Japan Tip: Bring Snacks to the Ryokan

Ryokan and Love Hotels are must-experience accommodation in Japan.

Ryokan are traditional inns where you can lounge in yukata in tatami-matted rooms. Typically guests partake of the in-room, elaborate kaiseki meals.

Tokiwa Bekkan Kaiseki Breakfast

We stayed three nights at Tokiwa Bekkan in the hot spring town of Kinosaki, 3 hours by train from Osaka or Kyoto.

Tokiwa Bekkan is a great ryokan, impeccable service, tolerance of the foibles of foreigners, with a tranquil setting. Kinosaki’s few restaurants were a bit far, and their hours are limited mostly to lunch. So we had the first dinner and each breakfast in our room.

The many courses are beautifully presented. Flavors are delicate. Portions are so skimpy.

Hungrily peek under the lid of a bubbling pot to see one cube of tofu.

Every meal I scraped clean the rice bucket and hunted for more. During the third breakfast I found half an Almond Joy bar left from my China Airlines meal on the flight over. The maid was quite shocked to see that wrapper on the fish plate.

Enjoy the meals and pack a snack to top off.

Rapid Travel Chai newsletter ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook ¦ Instagram

  • JB

    BTW I’m planning on living in Kobe for 5 weeks in April.
    How much was the Ryokan?

  • guera

    Yes, I’m interested in the cost of the Ryokan also. Did you go to the hot springs there?

  • ALCO

    Surprised to read about the skimpy portions. We stayed at Tsuruga Hinanoza Ryokan at Lake Akan in Hokkaido last year, and the Kaiseki dinners and breakfasts were almost more than we could eat. The place isn’t cheap, but to this day it ranks as one of the most impressive stay experiences I’ve had anywhere in the world, after nearly 2 million miles and a decade of traveling.

    I took some photos of the room and one of our kaiseki meals and uploaded them to Flickr:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/travelingotter/sets/72157632175870354/

  • @JB, @Guera – the ryokan typically charge per person rather than per room, so for us it was base rate US$80/night, plus $20 for breakfast, plus $60 for dinner. With the dinner cost we only did that once. Breakfast we kept doing because of the limited options in town, only convenience stores open in the morning.

    I will do a separate post on the hot springs. There are 7 in town and all included in the ryokan rates. They are not lavish or designed for tourism by any means. They are typical Japanese baths, some with pleasant outdoor areas. The fun is going from bath to bath and strolling the main drag in yukata.

  • @ALCO – thanks for sharing, the photos are incredible. We had looked at Hokkaido and it did work for this trip, now we have extra motivation to get up there next time.

  • Brandon

    Are there any affordable lodging options in Kinosaki or in Hyogo Prefecture? $80 per night is incredibly high, especially compared with the lodging options in Kyoto and Osaka.

  • @Brandon – Kinosaki is rather expensive and this is prime crab season. There are only a few ryokan and the cheapest I found is $63/night, the website: http://www.kinosaki-web.com/en/ has a number of listings, as does booking.com. I did not see any traditional hotels in town. There should be cheaper options in surrounding towns in Hyodo near some of the natural parks if willing to commute.