Our experience of staying in a traditional ryokan guesthouse in Murakami, Japan.
After spending a fantastic 3 weeks travelling around Japan, visiting everything from the country’s biggest cities to its quaint mountain villages, there was one experience left that we still wanted to try – stay in a ryokan.
These traditional Japanese inns are found all over the country, offering tourists a unique accommodation encounter.
Ryokans have a rich history, with the first one being established in the 8th century as the oldest hotel in the world.
Designed as an open, communal space, guests are welcomed with tremendous hospitality and given an opportunity to dive deep into Japanese culture.
A ryokan is more than just a place to rest your head. Staying in one is an experience.
Many of our friends had visited ryokans on their own trips to Japan, and having heard so many positive reviews about them, we couldn’t wait to finish our own travels with one.
READ MORE: Check out our complete list of the best places to visit in Japan!
Iromusubi Guesthouse – The Best Ryokan in Murakmi
We had travelled to the west-coast town of Niigata towards the end of our Japan trip, with the plan being to check out the beaches of nearby Gatsugi.
Afterwards we were excited to stay in the best ryokan in Murakami, the brand new Iromusubi Guesthouse.
We couldn’t check in until the afternoon, so not wanting to waste the day, we jumped on a train to Murakami, transferring to the scenic rural train to the small fishing village of Gatsugi.
The ride was gorgeous, winding along the coast with spectacular views over the Sea of Japan punctuated with farmland and rocky headlands.
After spending the morning wandering around Gatsugi (more information on what we did there below), we met Mrs Sayo Furubayashi, one of the owners of Iromusubi Guesthouse, at the station.
She had come out to Gatsugi to pick us up, and with her bubbly personality and decent English, we immediately hit it off.
It was a 45-minute drive to the guesthouse, and along the way, Sayo stopped off at a natural spring to fill up jugs of water for cooking that night.
The spring was believed to be high in minerals, and Sayo was excited to prepare a meal for us that night using it.
Soon enough we arrived in the small village of Sasaki, just outside of Murakami, home to Iromusubi Guesthouse.
Sayo excitedly welcomed us inside her…