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Japanese-style Guest Rooms

One of the great pleasures of staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) is enjoying your guest room. Japanese-style guest rooms are known world wide for their painstaking attention to simple details.

Traditional Room, Nishimuraya Honkan
Traditional Room, Nishimuraya Honkan

Tatami-mat flooring, traditional futon bedding (no frame) and sliding doors (known as “shoji” or “fusuma”) are quintessential features. Perhaps less known is the “tokonoma” or deocrative alcove that forms the center of the room. Note that items such as luggage should not be placed on the tokonoma, nor should it be stepped or laid upon.

Some ryokan are designed so that each and every room (even if it is the same category or type) enjoys a unique layout, features and view. At Nishimuraya Honkan, every room is known by it’s own name rather than just a room number.

Standard sized rooms will usually be from 8 to 10 or more tatami mats – the size of 1 tatami mat varies by region and ryokan but should on average be less than 2 sqm (10.7 sqft).

The tatami-room itself is actually just one part of the Japanese-style guest room. Attached to the tatami-room is a “hiroen” or terrace room which provides a small sitting area and window(s) to view the outside.

Even the bathrooms are different. The restroom (toilet) and bathroom (sink & bathtub and/or shower) are often separate attached rooms. Guests usually wear indoor slippers when walking through the hallways of the ryokan and take them off when entering their guest room. The restroom will have its own pair of slippers (remember to take off when you are done!).

Perhaps what most visitors of a ryokan look forward to is the kaiseki dinner served in the guest room. In modern Japan, it has become harder and harder to find inns serving dinners individually in the guest room. Both Nishimuraya Honkan & Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei are proud to maintain the tradition on in-room service & dining.

One of the most popular type of Japanese-style guest rooms is known as a “rotenburo” (open-air bath) room. To ensure guest comfort & privacy, these outdoor baths will usually be covered by a roof and retain an outdoor view while still being obscured from view by the outside.

Japanese-Style Superior Room with Open-Air Bath, Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei
Japanese-Style Superior Room with Open-Air Bath, Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei

If you’re looking for more space or luxury, the wider “futama” (literally “two rooms”) or “tokubetsu” (special or suite room type) room type may be a good choice. These types may also have variations which include an open-air bath.

Some ryokan have modern-traditional hybrid room type. Often the hybrid room will consist of a Western-style guest room (with Western-style bed) and an attached Japanese-style tatami-mat room. More recently, hybrid rooms have taken a more fusion design, combining elements such as tatami-mat with Western-style tables & chairs or futon mounted on bed frames.

Whatever your desire or budget though, it can often be helpful to inquire directly with the ryokan if you have any questions about a particular room you are considering booking. Let them know which features or aspects are most important for you. Especially if it is your first time staying at a ryokan you may find special adjustments could help make the stay more comfortable – such as layering for your futon or normal sized chairs & table for dining.

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