Ryokans in Tokyo

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Best Tokyo Ryokans

Hit the Shibuya crossing at rush hour to experience the frenetic pace of Tokyo at its finest. The world’s busiest intersection epitomizes this throbbing, pulsating city like nowhere else. Neon assails your senses from every direction—and the people are just as dazzling as the advertisements. But beneath the brash veneer of this 21st-century metropolis lies a quieter, more traditional city, the former feudal capital of Edo. Dig a little deeper and you’ll be rewarded with an entirely different view of Tokyo.

Things to see in Tokyo

There's more to Japanese culture than manga, karaoke, and shopping; to discover another side, head for the Tokyo National Museum in beautiful Ueno Park. Here you’ll find the largest collection of Japanese art in the world. Marvel at traditional woodblock prints, embellished kimonos, and gilded Buddhas, as well as priceless ceramics and ancient artifacts. If your vacation in Tokyo coincides with the spring cherry blossom season, Ueno Park is one of the best places to capture this iconic image of old Japan in full bloom—locals use this special time to let their hair down and party under the luxuriant pink boughs. Tokyo is also home to the National Noh Theater, a highly stylized art form blending classical music and drama, which has changed little from its 14th-century origins. Don’t let the language barrier put you off attending a performance—choose Furyu Noh, which is primarily dance-based.

Ryokans in Tokyo

Like any modern international city, accommodation in Tokyo comes in all shapes, sizes, and prices. But if you’re seeking a more authentic vibe, why not opt to stay in a Japanese ryokan? An integral part of Japanese culture for many centuries, these traditional dwellings originated as roadside inns in the 1600s and typically consist of modestly furnished guest rooms with futon bedding, tatami-mat flooring, and sliding doors to a small lobby or balcony. Living and bathing areas are often shared, and meals are usually included in the room price, either eaten communally or served in guests’ own rooms.

Where to stay in Tokyo

Although these mainly family-owned hostelries tend to thrive more in rural areas, there is still a wealth of choice on offer for those with their heart set on staying in a ryokan in downtown Tokyo. Not surprisingly, the best examples of this once-ubiquitous Japanese guesthouse are usually situated in older, more traditional districts of the city, such as Asakusa, or in the bohemian university quarter. For something more upscale, try the quieter residential neighborhoods around Ueno Park. A few enterprising Tokyo hoteliers are starting to supply the growing demand for authentic travel experiences by opening boutique ryokans in prestige city center locations and on the beach.

How to get to Tokyo

Tokyo is the global gateway to Japan, served by two busy airports—Narita, the main international hub, and Haneda, which has both international and domestic flights. Both airports have a wide choice of direct and stopping services covering all areas of Tokyo by train or bus. The fastest rail link between Narita and Tokyo Station takes 55 minutes non-stop, where you can connect to the city’s clean, efficient metro system. If you’re traveling overland to Tokyo from another city, take a space-age ride on the famous “bullet train,” which reaches speeds of 200 mph and prides itself on its to-the-second punctuality.

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