wa 46 , Japan 
Star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Property typeRyokan
Book accommodationbooking.com
Are children welcome?Yes
Nearest airportKomatsu Airport (4.8 miles)

When you stay at Hoshi Ryokan, you’re staying at the world’s oldest hotel.

And it’s official, with the Guinness Book of World Records, confirming that this Ryokan, first opened in the year 718 AD. 

Hoshi Ryokan has been run by the same family for over 46 generations, an amazing feat, so you are going to get an authentic ryokan experience that will show you the best of traditional Japanese hospitality and cuisine. 

More photos on booking.com

Guests are accommodated in spacious suites with tatami floors, futons, and paper screens.

You can don a yukata to roam the elegant grounds and enjoy the hot springs and rich food that is continuously served in the dining room. In addition, there is an izakaya and bar on-site.

Though this is an old ryokan, the transport connections are modern. Hoshi Ryokan provides a complimentary shuttle to JR Kaga-Onsen Train Station.

2. K’s House Ito Onsen

K's House Ito Onsen
Location414-0022 Shizuoka, Ito, Higashimatsubara 12-13, Japan 
Star rating ⭐⭐
Property typeRyokan
Book accommodationbooking.com
Are children welcome?Yes
Nearest airportOshima Airport (20 miles)

K’s House Ito Onsen is another historic inn that has operated in Shizuoka for over 100 years.

The ryokan has been designated a Registered Tangible Cultural Property by the Japanese Government and you’ll be delighted by the traditional Japanese architecture and beautifully landscaped grounds.

Inside, guests luxuriate in gorgeous guest suites that sleep up to 9 guests in basic futon and dormitory accommodations.

More photos on booking.com

Some rooms have a Matsukawa river view and ensuite facilities.

K’s House Ito Onsen provides a shared kitchen and bathrooms, Wi-Fi, onsen, three lounges, and a library for guests to enjoy. 

The ryokan is conveniently located in central Ito, just two hours away from Tokyo (Shinkansen).

It is perfect for an Ito city break with visits to local sights like the harbor and the Museum of Art. 

3. Kyoto Takasegawa Bettei

Kyoto Takasegawa Bettei
Location600-8137 Kyoto, Kyoto, Shimogyo-ku Juzenjicho 196-3, Japan
Star rating ⭐⭐⭐
Property typeRyokan
Book accommodationbooking.com
Are children welcome?No
Nearest airportItami Airport (23 miles)

This is a great ryokan with a location, decor, and amenities that are in keeping with the historic city of Kyoto.

It is one of the city’s best Japanese inns for accessing central Kyoto sites like the Kyoto National Museum and Kyoto Tower. 

Kyoto Takasegawa Bettei provides air-conditioned ensuite rooms with beds, desks, and low seating.

More photos on booking.com

There are lots of traditional Japanese touches like the tatami flooring and tasteful paneling and wall art. Linen, towels, and a hairdryer are provided.

Some of the rooms offer a river view. A Western breakfast is served daily in your room and the staff are highly rated for their attentiveness. 

4. Zaborin

Location044-0084 Hokkaido, Niseko, Kutchan Hanazono 76-4, Japan
Star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Property typeRyokan
Book accommodationbooking.com
Are children welcome?Yes
Nearest airportOkadama Airport (39 miles)

Zaborin is one of Japan’s most exclusive ryokans.

It has an amazing location in the foothills of Mount Yotei, with an amazing view from its 15 individual luxury villas.

This modern ryokan has amazing attention to detail, greeting new guests with a tea ceremony and a complimentary cup of matcha, prepared by one of the region’s tea masters.

The villas each have a balcony with rural views and sleep up to six guests.

More photos on booking.com

Villas are equipped with their own onsen so you can bathe for as long as you want privately. In the central building, the Zaborin ryokan provides a library.

There are beautiful grounds and gardens to explore and a central onsen. Meals feature fresh, locally sourced ingredients prepared by the eminent chef Yoshihiro Seno.

5. Gora Kadan

Gora Kadan
Location250-0408 Kanagawa, Hakone, Gora 1300, Japan 
Star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Property typeRyokan
Book accommodationbooking.com
Are children welcome?Yes
Nearest airportOshima Airport (37 miles)

Gora Kada is a luxury ryokan and member of the Relais & Chateaux hotel chain that offers access to the very best of Hakone.

It offers comfortable rooms with fantastic mountain views with Japanese and Western bedding for up to six guests.

The air-conditioned rooms are ensuite, with complimentary toiletries, a hairdryer, and free Wi-Fi. 

The ryokan hot spring bath is popular with guests. Other recreations include spa treatments, massages, karaoke or just exploring the ryokan grounds dressed in an elegant yukata.

More photos on booking.com

An on-site restaurant serves a delicious seasonal menu, using only the freshest ingredients. 

Gora Kadan is just minutes from Gora Station, so you can easily access local attractions like the Hakone Open Air Museum and the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands.

Hakone Museum of Art is just a short walk away. 

In Conclusion

Ryokans are unique to Japan, so it is well worth exercising your Japanese speaking and etiquette by experiencing this special class of accommodation.

One of the best parts of staying at a ryokan is wearing the yukata robe. If you’ve never worn one, your hosts will gladly help you dress.

Just make sure that your robe is not too tight before sitting down to the multicourse feast that your hosts will serve you!

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