Ryokan-style inns and onsen are typically viewed as places for escape, natural beauty, and relaxation (as shown by this list of 10 awesome ryokan in Japan), but what if they were also places to get some work done?
If you’re a writer looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, this is the place for you. The Ryokan Tokyo Yugawara (located in Kanagawa prefecture) offers a unique environment for writers to hunker down and get some work done with services like relaxing onsen, free-flowing coffee, comfortable chairs, a “staff progress check-in,” and more.
They offer two packages: a one-night “immersion” plan that includes three meals, and a two-day “boiled” plan with five meals. Since we’re a full team of writers, one of our staff decided to try out the longer plan to see what The Ryokan Tokyo Yugawara has to offer. Rates start at 23,000 yen for a two-person room; since only one of our staff went, we were charged 27,300 yen.
▼ A shuttle bus from Yugawara Station took us to the contemporary and Japanese-style ryokan.
At check-in, we paid for our stay, specified our meal times, chose our yukata, and headed to our room. It was located on the fourth floor (a word of caution: there are no elevators!).
▼ Here’s the check-in counter. We were surprised at how warm and wide it was thanks to the large windows that let in natural light.
On our way up, we enjoyed the sounds of birds chirping, the mountain scenery, and the aroma of tatami mats. What we enjoyed even more was our room! The walls are decorated with a gold screen and ukiyo-e style art on the sliding doors to the closet. It also came equipped with a futon bed, TV, extension cord, air conditioner, toilet, table, tea, and comfy beanbag chair.
▼ In order to maintain guests’ privacy, staff don’t roll out the futon for you like some other ryokan offer, so you’ll have to do it yourself.
Along with your own room, the ryokan also has a cafe space that you’re welcome to use. It has more tables and bean bag chairs, Wi-Fi and charging stations for every booth, and the best part: all-you-can-drink coffee!
▼ The areas separated by curtains makes it feel both open and private at the same time.
You can even bring the coffee into your room, and if you want to feel the buzz of caffeine late at night, they also offer a coffee pot service.
The onsen rooms are also lovely and perfect for relaxing after a long session of writing success and/or struggling with writer’s block.
▼ Perhaps the paintings of Mt. Fuji and cherry blossoms will inspire you as well.
And of course, we tried out one of the most important parts: the food. Our five meals weren’t exactly extravagant, but they source some of the main ingredients locally and they were pretty tasty!
▼ We had tonkatsu, fish, curry, fried chicken, and more fish! Other items like beer and ice cream cost extra.
One service we were looking forward to was their “staff progress check-in.” Basically, you can request that a ryokan staff member come up to you and ask you, “So, how’s your work going?” at some point during your stay. We expressed interest when we checked in, but never specified a time.
So we waited, and waited, and waited…but they never came.
When we asked why at check-out, we were told it was because we hadn’t specified a time or situation for them to check our progress. For instance, you can ask them to check up on you when you’re in the cafe area. The more you know!
Despite the hiccup on our part, we had a very relaxing yet productive stay at The Ryokan Tokyo Yugawara. Whether you’re looking for a chill getaway from Tokyo or a mini writer’s retreat, we’d recommend giving this place a try! Just don’t forget to brush up on your ryokan etiquette beforehand.
The Ryokan Tokyo Yugawara
Kanagawa-ken, Ashigarashimo-gun, Yugawara-cho, Miyakami 742
Reception open on weekdays 11 a.m.-9 p.m, weekends 12 p.m.-9 p.m.
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