Monday morning saw us heading out of Tokyo by train to Odawara and Hakone. Our stay would be in a traditional Japanese hotel called a Ryokan. Our hotel was the Hatsuhana a short bus ride from the station. Ryokans were developed in the 17th and 18th Centuries as travellers inns ( similar to English coaching inns) when journeys took a considerable amount of time.
In good Ryokan, the rooms are very simple but lovely, the floors are covered with tatamis, ( woven mats) and there is usually a table for tea, ( but no chairs). In the closet the traveller will find Yukatas, these are sort of pyjamas /kimono. Usually made out of cotton, with a top, trousers and then a kimono type jacket. Tradition says that the left hand side is wrapped over the right hand side, except for the deceased when it is reversed. It is tied with a sash and the bow should be at the back ( as if at the front it could be misconstrued as a prostitute) The Yukata is usually worn with traditional wooden sandals. These outfits are worn whilst staying in the Ryokan, before and after bathing, and for meals. Most modern Ryokans have public baths, with water often coming from a hot spring.
After checking in we made our way back to the station for the short ride to the Hakone open air museum. This was Japans first open air museum, and was opened in 1969. There you will find over a thousand sculptures, and works of art, including some by Picasso and Henry Moore.
Upon returning to our Ryokan, we took in the Hot Springs bath, where certain rituals have to be observed. One has to wash thoroughly before entering the bath ( nude) as the bath is for relaxing and not for washing ( I am not sure , on the hygienic factor here, there was no smell of Chlorine, although Wikepedia says that chlorine is used. However there have been outbreaks of Legionella. ) Customers with tattoos are usually banned because of the association of tattoos with organised crime.
So onto dinner, which was served to us in a private room. You can see from the photos, that a) we were all dressed accordingly and b) that we were served a veritable feast. Breakfast was also served in this room and again the amount of table ware used is actually mind boggling, especially given that the majority of it is NOT put in a dishwasher!
So dinner was very good and our room also, but I have to say that sleeping on the floor, is not the most comfortable of events, nor is kneeling or sitting cross legged. Apparently Japanese learn from an early age to do this and of course in a traditional home, it really is sleeping daily on the floor.