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What is a Ryokan?
A Ryokan is a Japanese style hotel or inn that originally comes from Edo-period. Ryokans would basically provide travellers with a room, food and hot baths. Ryokans are also mostly found in scenic places, like in the mountains or by the sea, where the guests can properly relax. The Japanese are well known for their hospitality, and almost all Ryokans offer hot springs and meals at their facilities.
Ryokan Dos and Don’ts
When staying at a Ryokan, you should arrive before 18:00 since the staff , in most cases, will be waiting for you. Dinner is almost always served at the Ryokan so the staff needs some time to prepare this for you.
Before you enter the Ryokan, remember to take off your shoes and change into the slippers they typiclly provide for guests. If you have a large suitcase, be careful with the flooring since most Ryokans are very old with wooden floors that can easily be scratched.
The room you will be staying will likely have rice paper sliding doors. These are typical for a Ryokan but they tear easily so use them gently. The Ryokan will also have a traditional Japanese flooring called Tatami which is made from straw. In Japanese culture, it is actually considered rude to enter a tatami room while wearing shoes or slippers, and so you are supposed to relax in the tatami room barefoot.
The room will include a Yukata, which is a traditional Japanese robe. You are welcome to use this, both inside and outside of the Ryokan. However, do not take this with you when you leave.
My first Ryokan experience at Seiriki
I stayed at Seiriki Ryokan in Yobuko in Karatsu City, in the Saga-Prefecture of Kyushu. Yobuko is a small fishing town that belongs to Karatsu City, and it is famous for one of Japan’s three largest morning markets. I fully recommend staying in the Ryokan by the Yobuko port to check out the lively atmosphere in the early morning would worth while.
The room and hot spring
At the time of my visit, it was cost 12,500 yen per night, per person (dinner and breakfast included). Staying at a Ryokan is definitely more expensive than staying at a regular hotel or inn, but staying at a Ryokan is about the experience. Relax, enjoy the food, and take in the breathtaking views while soaking in the hot springs.
Seiriki Ryokan in Yobuko has a beautiful small indoor hot spring. The walls and bath are made of stones and the overall environment is very luxurious. I personally prefer the outdoor hot springs with the fresh air, but Seiriki Ryokan’s hot spring is one of the nicest indoor hot springs I have visited.
My room had a beautiful view over Yobuko port and the fishing boats departing and arriving. The room also came with a western table near the window where I could sit and enjoy the view. There was also a low Japanese style table, a TV, and the room was stocked with hot water and tea.
When you stay at a Ryokan for the first time, you will notice there does not seem to be anywhere for you to sleep. However, once you have finished your dinner, the staff will clean everything and set up the futon you will use for sleeping.
I was especially happy with the staff and service at Seiriki Ryokan. I ended up with a room where the internet did not work, but the staff was so accommondating and I immediately made sure I was given a different room where the internet worked without problems.
When I walked into the lobby of Seiriki, the staff immediately welcomed me. They very quickly helped me into a beautiful corner room and asked me what time I would like dinner to be served.
In most Ryokans, you can choose when you would like to have dinner and breakfast. At exactly 7 o’clock, as requested, someone knocked on my door and served my meal. There was a huge variety of fresh seafood, such as sashimi, squid dumplings, raw squid called Ikezuriki sashimi, a beautiful Saga Wagyu beef dish and a lemon-jelly dessert.
Breakfast was my favourite dried and smoked mackerel from the Yobuko morning market, along with rice, steamed vegetables and miso soup. They serve very substantial meals at Seiriki Ryokan.
How to get to Yobuko
Karatsu station is the nearest train station. From Karatsu bus centre you can take a bus to Yobuko. From the bus stop it is approximately 10 minutes by foot.
Make an online reservation for Seiriki Ryokan: here
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