If you feel like you need to disconnect and recalibrate—and have a few days to do it—then look into booking a couple of nights at a Japanese ryokan. These traditional inns date back to the 8th century A.D., and many of the earliest ones were located along the Tokaido route, which connected current-day Tokyo and Kyoto, and provided respite for nomadic samurai and traders. Now, however, they are a preferred lodging option for locals and tourists alike. These accommodations are characterized by tatami mat flooring, low wooden tables, shoji screens, futon bedding, and yukata robes. But the real perks of staying at a ryokan are the impeccable hospitality (omotenashi), multicourse kaiseki dinner (and ensuing breakfast spread) that’s typically built into room rates, and, not always but usually, access to a nearby or on-site onsen (hot spring). These bathing facilities are usually communal, separated by gender, and, quite honestly, not for the modest. For those who aren’t easily abashed, they’re incredibly soothing and restorative.
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