302 Japanese Inns Take You Back in Time
302 传统日式客栈 重温昔日生活
Fukuzumiro Ryokan in Hakone-machi offers 19 traditional rooms in a three-story wood building.
Heading back to the room for dinner and a hot soak may sound like the act of a defeated tourist, but in a traditional Japanese inn -- or ryokan -- those activities can be as intriguing as anything along the sightseeing trail.
"People going looking for a sort of nostalgic, old-fashioned, traditional view of Japanese life will find it most easily in a ryokan," said Peter Grilli, president of Japan Society of Boston, Massachusetts.
Many ryokan sprang up in the 17th century to accommodate feudal lords traveling along the Tokaido highway to Edo (now Tokyo). Today tourists looking for a taste of the country's historic lifestyle find varying levels of understated elegance in ryokan throughout the country.
A typical stay starts with a greeting from the inn's staff and a change from street shoes into slippers. An attendant escorts guests to their rooms, where slippers are removed before walking on the rice straw flooring, called tatami.
Shuffling along behind a kimono-clad attendant on the creaky wood floors of Fukuzumiro ryokan's hallways is like stepping back in time. The inn was established in 1890 by a former samurai.
Tim Paterson, 33, a banker living in Tokyo, has stayed at several ryokan. The New Zealand native leaves feeling relaxed and culturally enriched.
"I think it's quite good mixing culture with history and not just going to see it, but living in it, staying in it," he said after a recent stay at Fukuzumiro.
Sliding glass doors line the inn's rustic hallways, bringing in the sound of trickling water and the serenity of the stone and tree-filled courtyards outside.