Sunday, March 30, 2014



Kyoto Searches Blossom During Sakura Season
Submerge in the Japanese culture with tips from

Signalling the arrival of spring, Sakura is one of the most highly anticipated seasons among travellers. Data from Hotels.comTM has revealed the marked increase in searches for Japan by 36% between March and April in 2014 compared to the year before, indicating the growing popularity in visits for this season.

The appeal of the cherry blossom season is growing, particularly in Kyoto. As one of the most popular spots for cherry blossoms, searches for hotels in the city grew by 12% in 2014, compared to the same period in 2013.

What better way to simultaneously experience the spectacular season and Japanese culture than to live within the comforts of a ryokan? Originated in the Edo period, these traditional Japanese inns provide travellers with the unique opportunity to experience the Japanese lifestyle, including:

·         Onsen: Traditionally used as public bathing places built around the hot springs, travellers can bask themselves in naturally hot water from geothermally-heated springs, which are believed to have healing elements derived from its mineral content.
·         Tatami rooms with futons: Ryokans are equipped with futons placed on tatami flooring, a type of mat made from bamboo. After a relaxing dip in the onsen, one is promised a good night's rest on these Japanese-style padded mattresses.
·         Kaiseiki: Ryokans pride in serving a variety of traditional Japanese delicacies, composed of many small dishes, often prepared with local and seasonal ingredients and can be enjoyed in the comforts in your room or dining venues.

Submerge in the Japanese atmosphere and aesthetics with a stay in the ryokan. As this exotic experience may be unsettling for first-timers, here are the top five tips to ensure the ultimate ryokan experience.  

1.    Take off your shoes when entering a ryokan and put on the slippers prepared for you. Wear the geta wooden sandals provided for you when you take a walk outdoors.
2.    Wear your yukata with the left side over the right side, as the other way is for corpses. The yukata can be worn during your whole stay – to the bath, during meals or when relaxing.
3.    Take a shower before entering the onsen. The bathing areas are usually equipped with amenities. Swimsuits are not allowed and small towels will be provided. Note that the onsens are separated for both genders, so be careful not to enter the wrong side. Generally, men's baths are indicated in blue and women's baths in red.
4.    Do not make loud noises in public or onsens as the atmosphere is meant for relaxation and quiet conversations.
5.    Be prepared for a typical Japanese meal of rice, fish, miso soup and vegetables. It is quite rare for ryokans to offer Western food. Dinners are usually served early, between 6pm and 7pm – do schedule with the ryokan staff if you'd like your dinner at a later time.

To witness the Kyoto trees bloom into Sakura and enjoy a traditional ryokan stay, recommends the following:

For the sightseers: An urban yet tranquil experience

Throughout the cherry blossom season, guests from the Nishiyama Ryokan can soak up the sights and sounds of Kyoto by the waterfall. Located within the central area of the city and at the city’s major sightseeing points, the ryokan offers convenient access to the Kyoto International Manga Museum, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Subway station.

Rooms start at HK$2,260* per room per night.

For the traditional trail blazers: Private baths and mountainous views

Situated on the Eastern Mountain overlooking the heart of Kyoto, Gion Hatanaka is within walking distance of the famed Yasaka Shrine, Kodaiji Temple and Nijo Castle. The ryokan offers a relaxing aromatic Japanese bath alongside delectable local cuisine that should not be missed.

Rooms start at HK$1,950* per room per night.

For the nature enthusiast: Witness the change of seasons

The best way to observe seasonal changes in the wake of spring is to spend a few nights in ryokans. The Japanese Inn Yoshimizu is tucked within the high hills of Maruyama Park, surrounded by bamboo groves and cherry blossoms, located close to essential tourist sites such as the Chion-in Temple, Gion Corner and the Kyoto Imperial Palace.

Rooms start at HK$650* per room per night.

Other recommended Kyota ryokans in

1.    Seikoro Ryokan  ---4*

Located in Higashiyama area, Seikoro Ryokan is close to many cultural sights including Shoseien Garden, Sanjusangendo Temple and Higashi Honganji Temple. Bathrooms offer separate bathtubs and showers with deep soaking bathtubs and handheld showerheads.

Rooms start at HK$2,069* per room per night.

2.    Oyado Ishicho ---4*

Located in Nakagyo Ward area, Oyado Ishicho is a family-friendly ryokan close to Kyoto Holy Annunciation Cathedral, Kyoto Kaikan and Hosomi Art Museum.

Rooms start at HK$1,519* per room per night.

3.    Gion Maifukan ---4*

Located in Higashiyama area, Gion Maifukan is close to Hokan-ji Temple, Kiyomizu Temple and Gion Corner. In-room massages are available on request.

Rooms start at HK$1,433* per room per night.

4.    Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo ---3.5*

Located in Higashiyama area, Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo is close to Kyoto Municipal Zoo, Heian Shrine and Kiyomizu Temple.

Rooms start at HK$724* per room per night.

5.    Kyoto Watazen Ryokan ---3*

Located in Nakagyo Ward area, Kyoto Watazen Ryokan is close to Rokakkudo Temple, Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace.

Rooms start at HK$709* per room per night.

6.    Hotel Sugicho ---3*

Located in Nakagyo area, Hotel Sugicho is close to Kyoto Holy Annunciation Cathedral, Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace.

Rooms start at HK$279* per room per night.

7.    Ryokan Yamazaki ---3*

Located in Ukyo Ward area, Ryokan Yamazaki is close to Ninnaji Temple, Ryoanji Temple, Daikakuji Temple as well as Kyoto Studio Park. Complimentary wired high-speed Internet access is provided.

Rooms start at HK$279* per room per night.

* All prices are correct as of 19 March 2014 but are subject to change. Terms and conditions apply; please see specific details for each hotel listed below by clicking at the hotel of your interest. Search with your preferred dates for travel to see the discounted rates for your stay. All prices listed do not include tax and fees. For more deals and information please visit


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