Ryokan. What is it? And is it worth staying there?

Ryokan. What is it? And is it worth staying there?

Ryokan is a traditional Japanese style hotel found throughout the Land of the Rising Sun especially in the hot spring resorts. Ryokans, just like European and American hotels, come in a variety of sizes (from small family-run to huge ones with hundreds of rooms) and very different in terms of price (night in a really great ryokan can literally cost a fortune).

Despite I’m using a word ‘hotel’ as a synonym to ryokan, I should not as ryokan is very different from Western-style hotel on so many levels. Room floor is covered with traditional tatami mats, you sleep on futon beds which are laying directly on the floor (it’s like kind of mattress put directly on the floor – believe me it’s super comfortable!), you can try Japanese baths or hot springs, traditional cuisine in form of impressive kaiseki-ryori, which is impressive multi-course dinner. And apart from that you can walk whole day dressed in yukata – traditional Japanese summer kimono.

Yes, I tried Ryokan (e.g. in Kii Katsuura). And loved it. Despite the fact that at the beginning I felt quite uncomfortable as most of the guests in the ryokans are Japanese and the Japanese etiquette is as complicated as savoir vivre rules (if not more) so making silly mistake for me was something inevitable. But other than that the stay in the ryokan was great. It’s very relaxing experience where you can feel very well looked-after. You can feel that someone really cares about you and about making your stay as enjoyable as possible.

In the image below you can see one of the famous ryokans in Kyoto – Seikoro Ryokan – which was established back in 1831. I took this HDR image during short walk through Kyoto during blue hour.

Seikoro Ryokan in Kyoto

Camera and post-processing info

  • Camera: Canon 5D MK III (read my review)
  • Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
  • Focal length: 24 mm
  • Aperture: f/8.0
  • Exposure time: 1/5 s (“middle” exposure)
  • ISO: 200
  • Number of exposures: 5
  • E.V. Step: 1.0
  • Flash used: no
  • Tripod: yes
  • Filters: no
  • Technique: HDR, tone-mapping
  • Software: Magic Lantern, Photomatix Pro 5.1 (Contrast Optimizer), Capture One 9, Photoshop CC 2015, ON1 Effects 10.5

First of all I would like to mention that with today post I changed Camera and post-processing info section a little bit. Now it should be a bit easier to read. But of course let me know if it isn’t.

As I already mentioned the image above is HDR. I took 5 exposures mainly because the lamps and the hotel logo were really bright and overexposed. Also the plants on the left were too dark.

Regarding post-processing, as always I started with things like lens correction and chromatic aberration removal and then I loaded my images into Photomatix Pro 5, where I used Contrast Optimizer tone-mapper and then opened my tone-mapped image in Photoshop to do some more tweaks. Main one was to improve contrast and color saturation a bit and I used ON1 Effects plug-in for that purpose.

2017-01-17T19:42:24+00:00 July 12th, 2016|Posted in: Japan|