Just like at home in Japan, when entering a ryokan I was required to take off my shoes, put them neatly on the shelf, and replace them with special slippers.
A middle-aged woman swiftly bowed, greeted us. He rushed to give welcome drink and snacks. I devoured a small snack of biscuits filled with red bean and hot Japanese green tea, which was perfect on this chilly autumn afternoon.
He took our suitcase, then wiped the wheels. Wow, that’s really good. But seeing the tatami-shaped floor of the ryokan, I immediately assumed, “Surely he doesn’t want the floor to be dirty and damaged, so the wheels of my suitcase are cleaned first.”
Hih, you lambe mz wir!
This ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn. Although the building looks old, usually this ryokan is not a budget inn. The price is practically equivalent to a four or five star hotel.
Regular ryokan is calculated per person, not per room. Usually includes dinner and breakfast.
The rooms are predictable: very spacious with typical Japanese interiors. The floor is tatami, a Japanese flooring material made of straw. The door is also a sliding door. There are no chairs, we have to sit on this floor if we want to relax.
Do not be surprised if there is no bed. Mattress and his friends were hidden in the cupboard. So if you want to sleep, feel free to do it yourself wherever you like! If you’ve ever watched Doraemon, you’ll know this.
The Japanese call this bed a Futon.
The first time I tried to stay at this ryokan, I was a bit shocked actually.
When I wanted to take a shower, it turned out that there was no bathroom in the room! Wow, a room for a five-star hotel like this doesn’t have an en suite bathroom? I immediately suspected.
I also asked the ryokan staff. With body language of course. I demonstrated taking water in a tub with a dipper and pouring it over my head. The hotel staff, who is beautiful and wearing a kimono, is confused.
“Showwaaaaa, showaaar,” I said with an accent Japanese-English. The lady seemed to understand then took me to…
A.k.a. room, uh, I mean, a shared bath.
“The blue door is for men, the red door is for women,” said Ms. The lady smiled and said goodbye.
I was the only one standing in front of the onsen door.
“Hmmm, when are you going to feel so Japanese?” I said confidently.
After thinking a bit hard, eh hard, I ventured in. But what a surprise I saw the scenery in there. A man with a small trunk (okay, big and small is relative, yes. Uh how?) out of the bath.
He paused, looking at me expressionlessly. I froze for a few seconds. Without a command, I immediately turned back.
“Hopefully I don’t have nightmares tonight,” I muttered.
I went back to Ms. Protest. I don’t want to bathe naked with strangers. It just feels weird haha.
But yes, it’s called onsen culture. Communal warm water pool which if we want to enter it, we must not wear a single thread. But before entering we have to take a shower first with the shower next to it while squatting.
I could have bathed in that shower. But it’s even more terrifying, because those who are in the pool can be “satisfied” to see me. Hey!
The mbak understood and gave me a key. “Private onsen. 8 o’clock until 8 30,” he said. It turns out that there is a private onsen that we can use privately. Or with the people we want. Uhm. But yes there is a time because you have to take turns with other people.
Not all ryokan have to bathe in an onsen huh. I’ve stayed at ryokan several times, there are also hybrid ones. I mean, the interior is really a ryokan, but the bathroom and mattress are normal.
Anyway, for those going to Japan, if you have a few days there. Take a night to stay at this ryokan. I think it’s a really unique and fun experience!
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