Japan is notorious for its cultural ideals of perfection, attention to detail, and optimization of each facet of life. When it comes to hotels, Japan’s unique Ryokan style lodging is a magical fusion of everything you could possibly want in an accommodation, and the secret is in the details.
What is a Ryokan?
Ryokan (旅館) is a type of traditional lodging dating back to as early as the eighth century. Originally built along famous roadways for travelers to stay, nowadays ryokan are found in nearly every corner of Japan. Though you can find some in cities, the most cherished ryokan experiences are those that hide deep in the heart of Japan’s countryside. Nestled in cozy valleys, perched atop epic mountainsides, and clustered around famous hot spring towns, these luxurious inns are the perfect way to rest and rejuvenate while traveling Japan by bike.
Bike Tour Japan’s travel experts have scouted Japan’s hidden ryokans, and are bringing these experiences to our guests. Read below to find out why we think the traditional ryokan experience is so special!
Backroads Hotel of the Week! We love unique hotels full of character, especially when they’re luxurious and charming at the same time. Le Germain Charlevoix, our home for two nights on our Quebec Multi-Adventure Tour, is exactly that kind of hotel. Built upon a historic farm, it was designed to embrace the pastoral spirit of the surrounding farmland that makes this corner of Canada such a beautiful escape from the rush of city life. After a day spent biking scenic coastal roads, whale watching or hiking through lush forests above the mighty St. Lawrence River, coming home to the Le Germain Charlevoix is like stepping back into a hip retrofitted farmhouse owned by your best friends. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind place and a highlight of our week spent adventuring in Quebec.
1 | The Food: fresh, local & prepared just for you
When you travel with BTJ, you are invited not only on a cycling journey, but also a culinary one. Each region of Japan is home to a rich heritage of food, and our ryokans are carefully selected to showcase these regional flavors each day of our trip!
We scout out premium ryokans with chefs who are local legends and experts at blending ingredients into a masterpiece meal. We’ll savor the fresh seafood, enjoy vegetables grown in the valleys we ride through, and taste sake made from the rice and water from the mountains we’ve climbed.
Your meals at the ryokan are a pure expression of the very places we ride through each day.
2 | The Rooms: zen & inviting, everything you need & nothing that you don’t
When you take your shoes off and set foot into your room, you’re stepping into a rich tradition of Japanese architecture and interior design. The first thing your feet will feel is the soft touch of natural tatami straw boards line the floor. Every aspect of the room has purpose, from the sliding doors that hold your futon bedding, to the poem written in calligraphy and plants, symbolizing the current season. Shoji paper sliding doors allow the room to shift sizes, and large windows are placed with care to allow fresh air to flow in the room. Finally, the seats and table will be out during the day; when you return from dinner, you’ll find them exchanged for your futons nicely made and ready for a good nights rest!
3 | The Onsen Hot Springs: rejuvenating natural mineral water
Though not traditionally found in every ryokan, our team at Bike Tour Japan knows that the onsen experience is one of the most wonderful moments on tour, and should be incorporated whenever possible. That’s why we make sure that every one of our ryokans has an unforgettable and unique onsen experience.
As we ride through the Japanese countryside, each region we roll through is home to different mineral contents, each with their own healing properties. From the rich orange-red iron of Mt Akagi and Mt Haruna, to the silky magnesium waters of Mt Norikura and Mt Nantai, experience the difference between these baths, and understand why the onsen experience is an absolutely essential part of Japanese culture.
Our ryokans will have rotenburo as well, which are are the outdoor brother of the onsen. They are the most magical and natural outdoor hot tub you will ever soak in. Crafted from wood and stone, and surrounded by stunning views, beautiful nature, bonsai gardens, and water features, the rotenburo is the best post-ride relaxation ritual you will ever experience.
4 | The Community: taking in the experience with family and friends!
Ok, we said 3, but this is one of the main reasons we love coming back for more! Trying out new things is not just interesting, it’s also incredibly fun, especially when shared. At the end of the day, it’s creating these memorable experiences with amazing friends and guests that keep us thinking about our next opportunity to return.
Want to go bespoke or self-guided? Craft your own private adventure with us! Click Here.