Ryokan Sawanoya

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Sawanoya (Yanaka, Tokyo) is a family-run inn dedicated to helping one relax in a typical local Japanese atmosphere. The Nezu Shrine and the Shitamachi Museum are located within the vicinity. The inn is a referred to as a ryokan (a type of traditional Japanese inn that typically features tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukata and talk with the owner).


Sawanoya is a very friendly ryokan inn, and when we went to visit, they were more than happy to show us around. While the traditional folksy lifestyle is still preserved, their inn gives one the unusual opportunity to see and interact with a real Japanese neighborhood. We were welcomed in with two cups of cold green tea which tasted excellent on the hot day it was. We then talked for a bit about the history of the inn, and discussed the details we needed to know before touring.


We started the tour by viewing the different room accommodations on the first and second floors. This ryokan offers multiple options for lodging. They have rooms for single person, as well as rooms for two or three people. Two of their rooms offer private baths as well, these rooms are most likely to be fully booked, so make sure to get your reservations in early.


However, if you cannot book a room with a bathroom, it is okay. They have communal toilets as well as two communal bathhouses where you can either bath by yourself or with friends. After a day of exploring around Tokyo, nothing beats taking a hot bath with your traveling buddy. The water is always at a constantly amazing too, so feel free to relax and enjoy the view of the garden from the tubs.


In the lobby there are multiple souvenirs and pieces of artwork on display. Most are traditional and Japanese, but some are more modern, such as the Pokémon on display. They have a souvenir case where people from all over leave things which represent their homes and are displayed in the hotel lobby. This demonstrates the diversity of guests who check into their hotel; they are more than happy to host anyone regardless of their cultural background.


You can walk all the way up to the top of the building to do laundry at look at pleasant view of Tokyo from the rooftop. Above is a photo of the view from the top of the inn. Although it’s cloudy and only three stories up, it is still a wonderful sight to see. The view, in my eyes, was magnificent and awe inspiring.


This hotel been family owned and ran for over 70 years by the Sawa family. They have truly upheld the meaning of hospitality since they opened, and have hosted many people from many places. There are twelve rooms total in this ryokan; only two of the twelve rooms have their own bathroom. The price for a single room for one person is ¥5,940; however, a single person cannot reserve a room with a bath. For two people, the cost of a room is ¥11,220, and it is ¥12,320 to reserve a room with a bath. For three people the cost is ¥15,510, and it is ¥17,820 for a room with a bath.


It truly is an experience to see such Japanese traditionalism, as it is what many tourists visit Japan for, myself included. You cannot come to Japan for the culture without checking-in to a ryokan for a night. These are the type experiences which have existed since the Keiun era, and should be preserved for future generations to experience for themselves.


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