What are some ryokans in Kyoto for someone interested in a unique cultural experience but not worried about staying in a posh/fancy place?

I'm travelling to Kyoto soon, and I would like to stay in a ryokan to absorb some Japanese culture. I don't want to spend too much money though, and I'm not very picky about the luxury of the hotel. I plan to explore the city during the daytime and return to the ryokan for the evening meal before heading back out to catch some of the nightlife.

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    It's less subjective now (yay!) but still too broad, as it's essentially asking for a list. I'm not sure how to narrow it down to make it answerable in our format... perhaps because the question is entirely out of my knowledge domain.
    – Flimzy
    Apr 30, 2014 at 20:36
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    A question which produces a short and stable list is generally fine. A question which produces a number of lists, all of which can be quite long, and none of which can be considered in any way complete isn't...
    – Gagravarr
    Apr 30, 2014 at 20:57
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    I don't see how my question falls into the category you've described. This question, for instance, seems identical in structure. Apr 30, 2014 at 20:59
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    @ChrisMueller Surely it's much more likely that a ryokan will close or move than a mountain will? Apr 30, 2014 at 22:34
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    @ChrisMueller it's not usually that useful to point to older questions - the focus of the site has shifted over time, especially during the beta period (until May 2013). I'd be specific about what experiences you're hoping for - that's usually the easiest way to avoid closing problems.
    – Mark Mayo
    May 1, 2014 at 0:24

1 Answer 1


First, if it's cheap, it's not a ryokan. You're welcome to dispute that, and some of the other answers to that question do (mostly by redefining what "ryokan" means), but I'm sticking to my view. Kyoto is particularly bad for "fake ryokan", because there are lots of people who want to stay in one without the pricetag, and that's how you end up with things like the "capsule ryokan" (which is at least mildly interesting)

So my recommendation to get a ryokan-like experience without a ryokan-like price is to stay at a temple: you get to sleep on tatami, bathe in an ofuro, enjoy a classic Japanese dinner and breakfast (vegetarian, which is why they're cheaper), and as a cherry on top you can (and should) attend the morning service if you want to. There are lots in and around Kyoto, and this site lists quite a few. Mount Koya is particularly good for this, although it's a bit of a hike from Kyoto.


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