Category Archives: Ryokan

Yukata: the Traditional way of Relaxing at a Japanese Ryokan

Yukata at Onsen Ryokan

When I think about staying at a Japanese Ryokan, the first thing that comes to mind is relaxing in a yukata. A yukata is a type of light cotton kimono that all onsen ryokan have available to guests. Yukata are popular even among our international guests, and they allow you to relax during your stay at a ryokan while experiencing Japanese culture on a deeper level.

We’ve put together some essential information about yukata and how to wear them here.

First, the yukata is just one type of traditional kimono in Japan. This means there are many other kinds in Japan. For example, women can wear one of two kinds of kimono at formal occasions: tomesode for married women or furisode for unmarried women. There are also plain black kimono for mourning, which traditionally have a family crest embossed on them. There are even special kimono just for guests.

Furisode - Kimono
Furisode

For men’s formalwear we have the nagagi robes, haori jacket, and hakama trousers which form the base of the outfit. On these robes there may be as many as 5 family crests depending on the person’s rank. There are also black habutae kimono made from silk. And for men’s everyday wear, there are the iromuji, samue, and jibei robes.

kimono at formal occasions
kimono at formal occasions

Finally, there is the robe that both men and women can wear casually: the yukata.

They say that originally yukata were only meant to be worn when going to the bath and when coming out. They are generally made from cotton, but there are also yukata made from a blend of hemp and polyester.

These days in Japan, many people wear yukata as fashionable summer wear. From fireworks displays and summer festivals to traditional obon dances and holidays during the summer, people young and old enjoy wearing yukata during the summer.

And yet another place to wear yukata is at an onsen ryokan, including our own Kashiwaya Ryokan in Gunma Prefecture.

As I mentioned at the beginning, most onsen ryokan have yukata prepared for guests to use as sleepwear and for relaxing around the inn. You can even wear the ryokan yukata while walking around town. That means these robes are used all year round, not just in summer! When it comes to ryokan, the yukata is a type of resort wear for guests to enjoy and relax in.

walking with Yukata
walking with Yukata
Exploring the Onsen town with Yukata
Exploring the Onsen town with Yukata

Originally many onsen ryokan just had simple indigo-dyed yukata available. These days, however, many ryokan – including Kashiwaya, of course – have a variety of designs and colors. So guests can now enjoy not only wearing, but also choosing a yukata that perfectly suits them!

Yukata are very popular among our international guests, and many of them have been kind enough to post photos of themselves wearing yukata to their social media profiles.

Kashiwaya Instagram
Kashiwaya Instagram

Since they are difficult to find abroad, I’d like to give a brief introduction of how to put a yukata on. As it’s such a rare opportunity, you’ll want to wear your yukata correctly and really immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

But don’t worry! Yukata are the most casual form of kimono, which means they are very easy to put on.

The most important thing to remember is that both women and men wear yukata in the “right-front” (migi-mae) style. This simply means that, for someone looking at you, the right-hand collar should be in front of the left-hand one.

Wearing your yukata the opposite way is a real faux pas. This is because the “left-front” style is only used in funeral garb, so please be careful!

How to wear the Yukata
How to wear the Yukata

The basic steps to putting your yukata on are:

  • Put both arms through the sleeves.
  • Fold your right-hand sleeve over your front first, followed by the left-hand sleeve. This will ensure you are wearing your yukata in the proper, right-front style.
  • Tie your obi sash to keep your yukata in place. Men should wear their sash at the hip, and women at the waist. This is considered an attractive way for women to wear their obi.
  • If it’s cold, put on the small overcoats called hanten or chabaori, which should be available at your ryokan.

As I said before, yukata lent to guests at ryokan are not just for sleeping, but for relaxing during your stay. Feel free to take a stroll around town in your yukata, and if you do, don’t forget to share all your cute photos on Instagram or other social media!

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Onsen Ryokan with Beds and Western Style Meals

western style single bed

Anyone who speaks English probably knows the proverb, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” In Japanese we also have a very similar saying: 郷に入れば郷に従え(go ni ireba go ni shitagae). It means that if you enter a foreign country or region, it is wise to follow the customs and ways there.
I believe that travelling is about not only seeing new sights, but also learning more about another country and culture.
However, during a long journey you will naturally miss the customs of your home country. We Japanese sometimes visit Japanese restaurants abroad. I think this is because many of us become homesick while travelling. Of course, I also believe it is a benefit for international travellers to step out of their comfort zone and learn about other cultures. That’s why I highly recommend staying at a Japanese ryokan.

Japanese style room and Washoku
Japanese style room and Washoku

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Accomodating Onsen Ryokan for Solo Travelers in Japan

solo travel to Japan

The number of international visitors to Japan has been increasing at an incredible rate. According to the Japan Tourism Agency, there were 8.3 million international visitors in 2007, while there were 29 million in 2017. That means in just 10 years the number of international visitors has more than tripled. These visitors come in many forms: some in groups, some on business or with family, and, of course, many travel alone.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, 11.8% of tourists come alone. Travelers from America are especially likely to travel on their own. While 30% of all visitors who visit Japan for sightseeing travel alone, if we include travelers on business this number increases to 52.9% among Americans.

So, where do you think these travelers are choosing to stay?

Of course, some stay in traditional Japanese accommodations such as ryokan, while others stay in standard hotels, rental houses, or Airbnb rentals. And still others choose to stay in Japan’s capsule hotels, an oddity you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Japanese style room of Ryokan
Japanese style room of Ryokan

While there are a variety of options for accommodations, all can be suited to the solo traveler. Though many guidebooks state that traditional ryokan did not originally accommodate individual travelers, this is no longer the case. In fact, many onsen ryokan now welcome guests travelling alone.

We at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan in Gunma Prefecture have had the pleasure of boarding many international guests travelling alone. Whether men or women, such travelers have indeed been increasing steadily in recent years.

Our onsen ryokan has even been featured on Japanese media because of how accommodating we are to solo travelers. Once when we were being featured on TV, there happened to be an American woman staying here by herself, and she was kind enough to speak with the TV crew.

trip to japan

TV show about solo traveler
TV show about solo traveler

There are many reasons we have been recognized as an onsen ryokan that is particularly accommodating to solo travelers. Below are just a few of those reasons:

  • Our facilities include 3 private open-air baths for individual guests to enjoy Shima Onsen’s waters in privacy.
  • Dinner is served in guests’ rooms, so everyone can enjoy dinner at their own pace.
  • We have many room types, including single or twin beds, and Japanese-style rooms with futon.

Above all else, our staff always gives a warm welcome to solo travelers staying here.

Private open-air Onsen

Example of the dinner
Example of the dinner

Travelling alone truly has its own unique charm. You can do things at your own pace without having to worry about bothering others. If you have a chance to visit Japan on your own, feel free to stay at Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan!

If you interested in Japanese style Onsen, Please click here
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A Rural Japanese Onsen Ryokan that Provides English Support!

Rural Onsen Ryokan

We at Shima Onsen and Kashiwaya Ryokan are so happy to see more and more visitors from other countries. The number just keeps growing with each year! Some visitors are looking for a quiet getaway near Tokyo, while others have been to Japan before and are looking for new experiences.

Most of our international visitors are from America, but many others come from Australia, Canada, and Singapore too. This means that we at Kashiwaya Ryokan really need to brush up on our English communication!

Currently, only 2 members of the Kashiwaya staff can speak English conversationally. Language level varies among the rest of our staff, but most are far from perfect. Despite this, we seem to have developed a reputation as a rural onsen inn that can accommodate English speakers. Just take a look at some of the glowing reviews our international visitors have written for us.

“As someone who barely speaks Japanese I was a little worried about travelling out into the countryside but my concerns were put to rest by the kind staff who were able to patiently explain things about the inn, in English.” ~Trip Advisor
“The staff is very friendly and can speak English, which is a great plus for the foreigner discount they already include!” ~Trip Advisor

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We got the 2018 Traveler’s Choice Hotel Awards

Travelers choice 2018

Thank you for your support!

We, Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan placed 9th in the Japanese Inn category of the 2018 Traveler’s Choice Hotel Awards, which is run by TripAdvisor.

This follows on our success at the end of last year, in which we placed fourth in TripAdvisor Japan’s “Picked by Travel Enthusiasts! The Most Popular Japanese Inns Among Foreigners 2017” ranking.

All our staff will continue to work together and do our utmost to ensure that guests have a wonderful experience out our inn.

Traveler’s Choice Hotel Awards 2018

Thank you.
Masuo Kashiwabara

If you interested in Japanese style Onsen, Please click here
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Ryokan that has Rooms with Private Onsen and Open-air Bath

Private open-air Onsen

Overview:

There are more ryokan that have guest rooms with private onsen and private open-air bath recently.

At those ryokan, you do not need to take onsen with other people.

So you can enjoy onsen even if you are from foreign countries, where you do not have habit to take a bath with other people.

Also, even if you have a tattoo, you can enjoy onsen without problems.

Text:

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Meals for vegetarians, vegans, and notices for people with food allergies, and halal.

Example of the dinner
Example of the dinner

The accommodation of Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan usually includes dinner and breakfast (one night stay and two meals per day).

You can enjoy your stay in a traditional Japanese Ryokan that has Japanese features such as tatami rooms, an Onsen (hot spring), and Japanese cuisine.

We are happy to have received a lot of good comments and reviews, especially about the cuisine.

For example,

The dinner in the evening is truly the best bit though… A 12 course meal with so many different things to try from Japanese cuisine…

The food was amazing, they happily accommodated my vegetarian request and the in-room dinner and breakfast made the stay feel like a real traditional Japanese experience.

Breakfast is served downstairs, but dinner is served in your own room – both are a delicious parade of more than ten different dishes!

Recently the number of guests at our Ryokan from overseas has been increasing.

In the last four months alone (January to April) this year, we have welcomed guests from more than 30 countries and regions.

So, we have also had variety of requests for special menus (especially vegetarian and vegan).

Example of the breakfast
Example of the breakfast

Therefore, Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan has created five special menus.

1.Regular menu

Regular dishes that we usually serve and many of our guests enjoy.

2. Menu with no meat

Substitute other ingredients for all meat in the regular menu.
Seafood, egg, dairy products are still used.

3. Vegetarian A menu

No meat and seafood, but a basic element of Japanese cuisine, ‘Katsuo Dashi’ (Japanese-style broth with dried bonito(fish) ) is used. Egg and dairy products are also used.

4. Vegetarian B menu

This meal does not contain meat, seafood, egg or dairy products, although ‘Katsuo Dashi'(Japanese-style broth with dried bonito) is used.
As it was mentioned above, ‘Katsuo Dashi’ is a basic element of Japanese cuisine.

5. Vegan menu

This menu does not contain meat, seafood, egg or dairy products. Special broth with edible kelp, mushrooms, and vegetables is used instead of ‘Katsuo Dashi’ (Japanese-style broth with dried bonito). There is an extra charge of 2,000yen per night per person.

– We have the package for Vegan Click to detail

About Allergy / Food Intolerance

We are afraid that we cannot accommodate fully for food allergies.
We will try to do our best. However, some ingredients may contain allergens, and allergens are handled and prepared in the same environment with all other food items, so trace amounts of these allergens may be found in all dishes.
We appreciate your understanding in this matter.

About Halal

We are sorry to say that we cannot currently prepare halal food.
It is difficult for us to divide our cookware and utensils to prepare a halal menu.
In addition, some seasonings contain a little alcohol.
Please choose one of the five menus above, if possible.
We appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Likes and dislikes

We highly recommend that you try Washoku (Japanese cuisine). It is a great opportunity to enjoy it. There may be some dishes and ingredients that you are unfamiliar with, but they are worth trying.

Please let us know any of your menu requests in advance.

We may not able to accommodate you if ordered on the same day.

If you interested in Japanese style Onsen, Please click here
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Dinner Menu for Winter is now available.

There are lots of delicious vegetables in Gunma.

Including those vegetables, lots of prefecture’s and winter ingredients are combined, such as Gunma Ueno village pork & boar, Sakekasu of Kimusume, Okkirikomi.

1.Aperitif
Japanese Sake based plum liquor

2. Kashiwaya Original dish
Konnyaku & Hanamame

3. Small bowl
Walnut Tofu with soy sauce paste

4. Grilled dish (served later)
Grilled duck and Ebiimo taro with Jyukkoku Miso and magnolia leaf

5. Center Plate
Shima Onsen grill of seasonal vegetables with Kimusume Sakekasu(Sake lees) dip

6. Boiled Dish
Yuba and shrimp steamed bun,served with garlandchrysanthemum

7. Hot pot
Okkirikomi style hot-pot with Inobuta and Gunma Vegetables

8.Small dish
Monkfish liver steamed with sake

9. Boiled rice
Rice with Maitake mushroom

10. Soup (served later)
Japanese dashi soup with Spanish mackerel Manju

11. Pickled Vegetables

12. Dessert
Tsumagoi Yogurt Mousse, Wasanbon lusk and Rose wine flavored berry Sauce

About Us, Kashiwaya Ltd. Company Overview

History of Kashiwaya

Kashiwaya Iryou

Along with Kashiwaya Café at Shima Onsen Town, Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan is run by Kashiwaya Ltd., a small company operated by a family.

The founder is Masao Kashiwabara, my (Masuo Kashiwabara) grandfather.

Masao Kashiwabara, founder
According to historical documents, it is guessed that our ancestors moved from the current Shizuoka prefecture to Sawadamura-Kanobara, about 10km south from Shima Onsen, in the Age of Civil Wars or in the beginning of Edo period (End of 16th century or bigining of 17th century).

We can never know why our ancestors moved from such far Shizuoka prefecture to this countryside village in mountains.

In addition, it seems that our clan was used to be Shugenja (tempest) called Kashiwabara Shugen Daizoin until about Meiji Ishin(19th century).

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Let’s go to countryside in Japan! To Good Old Japan Away from Hustle

Let’s go to countryside in Japan!

Kuni village

In the past few years

visiting customers from overseas to Japan are increasing due to yen depreciation and the fact that national efforts to strengthen for tourism have been made.

The number has also significantly increased in this year (2015) compared to the last year.

It might break through the milestone of 20 million people.

In fact, in major tourist destination, such as Kyoto and Tokyo, so many foreign countries are there that it may seem to that there are more foreign customers and Japanese tourists.

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