The traditional Japanese ryokan, or inn, is usually portrayed as a place of minimalist charm and old school tranquility. An ideal location to escape the stress of the modern world and luxuriate in beautiful surroundings, hot baths and elaborate meals.
Now, no matter how romanticised some aspects of Japanese culture can be, there’s a lot of truth in that image, and they genuinely are lovely places to stay. Just as common and far less expensive, however, is the similarly timeless but much less exclusive variety of ryokan frequented by the likes of travelling salesman and construction workers. Cheap and cheerful lodgings that are there to serve a practical purpose rather than pander. And just like when it comes to bars, it’s the grubby, back to basics variety of inn that I purposely seek out, as at the end of the day, they are simply more interesting. So the rougher looking the better, and the worse the reviews, the more tempting they become, although invariably it’s the exterior on Street View that turns out to be the deciding factor, as websites for such places are few and far between. In fact mostly it’s just a simple listing with the address, price and a telephone/fax number for bookings.
Below then is one such business. Accommodation that may well have ample reading material, a genuinely varied array of stuffed animals, and clutter one can do little more than marvel at, yet it’s still unlikely to get much coverage in any of the ‘best places to stay in Japan’ articles.