Now that we’ve moved past a wave of late summer typhoons, fall is finally in the air! With the cooler weather and fall foliage at our doorstep, it’s the perfect time to make reservations for a hotspring vacation. Autumn and winter are great times to plan a quick getaway with family, friends, or partners to a quiet ryokan, where you can enjoy traditional Japanese architecture, food, and taking a dip in a steaming hot spring bath. As many of these smaller ryokan are run by families and a vast number of the ones with full English language service are extremely expensive, it can be hard to know just where to start when booking. That’s why today we have listed a side by side comparison of the 3 Best English Booking Sites for Ryokans, Traditional Japanese Inns. We’ll run down the benefits of each site, the ease of use, and then give you an example of the kinds of results that each site yielded for the same search requirements
1. Jalan 8/10
Jalan is one of the most popular general booking sites in Japan. The original Japanese site includes tours, transportation, in addition to travel guides. The original site offers special packages and limited coupons that unfortunately aren’t available on the English site. However, it does provide several tourist-friendly services, including a restaurant directory for tasty local eats, and a special subdivision called Activities , which offers countless nature tours, local experiences and cultural workshops at reasonable prices.
2. Japanican 7/10
Japanican is the only site listed here that aims to solely serve tourists. Highly recommended by the Japanese National Tourist Organization. this site provided booking options with 4 language options. Half booking site, half travel guide, the site has a blog, which though updated infrequently, has some good staple articles for planning your travel. The interactive map on its homepage is good for people who want to get acquainted with Japan and its regional difference from zero.
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3. Rakuten Travel 5/10
Rakuten is known for being an e-commerce giant (think of it as the Japanese Amazon) and one of its divisions, Rakuten Travel, is also a wildly popular site for booking. It offers customers the option of browsing in 12 different languages, and has a Features section that gives region/activity specific accommodation recommendations. Looking for a good place to go skiiing? The Features section has a map with all the most popular locations marked, and links to places to stay that will provide you easy access. This site is recommended for people who like simple visuals and large pictures.
Now, let’s look at a side-by-side comparison of how these sites stack up! We choose a popoular onsen destination, Hakone, found in Kanagawa-ken. Here are the results that we were given when using the same search parameters.
For more information, including directories where you can view listings of individual Ryokans officially registered with the Japanese National Tourist Organization, visit JNTO’S official site here.So now, you have a place to start!
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