Etiquette for staying in a ryokan
Etiquette for staying in a ryokan
If you are staying in Japan then you may be thinking of experiencing staying in a Ryokan. After all, Ryokan is a beautiful Japanese inn and there is nothing more Japanese than this. It really is a great experience since everything here is very traditional. But you may also be worried because you may not know the etiquette that applies when staying in a Ryokan because you don’t want to offend any Japanese people.
Although Japanese people are kind and understanding when it comes to foreigners not knowing Japanese etiquette it is still frowned upon and seen as disrespectful when people do not follow the Japanese etiquette. So just to make sure that you do not offend anyone you may want to know some of these tips.
(picture source: https://www.jalan.net/news/article/991/)
So you may know this by now but I will mention it for those who are not aware of this rule. Shoes must be removed at the entrance of the ryokan. Japanese people are very strict with this rule. No dirty shoes allowed! A lot of dressing rooms in Japan will also ask you to remove your shoes when entering the dressing room. So the same goes for a ryokan. Most ryokans will ask you to remove your shoes at the entrance and then you will be given slippers to wear. So when you are anywhere in the ryokan you will need to wear slippers. Do not go walking around bare foot or even with socks. The only place you are to remove your slippers are in your room and before entering a tatami room.
(picture source: http://www.travel.co.jp/stay/hotel/849553/review/5812/)
When you stay in a ryokan, most of them will offer free tea in your room. You will find tea packets with chawan teacups and then a little teapot. There may even be some Japanese snacks that they leave with the tea. This will usually be placed on top of a small table where there are cushion seats called zabuton and zaisu which are seats with no legs. You may have as much tea as you please.
Ryokans are a place where you are to relax after a long day of sightseeing so they will not like people running around and they will not want people to be shouting either. So make sure that you are well mannered and if you have children make sure that they are also not shouting or running in the corridors. It can be hard to control little kids but just try your best.
(picture source: http://読めばなるほど.com/archives/3370.html)
When you enter your room you will see there there is just a tatami floor with a small table and the zaisu or just zabuton. There will usually be no beds a ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn so there will be futons provided instead of a bed. However, when you first enter your room you will usually not see the futon as well so you may be wondering where it is. Well it is usually inside of the closet area where it is stored when you are not sleeping. Some ryokan will ask you what time you will be heading to bed and then they will come to your room to help you set it up but some other ryokans will leave it up to you.
(picture source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokonoma)
When you enter your room you will see that there is a tokonoma. This is an area that almost every room in a ryokan will have and it is an area that is purely for decorative purposes. So you will see some form of a scroll or you may see some Japanese artwork or there may be a bonsai tree. Whatever it is make sure to not store your luggage in this area as it is seen as being very disrespectful.
(picture source: http://www.kyotoryokan.com/ryokan/spend.html)
Almost all ryokans and even hotels in Japan will offer a yukata which you wear in the hotel and when you dine and also to sleep in. A lot of people bring their own pajamas and then wear the yukata to go eat dinner or to roam the ryokan. But these are for you to borrow not to take home so make sure to leave them in the hotel rooms. It is probably common sense that you don’t take home things that came with the hotel but you will be surprised by how many people actually bring them home.
Also, another thing you want to watch out for is how you wear your yukata. Make sure to have it tightly wrapped. You don’t want it too loose on your body and showing a lot of flesh. I know it can look kind of confusing and you may not know how to wear a yukata properly so I’ll go through the steps quickly. First put your arm through the sleeves. Then bring the right side over your body first followed by the left side. Then wrap the sash around the body and tie it at the front of your body. Men wrap it around at their hips and women wrap it around their waist.
These are the most basic rules to know when visiting a ryokan. There are a lot of other rules but for the most part if you follow these rules you will not offend anyone.
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