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I'm booking accommodation near Izu Inatori for the dontsuku matsuri (don't google it at work!) and I'm considering whether to book dinner at my ryokan.

I suspect that I'd rather be able to eat out so that I can eat with fellow revellers, and then continue drinking into the night, rather than head back to my ryokan, eat dinner, and then call it a night.

The problem is, I'm a solo traveller, which is bad news for a ryokan owner during a festival as they charge by the person, not by the room. Choosing not to eat dinner is even worse news for the owner.

In Japan, is it considered "cheap" (as in stingy, miserly) not to eat dinner at your ryokan, or is it socially acceptable, even during a festival?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Often Ryokans will either make dinners mandatory and exclude single guests if they feel a too big impact from this. Specially during festivals the rules might be even more strict.

If your Ryokan does not exclude single guests and does not include the dinner in the price, you are normally free to come as a single guest and also skip dinner. Of course you cannot expect anyone to appreciate it however.

I generally found the rules in Ryokans rather stiff and unaccommodating than anything else with, wake-up, breakfast and dinners being scheduled to the second, along with fixed menus etc. If I perceive that there is a freedom given in a Ryokan, I take it rather as a true freedom to take. On the other hand, I consider the food of a Ryokan as a strong part of the experience there and will normally not go there if I do not have dinner at least on one evening of my stay.

While, as you are saying yourself, it's not the best for the ryokan, you can depend somewhat on the rules of the Ryokan, specially if it is larger and an established one.

If on the other hand, it's a local and small one and you got the room through a local person, and if you would not have been able to get it by yourself, you might be obliged to take dinner there just to make sure not to embarrass the person who got you the room.

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