The Global Basecamps Blog
Japan’s Culture Through Ryokan
Few countries can claim their hotels as one of their main tourist attractions. Japan is different. Staying in a traditional ryokan provides insight into what Japan values: simple, well-made food, courteous service, tradition, a place that feels like home.
No one travels in Japan more than the Japanese themselves. Part of this is due to the values listed above, and part of this is because of the natural hot springs that dot the islands. Weekends at a hot spring resort are not just common, they’re a necessary respite from the stress of urban living. Knowing this, it’s safe to say that the country’s best ryokan are located near the country’s most popular natural hot springs.
And so we come to Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan, a traditional yet luxurious basecamp in Kinosaki-cho, Japan.
Japan is a familiar place, whether we as Americans recognize it or not. Think of a foreign culture with more instantly recognizable symbols. Samurai, geisha, castles, cherry blossoms, anime cartoons. Despite this, between the language and the private nature of its people, Japanese culture can be a tough nut to crack. Global Basecamps' cultural Japan tours aim to change this, by making it as easy as possible to experience old and new Japan. In an effort to pierce the veil just a bit before your trip, we will do our best to outline what to expect in a common day at a sumo wrestling tournament.
Where to See Sumo
Japan’s most popular tournaments are held in a rotation throughout the year in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. These cities all have international airports and are easily accessible by other means, but foreigners tend to attend Tokyo and Osaka tournaments in greater numbers. Of these, the most popular venue by far is Tokyo’s Kokugikan, which hosts the January, May and September tournaments and seats 13,000 people.
Global Basecamps is incredibly proud to have been named a finalist for TravelAge West's Trendsetter Award for Upward Bound, Rockstar Agent Under 40. Our Travel Specialist Andres Zuleta, has been a part of the Global Basecamps family since 2009 and specializes in customizing travel to Japan and South America.
A large factor in TravelAge West’s decision to nominate Andres was Global Basecamp’s commitment as a whole to bring you a new, (and we think better!) way to see Japan. From one-on-one experiences with geisha, to staying in traditional Japanese ryokan, Global Basecamps strives to truly connect you to Japan's ancient culture. We will not let you leave Japan without at least a few truly cultural experiences, and this sets us apart in a way that TravelAge West recognized.
One of our own recently returned from his trip to Okinawa, Japan. He was kind enough to share some of his pictures and experiences with us! This is How We Travel.
I recently had the fortune to travel to Okinawa. Despite having lived for several years on Japan's mainland, this was my first visit to Okinawa and in every way it exceeded my expectations.
I flew into Tokyo and connected directly to Naha, Okinawa's largest city on Okinawa Honto, Okinawa's main island ("honto" just means "main island"). If I had to do it again, I would spend 1-2 nights in Tokyo at the start, because by the time I arrived in Okinawa I was exhausted (and a ramen in Tokyo would have been a nice treat after the 10-hour flight). On the flip side, I was thrilled to wake up the next morning already in paradise... so for shorter trips, flying into Okinawa directly makes perfect sense.