The greatest difference between a Western-style hotel and a Japanese ryokan is the fee system;
The ryokan changes a fee per person that includes a one night's stay with two meals. The two meals are the evening meal on the day of your arrival, and breakfast served the following morning. At some ryokans, the meals are served in a large dining room or a private room specially for this purpose, but at the majority of ryokans, these meals are served in the guestroom. Also note that it is unnecessary to offer a tip for any service by the room-maid, boy or any other person working in the Ryokan.
The Tatami Culture
At a Japanese ryokan, it is common for guests to take off their shoes at the entrance and to change into slippers or zori (Japanese sandals). This custom, which is also practiced in ordinary homes, stems from the tatami culture. The tatami is an indoor flooring peculiar to Japan. Rice stalks are dried into straw, which is then firmly bound with thread and covered with woven rush on the surface, to produce a rather thick mat. The tatami mat is also used as a measuring unit, and the number of mats used in a room corresponds to the floor space of the room. The suppleness and excellent moisture absorbing and releasing qualities, and acoustic absorption and sound insulation properties make the tatami mats well-suited to the Japanese climate. The tatami culture is also closely linked with the Japanese food culture which consists of rice as the staple food. When entering a tatami-matted room, you must also take off your indoor slippers.
Encounters with the Unknown
Experience the elements of Japanese culture and customs:
living in a room with Tatami (straw mat) flooring, changing into a typical Yukata (robe) after taking an Onsen hot-spring bath, sleeping on a Futon (bedding) put down directly on the Tatami floor, and etc. in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese hotel. Ryokans are accommodation facilities which are imbued with the traditional culture of Japan. As a result, it is quite understandable that foreign guests are often perplexed by many things when staying at a ryokan. Nevertheless, it is also true that various encounters with the unknown will greatly deepen the impressions and excitement of your journey. To be captivated by a totally different landscape, to enjoy experiencing something new, to try out local flavors, all for the first time ... these are surely what make any journey exciting, allowing you to become immersed in a special sense of freedom that cannot be savored in daily life. In Japan, there is the following proverb: “Go ni itte wa go ni shitagae” (literally, “When in a village, do as the villagers do”, which is equivalent to the English proverb, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”). The very act of coming into contact with the traditions, culture, climate and customs of the country you are visiting or the land through which you are traveling is in itself particularly precious.