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.
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.
Including ryokan, there are unique rules and manners in Japanese houses and buildings. Here, I am going to introduce them in the time series from check-in to check-out.
If you will stay at ryokan with dinner, arrive by around 18:00 at the latest. This is because a lot of staff, such as Itamae (chef) and Nakai (waitress), are waiting for you looking forward to be able to serve the cuisine at its best. If you will be late, please contact ryokan in advance.
Now, you arrived at the objective ryokan. Here you might be confused first whether you take off the shoes. In traditional Japanese ryokan and Japanese house, we take off shoes at the door and become bare feet or wear footwear for inside. However, many recent ryokan take style to enter wearing shoes. In addition, it might also be hard to tell whether you take off shoes in some cases. (Even Japanese sometimes be confused.) In such a case, do not hesitate. Ask the ryokan staff on the spot.
In the case of long-term travel, your luggage will become absolutely large. Thus most people may use bags with casters. Yet, be careful here. As the floor of Japanese architecture is very delicate, If you carry your bags in your hands without rolling casters(Of course our staff will take care of your large baggage). It will make you be welcomed as a guest with one rank up manners. Also, you carry your luggage by yourself to the room as far as it is not so large. While carrying, when they open doors or arrange your footwear, say “Arigatougozaimasu.” This one concern will let you achieve communication.
Japanese room’s floor is covered with Tatami. Tatami is a traditional flooring used in Japan and is a rectangular mat of about 1.8mx 0.9m with a core made of compressed rice straws and Tatami-omote, made of Igusa, a kind of grass, wrapping around the core. This Tatami are laid over rooms at most ryokan.