Stay in a ‘ryokan’ to capture the full Japanese experience. These rustic, yet often luxurious, lodgings pay homage to the past through a traditional aesthetic – think tatami mats and futon beds, plus hot-spring baths and timeless cuisine. And if you’re in Osaka, there’s a great selection on offer, ranging from five-star luxe to budget-friendly breaks, and they’re bookable on Culture Trip.
This stylish, modern ryokan is in the centre of the vibrant Dotonbori entertainment district. However, inside, you’re immersed in a quiet, tranquil setting. With traditional amenities such as kimono rental and a communal bath, plus modern ones, such as free wifi and an on-site restaurant, this inn provides a comfortable and convenient stay but with the buzz of Osaka within easy reach.
On the scenic Dotonbori riverside is Kaneyoshi Ryokan. It delivers plenty of modern conveniences (air conditioning, wifi and easy access to public transportation), but the interior is classically Japanese – though there are Western-style rooms with beds instead of futons, should you wish. All rooms come with a yukata (Japanese robe), and many have lovely river views.
Just minutes from Tennoji Station – one of the major Osaka hubs – is where you’ll find this homely ryokan, Hokousou. Immerse yourself in the traditional tatami rooms and courtyard, and then mosey across the street to Tennoji Park and Zoo. The bath is open 24 hours, allowing you to soak at any time, and there are coin laundry machines available, too.
In a gorgeous quasi-national park, Minoo Koen, this ryokan is an oasis of peace only 30 minutes from Osaka. It has a traditional aesthetic (tatami floors and futon bedding) plus a rooftop bath with a view of Osaka, a lounge where you can listen to live jazz, and horses you can visit. You’ll also get free access to Minoh Onsen Spa Garden, home to an array of baths and an outdoor swimming pool.
Nanten-en has a rather prestigious architectural history, designed by the same architect behind the magnificent Tokyo Station. It’s less than an hour to both Osaka City and Koyasan, but with a Japanese garden, healing hot springs and vegetarian- and halal-friendly cuisine, you may never want to leave.
Okumizuma Onsen is the type of place that defies most people’s image of Osaka – home of neon lights and takoyaki (ball-shaped snack) stands. Instead, this secluded ryokan sits on the southern cusp of Osaka prefecture, looking onto the lush spiritual plains of mountainous Wakayama. With natural hot spring baths flanked by seasonally transforming foliage, Okumizuma Onsen is a side of Osaka you’ll be very glad to meet.
Just 30 minutes from Kansai International Airport, Fudouguchikan feels a world away from the fast-paced energy of the neighbouring city. This four-star hotel is the epitome of Japanese countryside relaxation, with the soft light-filled tatami-mat rooms flanked by mountains and soundtracked by the gentle rush of the Kashii River. In typical ryokan fashion, dinner is served on-site, and every night offers a feast of artful plating, colours and regional flavours.
Juxtaposed against the modern face of Osaka, Harper House is a piece of traditional elegance in the heart of the Nishinari Ward, a neighbourhood known for neon- and sake-drenched streets. The rooms invoke an air of meticulously kept retro charm, with tatami flooring, zabuton (cushion) seating and futon beds. Well-positioned to offer easy access to the city nightlife, Harper House is practically designed for those who want to experience both sides of Osaka.
A two-minute walk from Dotonburi, the iconic waterfront and popular tourist destination in the city, Hotel Kuramoto cuts a striking contrast with a sleek and elegantly minimalist interior, offering a taste of the more laid-back side of the city. With classic ryokan-style interior design, plus a banquet hall, public baths and modern twists – try takoyaki served with traditional kaiseki meals – this top hotel in Osaka demonstrates that you don’t have to forgo fun for authenticity.
Lucy Dayman contributed additional reporting to this article.
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