Kyoto Ryokan Etiquette – What To Do and What Not?

Kyoto RyokanKyoto ryokan etiquette is important if you have planned to stay at one of these inns, because Japanese traditions and customs play a large role with this type of lodging. These inns are not one of the typical Kyoto hotels, but instead allow visitors to experience the true customs and traditions of a household in Japan. Many of these establishments are small and family owned, although there are larger ones as well. Many Japan tours offer a stay in a ryokan, and it is important to understand the customs and expectations involved. As soon as you have arrived at the Kyoto ryokan make sure to remove your shoes before going across the entrance, and there are slippers provided for your use at this location. Arrive before 6 p.m. so you do not miss out on dinner, which is usually included in the price, but do not arrive before later in the afternoon. It is possible to check in early and leave any luggage, and a great way to pass the time until late afternoon is to visit Nijo Castle.

Upon arrival you will be shown to your room, and you should remove your slippers before entering. Only socks or bare feet should be used on the straw mats inside your room. The custom in a Kyoto ryokan, or in any other area of Japan as well, is to bathe before dinner. The bathing pool is not actually intended for getting clean, this is done in a separate area before you enter the public bath. Some Arashiyama Kyoto offer private baths while others have a larger public bath. First you use the cleaning materials to wash, and make sure you are completely rinsed off and soap free. This is important because the public bath is used by a number of people, and the water must stay clean and soap free. You will be given a robe to wear while staying at the Kyoto ryokan, and this can be worn together with slippers or wooden clog sandals for short walks outside the ryokan as well. Dinner may be served in the dining room or in your room, and afterwards a maid will clean your room and prepare the futon for sleeping. A Kyoto ryokan offers a unique experience that is very enjoyable, and understanding the customs can prevent any misunderstandings.