By Bonson Lam
I’m positive that when most people come to Japan for the first time, they want to experience something that’s not found in their home country. Such an experience includes accommodation. There are hotels in Japan that are first class with outstanding service but they're usually western style similar those found in Europe and America. But if you’re visiting Japan, why not try staying at a ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn? Ryokans can be very luxurious and expensive, but Business Ryokan Tamaki in Kumamoto enables you to experience a friendly, traditional stay for the price of an affordable business-grade hotel.
Kumamoto City boasts one of the last remaining streetcar systems in the country, and the ryokan is conveniently located less than five minutes on foot from the Misotenjinmae streetcar stop. This downtown location will give you access to the city’s top travel destinations, Kumamoto Castle and the Japanese garden Suizenji Joju-en, in less than ten minutes by streetcar.
The ryokan is run by a kind, down-to-earth couple. I really enjoyed being able to have a regular conversation with them. I mean, when I stay at regular hotels I appreciate that the concierges treat me with respect but at the same time I can tell there’s a distance between us. Here, there was the same level of respectfulness but with a more comfortable, warmhearted feeling that made me feel truly welcome.
The rooms are Japanese style with traditional tatami flooring, upon which you can sleep in comfort on restful futons. The food, too, is fabulous. Breakfast is Japanese style and the husband cooks all the dishes. Almost all of the ingredients used are grown in Kumamoto, and most amazingly, the miso was homemade.
Prices vary according to room size (small or large) and whether you opt for the breakfast or not. The small rooms are 6 tatami mats and the large ones 10 mats if you’re counting (one tatami is 180 cm by 90 cm). For a six-mat room, it’s 4,980 yen with breakfast and 4,180 yen without breakfast. For a ten-mat room, it is 5,500 yen with breakfast and 4,700 yen without breakfast. The extra 800 yen for breakfast is well worth it to make your stay at this traditional inn complete.
If you want to experience a Japanese style room with homemade meals and meet nice people, I highly recommend staying at Business Ryokan Tamaki. You won’t regret it.
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