My first stay in a real Ryokan (Japanese inn)

It was raining when we arrived in Asakusa. I wanted to get out of the rain but at the same time I wanted to start exploring Japan and didn’t want to waste any time.

 Me and my wife were making our way through Nakamise street when she told me we’re going to check-in first at the Ryokan she booked before going out for some food. It was perfect I thought. Spending my first night in Japan in a real life Ryokan. Immediately , images of me in a Yukata (summer kimono) relaxing in a tatami room beside my futon, having tea , filled my sleepy head. I was concerned though about the shared bathrooms.

Ryokan is what they call a traditional Japanese inn . Usually the rooms are covered in tatami, no beds but futons and shared bathrooms.

We were in the heart of Asakusa so I knew the Ryokans would be expensive but I wasn’t worried. If anyone can find an affordable Ryokan just steps away from Sensoji Temple it would me by wife.

The Ryokan is called Ichifuji . Upon entering  you can see this was an old traditional house converted by the owner into a Ryokan. The proprietor welcomed us as if we were visiting relatives. We were shown our room and given instructions about the common areas and that we can only stay out until 12AM.

In the hallway before entering our room on the left side was a sink to be used by all guests and on the right side was the common toilet. The bathing room would be downstairs and  we were only allowed to use it up to a certain time .

The owner’s obsession with rules became evident when we entered our room . The walls were peppered with small signs made of small cardboard with black marker writings in Japanese. Some were written directly on the walls like our room number. Another outside over the sink said “This water is safe for drinking”. I didn’t really mind them. Maybe because I could not read Japanese but my wife thought it was funny. The owner was even nice enough to notice we only had one small umbrella so he lent me his before we stepped out for dinner.

The door has instructions written on it.

After filling our tummies with ramen and yakitori we went back to the Ryokan semi-soaked and decided to take a quick warm bath. The tub was filled with warm water already and there was a sign that said “Don’t drain the water”. This sent alarm bells in my head. Am I really going to bathe in waters someone else has used ? I’m not sure if it was the sleepiness or being somewhat soaked in rain but I didn’t really hesitate to get in there.

The room and the futon were both perfectly warm when I was woken up by the tolling bells from Sensoji Temple. It was time to start my 2nd day in Japan . Off to Tsukiji Fish Market!

-Roel

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