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Learn the Japanese ‘Art of Welcoming’ and the Ways of the Ryokan

Learn the Japanese ‘Art of Welcoming’ and the Ways of the Ryokan


Japanese people are known across the globe for their omotenashi. In its simplest form, omotenashi means Japanese hospitality. However, it goes much further than that. Omotenashi is an art form, something derived from the art of tea ceremony, known as sado. It is the way Japanese people strive look after their guests or customers and anticipate their every need. Each of the 32 ryokan members of the Ryokan Collection have mastered this art from, ensuring guests will experience a stay like no other.

The Ryokan Collection offer the perfect balance of luxury and deeply personal experiences. Most ryokans are found outside the cities, among nature, where guests can experience the rich culture and practices of Japan that have been nurtured for centuries. Even in these cultural experiences, the art of omotenashi can be felt.

Image courtesy of Hakone Ginyu

Sado – preparing and serving Japanese green tea

Sado is a choreographed ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea (matcha). The ceremony is one of beauty and pride for Japanese people. From the placement of a tea utensil to the process of preparing a bowl of tea from the heart, every move in sado considers the guest. It comes as no surprise, from this level of dedication to something as simple as making a cup of tea, omotenashi was born. Travellers and guests can experience this fine art form at many of the Ryokan Collection accommodations.

Ikebana – The Japanese art of flower arranging

Ikebana is another art from in which Japanese people take great pride. It’s the Japanese art of flower arranging. For Japanese people, designing the placement of blossoms, branches, leaves and stems is important to bring out the inner qualities of the flowers and elicit an emotional connection. There are many elements that need to be considered with Ikebana – symbolic meaning, season, colour, line and form. Guests staying at certain Ryokan Collection accommodations have a unique opportunity to learn this artform from Ikebana masters.

Image courtesy of Beniya

Onsen – The Japanese hot spring

Another art form sharing the same dedication as omotenashi, is the art of the onsen (hot springs). Japanese onsen are incredibly popular among travellers and locals. It is not only about healing waters but about the practice. Japanese people show precision in everything they do, from omotenshi to the ritual of the onsen. When bathing at an onsen, there are practices in place to ensure each guest has the best experience. First guests must remove all clothing, followed by a shower. When clean, guests are encouraged to ease into the onsen to allow for a smooth transition into the waters. This is a place of serenity and silence, somewhere guests can use all five senses and refocus. After leaving the onsen, guests must clean up after themselves to ensure the space is ready for the next guests. This element is very much a part of Japanese manners.

Image courtesy of Hakone Ginyu

Slippers or wooden clogs. These should be worn throughout the Ryokan

Just as guests are met with an unparalleled level of hospitality, dedication and respect within the art of Japanese welcoming, there should be a reciprocal regard from guests. This is particularly important when entering a ryokan. Guests are expected to remove their shoes and replace them with slippers or wooden clogs. These should be worn throughout the ryokan, unless you are in your room. When entering your room, guests can only walk on the tatami (reed matting) with socks or bare feet.

From welcoming guests to flower arrangements, the art of omotenashi can be found throughout Japanese culture. And it’s these passionately traditional art forms that make each ryokan within the Ryokan Collection both rare and truly spectacular. The Ryokan Collection began in 2004 with 11 traditional ryokans. Since then it has expanded to include 32 ryokans, each offering outstanding omotenashi in every facet of the guests stay.

Image courtesy of Shinsen

For more personalised information tips and advice, or to book this incredible holiday contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager here.

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