When traveling in Japan, staying in a Hotel or a Ryokan is the most common form of accommodation.
Photo by GION HATANAKA
A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn dating from the Edo period, which served as rest stops for traveling noblemen and feudal lords. The rooms in these inns are usually of Japanese-style layout, consisting of a low table on bare Tatami (straw mat) floors, and sliding paper-screen doors. Most Ryokan have a communal bath so in some cases, some of the Ryokan won't have private bathrooms in each room. Guests are provided with Yukata (Japanese robe) to wear, and a futon instead of beds that are set out by the staff in the evenings and stored away during the day. Rates vary according to the type of room and season. In most cases, unlike hotel rooms, the rates will be displayed per person. Most offer warm hospitality, excellent service, and nice, if not exquisite meals. Especially during the tourist season, it is advisable to reserve ahead. If you are traveling in Japan, staying in a Ryokan is a recommended experience.
Photo by Holiday Inn Kyoto
You can assume Hotels in Japan operate the same way as anywhere else. Checking in, room service, safes, etc. Most of the rates will be displayed per room, but depending on how many people stay, the rates may vary.
There's no tipping culture in Japan so you don't need to leave money for the maid, even if you are staying in a well-known hotel that has branches overseas.
Photo by Seryo
There are a few more unwritten rules you should keep in mind before staying at a Ryokan. When you take a bath in one of these public baths, remember you must take off all your clothes before entering. (That means no underwear!) You will be given a small towel to take in if you are the shy type. Before getting into the water, you must wash your body thoroughly at the shower stalls. Once you have cleaned and rinsed your body, you may enter. Once you are in the water, relax and enjoy! But it is common manner to not put your towel into the water. You have a few choices of what to do with it. One, you can place it on your head. Two, leave it on the deck or three, not take it in with you at all. Once you get used to this odd and unfamiliar culture, you will learn to enjoy it, and eventually think "why don't we do this back home?"