Japan is truly a wonderful place to visit. With such an expansive history, the country has so much to offer. Due to the various cities and landmarks to see, just choosing which cities to visit is hard. Even more so, the lodging options can be a lot. There are certainly expensive, ultra modern hotels. These come with all the latest technology the Japanese have to offer. But what about traditional options? Have you considered staying in one of the best ryokans in Osaka?
But more traditional options have a certain charm to them that these modern options cannot replicate. And on top of that, they provide an experience that you cannot find in regular hotels, much less anywhere in the world. If you’re visiting Japan, staying in a ryokan is a unique opportunity to experience Japanese culture first hand. But you might be asking yourself, what even is a ryokan? Luckily for you, we will provide all the information and three of the best ryokans in Osaka. These options will place you close to a lot of activities, but also provide the Japanese experience you’re looking for.
ALL ABOUT RYOKANS
A ryokan, simply put, is a Japanese style inn. This includes classic Japanese things throughout, such as tatami mats. Other things commonly seen are Japanese baths and futon beds. They also traditionally serve you meals from the Japanese cuisine. These types of lodgings have been around for a very long time. And by very long, we’re talking centuries here! They were particularly useful for travelers, such as traders and samurai. As they had long journeys, ryokans provided a nice place to relax and refuel. They were commonly found between Edo and Kyoto. Edo is what is now Tokyo, and Kyoto had the Imperial Palace. Therefore, this was a popular trade route that had many of these previously mentioned travelers.
With ryokans, some provide yukatas and most have a no-shoes rule as well. Yukatas are casual, cotton kimonos. A side note for tourists, is to be careful if you have tattoos. Some ryokans may not accept you because of this, especially with public baths. Each place is different, so verify before you go to ensure there are no problems. The last thing you want is to not be able to stay in your wonderful ryokan. Now that you know some basics, let’s dive into the best ryokans in Osaka!
Yamatoya Honten is special for its location. Because it is in the Minami neighborhood, this means you’ll have access to some of Osaka’s premier tourist spots. For example, Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, and Den-Den Town are all in Minami. Shinsaibashi has some great shopping and Den-Den Town is basically like Osaka’s version of Akihabara. But it has its own unique qualities as well.
Yamatoya Honten specifically is right by Dotonbori. Dotonbori is home to the famous bright lights and endless restaurants you might see when you look up pictures of Osaka. Therefore, you’ll have no shortage of activities in the area while staying here. This particular ryokan has a few different options for your stay. All of these can significantly alter the cost, depending on what you pick.
ROOM STYLES AND DISCOUNTS
For example, there is a Japanese style room with a view, one without, and one without a private bathroom. Japanese style without a bathroom is the cheapest option. Right now, it is averaging about 4500 yen/night with no meals included. Again, at the current time of publication, Covid-19 is still affecting pricing. So make sure to double check as these things will fluctuate and will likely increase as more things open up. You can also choose to have no meals included, if you wish. This will allow you to explore some of Dotonbori’s restaurants a bit more. If you do wish to include meals, they have Western and Japanese breakfasts. For other meals (dinner), it is Japanese style. There is even a Kobe beef option!
They also have an early bird discount. If you book 40 days in advance, you’ll get 10 percent off. Additional plans include the super saver plan, which applies if you stay three or more nights in a row. They have an easy to navigate website that has several language options as well. It also has some modern touches like free wifi throughout.
People also praise the friendly, helpful staff here. Other features are the 24 hour staff, meaning there is no curfew like there can be with other ryokans. Furthermore, they allow you to leave luggage before check in/ after check out, which gives you more freedom. Therefore, with all the amenities and helpful features, this place makes our list of the best ryokans in Osaka.
Similar to Yamatoya Honten, this place is in a prime location. In fact, it is on the riverside of Dotonbori. If you didn’t know, Dotonbori has a famous canal running through it. They have an easy to follow English website as well. Other languages are available to translate the website into as well, making this very tourist friendly. It is also only 30 minutes away via train from Universal Studios.
They do offer a breakfast plan, but no dinner. A no meal option is available as well. Kuromon Market, a famous Osaka spot with a huge variety of products is only 10 minutes away. Therefore, with your proximity to such great food, this shouldn’t be a huge problem. Adding breakfast will be an extra charge of about 1000 yen. It will be Japanese style, and have items such as miso soup.
FACILITIES AND EXTRA INFORMATION
Large baths are on the 6th floor. They’re open from 6 to 8 in the morning, and 4 to midnight at night. However, the rooms come with a private bath and toilet as well. It just depends on how authentic you want to go! They also provide a yukata here, which is a nice addition to your experience. There are actually Western rooms without a private bathroom available as well. This will allow you to really tailor your experience to exactly how you want it. Depending on how many people there are, you can accommodate up to 6 people in one room. This would be a 10 tatami mat style room.
Check in is at 3 PM, and check out is at 10 AM. There is a 1 AM curfew. Kaneyoshi Ryokan notes that if you’re arriving after 6 PM to please contact them. If you’re arriving after curfew, they request that you contact them in advance. They will hold your luggage from 7 AM to 5 PM though. Other amenities include the free WiFi in the rooms. This place is also English friendly, providing English explanations next to their Japanese signs. Prices will vary depending on if you choose a room with a river view or not. The cheapest room with no meals is 6500 yen. To reiterate, the health crisis causes prices to fluctuate. Therefore, be mindful when booking rooms and when you are visiting.
Hotel Ichiei is actually right across from Namba station and was established in 1945! On top of that, they are special because they provide both Western and traditional style rooms. This is a good option if you’re searching for a hybrid of the two, without the completely traditional aspect a whole ryokan would have. Technically this is not really a ryokan as a whole, but has Japanese style rooms that give a similar experience. There are various room styles amongst the Japanese style ones. For example, there is the stone garden, corridor style, and modern Japanese style option. Since it might be hard to break all of this down, we will do the hard work for you.
ROOM STYLES AND RYOKAN INFORMATION
Japanese style suite rooms come in stone garden and corridor style. The difference is the atmosphere of the rooms. Stone garden is the image above, whereas corridor style is what they describe as an “authentic atmosphere of Japan”. These regular Japanese style rooms can fit four people. These come with low beds and futons. The modern option, on the other hand, is fully furnished, also coming with low beds. However, it has a three person capacity. There is also a more traditional option, which is the regular Japanese style room. These either have a five or three person capacity. These eliminate the low bed to truly capture the whole experience.
You can get breakfast and dinner in your room, or at the hotel restaurant. However, keep in mind that a more modern facility means that there is no onsen and public bath here. Their easy to navigate website offers services in English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. Check in is at 2 PM and check out is at 11 AM. It is a 24 hour stuff, however. This means that they will keep your luggage for you if you arrive early or check out though, so you can still explore Osaka. Currently, booking is unavailable with the current pandemic. However, please keep this place in mind for your future travels as it will surely open up.
As you can tell, Japan has some excellent lodging options for your travels. Especially for those who are truly committed to experiencing Japanese culture, ryokans provide a great opportunity to do this. However, with so much information, it can be hard to narrow this down. We hope that this list of the best ryokans in Osaka can help you with this.
QUICK SUMMARY OF CHOICES
To recap, here are the pros and cons of each place. For the Dotonbori general area, you will want to stay at either Yamatoya Honten or Kaneyoshi Ryokan. These are both in excellent locations that will put you right in all the action of Osaka. With close proximity to Shinsaibashi and Den Den Town as well, this is a great pick for tourists. If you prefer to have your dinner in the ryokan, be aware that Kaneyoshi does not offer dinner with its meal plan. With that being said, they provide a yukata at Kaneyoshi. Yamatoya Honten just offers a try on session in the lobby.
Hotel Ichiei, on the other hand, is great for those who want a modernized experience of a ryokan. If you’re not able to fully commit, they offer more modernized rooms with actual low beds on tatami mats. With this more modern facility, there are no public baths. It is still quite close to Dotonbori, just a little bit farther than the other two options. Hotel Ichiei is a great in-between place for people who want to experience the overall idea of a ryokan, but maybe not the completely traditional aspects of some older ones.
Hopefully between these three ryokans, you can find something that will suit your needs. If you really decide a ryokan isn’t for you, Kaneyoshi and Hotel Ichiei have Western rooms as well. If room is available, you can switch. However, this is unlikely to happen due to the great service and experience all of these places provide. Tourists visit all of these, so do not be afraid. All places have positive reviews. Japan has such a great culture, and you will not regret fully immersing yourself in it.