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  • Around the Ryokan
  • Table Manners
  • Bathing Etiquette

Ryokan tend to be a little bit different to hotels, and there can be a lot more contact between guests and staff than some first-time visitors are used to. As they say “when in Rome, do as the Romans”. Here, you can learn all about the dos and don’ts when staying in a traditional ryokan or the proper etiquette for taking a bath in an onsen. There are some important cultural differences in Japan, so be sure to read this beforehand, as you won’t be able to take it in the bath with you!

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Get to know people
 

Give it your best shot to try some simple greetings like ‘konnichiwa’ etc. Who knows, they might even speak English!

Turn the volume down a little

Walls can be thin, and sound travels in old wooden houses. People came here to relax, so try to keep the noise down at all times.

Tell the ryokan about your allergies

Tell the ryokan about your allergies
But, also, make sure that you let them know well in advance so that they can make the necessary preparations. A lot of inns are far from supermarkets!

Wear a Yukata with Pride

A lot of people wander the halls in yukata, and you should too! But first, learn how to put one on: right lapel tightly over the left, with the obi tied slightly to your left-hand side.

Don’t damage floors with bags

Be careful with heavy suitcases, don’t wheel them over the tatami or dump heavy bags on the floor - it may damage the surfaces. There is usually a raised hardwood section for putting bags neatly on.

Don’t tread on the base of the doorframe

This is considered to be extremely rude to the owner of a household. Make sure to step carefully over the doorframe at the entranceway. You don’t want to offend anyone!

Don’t ignore signposts
 

Even if you can’t read Japanese, look at the pictures. If there’s a red cross, or skull and crossbones, you can assume that you shouldn’t go that way!

Don’t forget you’re on holiday!

You may be nervous about all these new experiences, but don’t forget to relax and have a good time. If you have any problems or questions, ask someone - they’ll always help!
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For full and half board plans (including meals), the meal serving times are limited. Especially for dinner, if you are particularly late to check in, dinner may no longer be available (and in such cases refunds are typically not issued as food has gone to waste). Please be sure to confirm the check-in and dining times, and don't miss out on the fantastic food! Please refrain from bringing outside food or drink into the ryokan's dining hall or restaurant or taking food or dishes from the restaurant outside.

Ryokan tend to be a little bit different to hotels, and there can be a lot more contact between guests and staff than some first-time visitors are used to. As they say “when in Rome, do as the Romans”. Here, you can learn all about the dos and don’ts when staying in a traditional ryokan or the proper etiquette for taking a bath in an onsen. There are some important cultural differences in Japan, so be sure to read this beforehand, as you won’t be able to take it in the bath with you!

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Wash your body

Before getting into the main bath, sit at a stool and use the shower attachment to wash your body thoroughly.

‘Kakeyu’

If there is a bucket and people are splashing themselves with water from it before getting in the bath, follow suit!

Relax...

Get into the bath slowly, and be careful of steps inside the tub. Take it easy, don’t move around quickly or splash. Enjoy...

Dry yourself

Dry yourself before going back into the changing area. You don’t want to be dripping water everywhere when you go back in!

Pro Tips

  • Before leaving your room to go to the bath, change into your yukata. The less you take down to the bath, the better! Metallic jewellry can turn black, so take that off too.
  • Most onsen provide shampoo, conditioner and body soap in the wash area, so there’s no need to take down your own.
  • Check the bath times beforehand, and be careful of male and female baths swapping: Sometimes they change over after cleaning periods to allow guests to try both.
  • Put your yukata and bath towel in the basket in the changing area. You should only take the small towel into the bathing area.
  • Put back, clean or tidy away anything you’ve used. You should always leave things in a good condition for the next person.
  • Onsen Veteran Tip: Turn the basket in the changing area upside down when leaving to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
  • Things to be careful of when...
    ...Mixed Bathing

    No Photos

    This is not the time for snaps!

    No Flashing

    It’s a crime you know!

    Keep Your Distance

    Respect personal space

    No Staring

    It’ll make people uncomfortable

    No Eating or Drinking

    No matter how hungry you get!

    Wear Loose Clothing

    Wear a yukata down to the bath

     

    Note

  • Women are sometimes allowed to wrap a towel around themselves and enter the water with it still on at some mixed baths. You should always check with the staff at the onsen you are staying at beforehand. Keep your eyes peeled for signs, or copy what other people are doing to be on the safe side.
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