The Best Country Retreats

The Best Country Retreats

For a complete appreciation of Japan, a journey through its stunning countryside is a must. Getting off the beaten track need not involve abandoning luxury, with countless indulgent accommodation options found on every island. The most famous of these are undoubtedly Japan’s famed ryokan.

Ryokan are traditional Japanese inns with a 1,300-year history and an impeccable reputation for hospitality and comfort. Imagine staying in a top quality ryokan, enjoying a relaxing soak in a private hot spring with a view of the nearby mountains or town, followed by a delectable Japanese meal brought to your room.

Unlike standard hotels, a ryokan guides you towards comfort and luxury through their Japanese-style room (washitsu). You’ll enjoy the sensation of the straw tatami mat on your skin when you walk barefoot, the refreshing feel of lying down and fully stretching out your arms and legs, and the fragrance of straw that gently wafts up from the straw tatami mats.

Entering a ryokan, you’ll feel like you’ve slipped off your shoes to step back in time. The attention to detail paid to you by the okami (traditional host) and her staff rivals that of any 6-star hotel butler, and each ryokan is styled in the classic, sparse Japanese style that focuses on clean lines, simplicity and beauty to achieve a sense of peace and comfort.

After thoroughly enjoying all of these elements of the bathing, food, and refinement at a ryokan, you will be warmly sent on your way with the words, “Please come back again,” when check out time finally comes. And the staff at the inn will keep in mind “the spirit of hospitality” right up to the very end, even as you fade away from their view.