Ryokans and Onsens are a vital part of Japanese culture. It is a tradition of communal bathing that dates back many years. As weird as that is, it is still a very rejuvenating experience, and you can find many ryokans around Japan which offer a private experience – and are Muslim-friendly!
Ryokans are Japanese inns which are more than just a place to sleep in. It offers the full traditional Japanese experience of relaxation. You will find rooms with tatami floors, futon beds and hot spring baths. Hot springs have a lot of health benefits – from healing skin problems, boosting blood circulation, to relieving pain – the list is endless! Guests are also required to change into the traditional yukata and enjoy Japanese cuisine.
With much of Japan tourism taking an initiative to become more Muslim-friendly, you will find that there are some ryokans which offer Halal services. Keep reading to find out which Muslim-friendly ryokan you will want to book a stay at.
Easily one of the best ryokan chains in Kyoto the Risshisha Machiya highlights traditional comfort and innovation. The best part is that it has been Crescent rated!
Their ryokans have elegant wooden furnishings and are designed in the traditional minimalistic Japanese way but with modern sensitivities, which makes these ryokans stand out from the rest. All you have to do is kick back and relax in your yukata while enjoying some much needed “me time”.
The hotel chain has introduced Muslim-friendly services into their list of facilities, every room in the ryokans are equipped with prayer mats, the Qibla mark, Qibla compass, prayer clothes, as well as special tableware for Muslim guests.
They have also introduced a Halal menu that has been approved by the Japan Islamic Trust. They offer Gyudon Rice – which is a rice bowl with seasoned beef, Butter chicken curry with rice, Vegetable Penne, as well as Japanese Mochi stuffed with assorted flavours like matcha, mango and brown sugar.
You will find that Risshisha ryokans are situated close to Kyoto attractions, so that you can easily access the hotel after a day of exploring. The ryokans are also close to the Kyoto train station; if you are travelling by train you will be able to reach the hotel within 5 to 10 minutes.
Address: Kyoto Headquarters, 279, Shimochofukuji-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8375, Japan
Credit: Sato-Yu MukashibanashiYuzanso
Yuzanso offers a more traditional ryokan experience, located near Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, surrounded by nature all around; you will be able to witness stunning vistas. The Shiga prefecture hot spring has a history dating back a 1200 years! It doesn’t get more authentic than this.
The hotel has 109 rooms with 53 rooms coming with your very own private open air hot spring bath – privacy and luxury! Yuzanso also has an indoor public hot spring bath as well as an open air public hot spring bath for all guests, with separate bath areas for men and women. The open air baths are made with Cedar wood and both the men’s and women’s bath areas are equipped with a jet bath and sauna.
Yuzanso is part of the Muslim-friendly travel movement happening in Japan and have added Halal services to their facilities to accommodate Muslim guests. They have included a Halal menu, and ensure that their food has been prepared without any Non-Halal ingredients. They have a big breakfast spread with many varieties of food, as well as a Japanese style crab cuisine during winter.
The hotel is located in the Shiga Prefecture which is 20-minutes away from the Kyoto Prefecture; you can get to the hotel by taking a train to Ogoto-Onsen station. The hotel offers free transport from the Ogoto-Onsen station, you can inform them before reaching the station and they will send a shuttle bus to pick you up.
There are quite a few sights to see in Shiga – you can head to the Biwako Terrace a resort which offers stunning views of Lake Biwa and its surrounding areas, a great place for a photo op. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Mangetsuji Temple which is home to the Ukimido or “Floating Temple” on Lake Biwa. Once you are done at Shiga headover to Kyoto for more sightseeing as that is where most of the attractions are.
Address: Ogoto 1-9-28, Otsu-shi, Shiga 520-0101, Japan
Credit: Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo
Situated in Nanzen-ji area of Kyoto, home to stately villas from the Meiji period of Japan, the Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo will not disappoint.
They have a total of 18 rooms, with 6 of them being private suites equipped with their own hot spring water bath. The rooms located at their main building, Honkan, overlook the beautiful garden with its intricate landscaping in the traditional Japanese way.
The hotel does not offer any Halal facilities; however, you can opt for their Washouku Vegetarian course. Just because it is vegetarian does not mean you will not be able to enjoy the taste of Japanese cuisine it is prepared in the traditional Japanese style of cooking by balancing both Ying and Yang, so that guests can enjoy the authentic Japanese taste.
Other than chilling in your suite all day you can pay a visit to some of the attractions in the area, it’s just a 5-minute walk to Nanzenji Temple, Eikando Temple and, the Heian Jingu Shrine.
Address: Kyoto Garden ryokan Yachiyo, 34, Nanzenji Fukuji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 606-8435, Japan
Credit: Sumiya Kiho-an
This ryokan emphasizes on stylish and elegant luxury, nestled within the suburbs of Kyoto away from the hustle and bustle of the city this is the perfect place to relax and let go of all that stress.
Much like other ryokans, they are equipped with tatami mats and futons, however they have included the added luxury of kotatsu – tables with heaters. Their suites come with private onsens, directly sourced from the Yunohana Hot Springs.
They also offer a half-day or one-day onsen experience, so if you just want to get a brief glimpse into relaxing the Japanese way you can go for these packages especially if you aren’t staying in Kyoto for long. You can even opt for a spa day to get rid of weariness from travelling, as this Sumiya Kiho-an offers 30 minute packages.
Since the ryokan is in the suburbs of Kyoto, you will not be too far from the main attractions in Kyoto.
Address: 25 Miyanooku Hiedanocho Kakihana, Kameoka 621-0036, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Otaru-Kourakuen is surrounded by beautiful a garden boasting of 100 year old trees and 200 cherry blossom trees! Definitely a sight not to be missed and deserves a stay at.
The hotel consists of 35 rooms of which only 28 have private open-air hot-spring bath, however, if you have booked a room without one, you can always opt for the private onsen on the second floor via a reservation from the front desk.
Otaru-Kourakuen offers Muslim Friendy service – they offer a prayer rug, Kiblah direction, as well as a map of all prayer spaces and Halal shops within Otaru for the ease of their Muslim guests. They also offer Halal breakfast and dinner! You can choose between a Halal Shabu Shabu Hot pot, and 2 Halal course meals of varying prices.
Otaru is full of things to see and do – activities vary from season to season. There is a happening arts and crafts scene – especially glassware – as well as activities like skiing for the adrenaline junkies.
Note that they need at least 3 days advanced booking for Muslim guests to ensure they are provided with the best Halal friendly service.
Address: 18-2, Shinko 5, Otaru, 047-0152, Hokkaido, Japan
Credit: Kansuiro Ryokan and Onsen
Located in the famed resort town of Hakone, Kansuiro Ryokan is only 2 hours away from the bustling city of Tokyo, and is a safe haven for those wanting to escape the city.
The hotel is a beautiful Taisho era architectural masterpiece – step into the charming resort and get transported back in time! Their baths are in the Kakenagashi style – which means that the water is not recycled, but is fresh and comes straight from the source. They have taken extra care in giving you an exclusive experience by regulating the quality and temperature of the water.
They have a wide variety of rooms to choose from; each designed to make you feel at home and as relaxed as possible in the traditional Japanese way. They do not offer any specific Muslim-friendly services, however, you can always opt for their vegetarian meal course. Be sure to inform them when making your reservation.
While there you can check out the Hakone Open-air Musuem, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and, Owakudani geothermal valley.
Address: 88, Tonosawa, Hakone-machi, Ashigara-Shimogun, Kanagawa, 250-0315, Japan
Credit: Kashiwaya Ryokan
You will find this ryokan nestled in the mountain valley of Shima – a picturesque hot spring town just 3 hours outside of Tokyo. A Hot spring hotspot for amongst the locals, but not so much with the tourists – it will offer you the authentic countryside onsen experience you have been looking for.
This ryokan has a more casual setting but has all the authentic ryokan elements such as tatami floors and paper screens. They have 15 guestrooms, and you can opt to have a dip in your own hot spring bath or go for any of their 3 private outdoor onsens.
They do not offer any Halal facilities, however you can choose their vegetarian menu when ordering food.
Address: Kashiwaya ryokan, 3829 Shima, Nakanojo Agatuma-gun Gunma 377-0601, Japan
If you are looking for an authentic Japanese experience – then booking a stay at any of the above ryokans will fullfil that for you. So start planning your Japanese ryokan vacation now!