If you wish to feel Japanese culture, a ryokan might be just the thing for you.
Raffaele, who has stayed at a ryokan before with her Japanese colleagues, mentions three points to sum up the major attraction of ryokan accommodations: traditional Japanese architecture, sleeping on a futon spread out on tatami mats, and wearing a yukata after taking a bath. “I have been interested in Japanese omotenashi culture for a long time, so I wanted to take advantage of thisopportunity to understand it”, she says.
When we arrived at Sumiyoshiya, Ms. Mie Sumi, the okami-san of the ryokan greeted us. Raffaele’s appearance in a kimono and classic Japanese hair-style delighted her very much.
Ms. Sumi outlined the servicing system of a ryokan while leading us to one of the guest rooms. Ryokan guest rooms are usually designed in the traditional Japanese style with straw tatami mats, shoji paper sliding doors, and a tokonoma alcove used for placing flower vases and hanging scrolls (you already know that you should take off your slippers when entering the tatami room, right?). They feature a glass enclosed sitting area called hiroen that overlooks a garden or surrounding view.
Decorate the guest room
Serve tea to guests Serve tea to guests
“I feel quite comfortable”, Raffaele said looking at the quaint furnishings in the room with great interest. “I suppose the futon is kept here during the day?” she asked while pointing to the oshiire closet. Bingo! And it will be prepared by ryokan staff when the guests are out of the room eating Align guests shoesdinner or taking a bath (most ryokan have communal baths for guests to use). In the corner of the room she found a set of yukata; a light cotton kimono the guests may wear after taking a bath for relaxation and for sleeping as well.
Behind the furnishings:
the omotenashi spirit and
In a ryokan, the role of the okami-san and the heart of hospitality are handed down from mother to daughter or to daughter-in-law, and they dedicate themselves to making their guests’ stay a pleasant one.
Ms. Sumi showed Raffaele the basic manners and behavior of ryokan staff, such as making oneself presentable or communicating with the guests properly.
About bowing, it is polite and seems beautiful to bend from the waist with a straight back while putting the hands together on the thighs. Imitating what Ms. Sumi does, Raffaele giggled with embarrassment and then added, “I can’t do it, but I think I’ve come to learn the heart of hospitality behind these manners.” After this, Raffaele met a guest at the entrance and took her to the room. Raffaele, pouring a cup of Japanese tea for a guest, seems like a real okami-san, doesn’t she?
Enjoy an experience
that really captures
the flavor of Japan.
Meals are another charming aspect of staying in a ryokan. Normally breakfast are included in the accommodation rate. In the morning, a simple Japanese style breakfast basically consisting of rice and miso soup is served in the dining room (you can request Western-style breakfast if you choose). The check-out time at a ryokan is usually about 10:00 a.m., so most guests leave directly after their breakfast. A quick bath before or after breakfast can be a pleasure at Sumiyoshiya.
When the guests leave the ryokan, okami-san or another staff member will usually see them off at the entrance. Today, Raffaele sent off a foreign guest. The number of foreign visitors to Kanazawa has increased substantially in recent years. Yet, only a few ryokan in Kanazawa (including Sumiyoshiya) are adapting to suit the needs of foreign visitors.
“I was very happy to play the part of okami-san. Actually, I’d like to be engaged in service business in the future, spreading Japanese-style hospitality to my country”, Raffaele said afterwards.