My First Stay at a Ryokan: Food and Sleep

attendant at a ryokan

attendant at a ryokan in kyoto

Yesterday, we experienced what is the closest thing that a traveler can get for imaging life in the classic Japanese tatami house. We stayed at a ryokan named Gion Fukuzumi. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn dating from the Edo period.

sleeping on a futon spread on the tatami floor at a ryokan

All the rooms have tatami-matted floor and Shoji sliding doors. Like the Japanese houses of the Edo period, furniture is almost inexistent. The fact that the room has only the bare essential furniture makes the room feels bigger. By moving a few items away, the main room is transformed from a dining room to a bedroom. You sleep on futon spread on the tatami floor. It is surprisedly comfortable.

The Food

Service is personalized at a ryokan. Upon arrival, you will be assigned an attendant who will bring you to your room, welcome you with a tea, serve your dinner and breakfast the next morning. Dinner and breakfast are included in the price of the room; this is why the price is always per person.

japanese multi-course dinner eaten inside the guest room at a ryokan

We stayed at the Gion Fukuzumi. They served us a Kyoto-style kaiseki (multi-course Japanese meal) in our guest room. That was awesome! After dinner, it was great to sit on the porch and to simply look at what was happening in the city.

food at the ryokan

We opted for a Japanese breakfast, which was also elaborate. The breakfast was served in the communal dining area.

japanese breakfast at the ryokan in communal dining room

+ Gion Fukuzumi in Kyoto

  • Marie @ M2JL STUDIO
    April 21, 2010 at 11:45

    What was for breakfast? The food looks awesome 🙂

    • At Home with Kim Vallee
      April 21, 2010 at 12:01

      Marie: We had miso soup, tofu, vegetables, some fish, a salad, rice with nori and soya sauce and a few other things that I cannot name. All meals share some elements in Japan.

  • Jenn Lee
    April 21, 2010 at 11:54

    I agree, the food looks delicious!!
    Reminds me of Korea – my grandmother still lives in a house like that and it’s one of the best stays I’ve ever had in Asia.

  • Jaime
    April 21, 2010 at 11:58

    Oh I wish I had stayed at a Ryokan. Looks awesome. Hope you are having a great time Kim!

  • ChickAdvisor
    April 21, 2010 at 13:49

    Kim, this looks like so much fun! Am very jealous. The food looks really good too. What a cool experience!

  • alice
    May 9, 2010 at 11:15

    love it! i’m planning a trip to kyoto w/ my husband and 3 yr old daughter. planning to stay at hotel mume and Ryokan Montonago. can’t wait! did you visit Nishiki market?

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    May 9, 2010 at 15:34

    Alice: you will love Kyoto. It is a wonderful city. Make sure to plan a day trip to Nara (1 hour by train).
    The Nishiki market is worth a visit, Go there on an empty stomach as they are plenty of food that you will want to try. We ate lunch at a udon noodle shop on the shopping street. I also bought two Aritsugu knifes with my name on the blade. See