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Classic Japanese Inns and Country Getaways (Origami Classroom) [Paperback]

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Item description for Classic Japanese Inns and Country Getaways (Origami Classroom) by Margaret Price...

Since Oliver Statler's best-selling chronicle of the classic Japanese inn immortalized the "inn experience," seeking out a traditional resort has become one of the cherished goals of those visiting Japan. Like England's engaging B&Bs, the refined taverns of Japan constitute one of the world's great traditions of inn-keeping. The tan tatami rooms, the soft light filtering through shoji screens, the epicurean banquets, the impeccable service-all of these are elements that make a visit to one of Japan's classic inns a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Yet, unbelievable as it may seem, until now there has never been a guide devoted to these world-class purveyors of Japanese hospitality. The reason is simple: to visit and appraise the best from among thousands of contenders would require endless research and a seemingly bottomless pocketbook. But columnist, translator, and travel writer Margaret Price has managed to combine business with pleasure to bring us, after years of effort, the first such guidebook.
From the $1,000-a-night fantasy weekend retreats where visiting celebrities from Chaplin to Clapton have stayed, to the $40-a-night hidden gems run by a kimono-clad innkeeper, Ms. Price has culled the best from a vast field with a discerning eye. What each inn provides is atmosphere, exotic cuisine, and tasteful decorations(tm) n other words, a special inn experience as enchanting and memorable as anything Japan has to offer.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 27, 1999
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770018738  
ISBN13  9784770018731  

Availability  0 units.

More About Margaret Price

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Margaret Price is associate professor of writing at Spelman College.

Margaret Price was born in 1969 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Oxford Brookes University, UK.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Travel > Asia > General
2Books > Subjects > Travel > Asia > Japan > General
3Books > Subjects > Travel > General > Food & Lodging > Hotels & Inns

Reviews - What do customers think about Classic Japanese Inns and Country Getaways (Origami Classroom)?

A wonderful resource--But consider these "caveats"  Mar 3, 2006
Margaret Price has provided a marvelous resource for westerners who visit Japan and wish to experience the elegance and charm of Japanese inns. But please be aware of the complications that I will outline in this review.

In spite of the following cautions, I would enthusiastically encourage all western readers to prepare themselves well, and then venture into this wonderful, almost magical experience of staying in traditional Japanese inns. The rewards will live forever in your memories.

It is easy to underestimate the cultural divide between traditional Japanese culture and the experience of the vast majority of westerners who visit Japan. That can range from actual fish heads floating in the soup served for your breakfast--less likely now, since Japanese innkeepers have become more "sensitive" to westerners' tastes and distates--to the embarassment caused by getting soap into the soaking tub in a Japanese bath. Or failing to recognize the difference between those slippers used throughout most of the inn and the toilet slippers that are never worn anywhere else.

To be sure, Japanese innkeepers are far more aware and sensitive to these cross-cultural issues than are most of their western guests, but that doesn't always protect us from making fools of ourselves.

Price-- Although the inns appear pricey by western standards, they cannot be compared to a stay in any western hotel--not even to "all-inclusive" resorts. Nearly all Japanese inns include several traditional Japanese meals in their daily rate, and those are presented in the most elegant fashion imaginable--nearly always in the intimacy of your own private tatami-floored bedroom. The tastes and textures might be unfamiliar, but these meals are highly prized as gourmet offerings by the Japanese guests who make up 95% of their clientele.

Be aware that there is a great difference between the traditional Japanese inn--a "ryokan"--and a traditional Japanese guest house--a "minshuku." The minshuku are less expensive, less elegant and less "personal." No meals in your room--everyone usually shares meals family style in a common dining area. That said, minshuku can be a marvelous and less expensive way to enjoy traditional Japan.

Now to some specific features of "Classic Japanese Inns." Inside the front cover, there is a "quick reference" for "Inn Etiquette." This is a GREAT starting point for the first-timer. Not completely sufficient, but a great start.

Each inn is listed with its name and address printed in Japanese characters ("kanji"), as well as in our "Roman" ABC alphabet (known in Japan as "Romaji"). That Japanese text is an essential aid for taxi drivers, and even for guides at town tourist centers, who might never recognize the westerner's mispronunciation of the inn's name and its location.

The brief descriptions of the inns and their surroundings are very good. We were able to compare a few of them with inns that we had actually visited during our years in Japan.

Most of the inns listed have two or three "shared" baths. In this volume, I have not yet found any (other than the "family" baths---"kazoku-buro") that are intended for adult males and females to share. And, of coures, the family baths are meant for a particular family--not for simultaneous use by multiple families. But a significant number of VERY traditional small inns--especially those in the mountains and in small hot springs communities--have outdoor baths ("rotenburo") that adults of both genders share. Of course, this experience requires a sophistication many westerners cannot easily manage (their great loss). There is nothing like communing with nature in a rotenburo with fellow guests of both genders and all ages (from smooth-skinned infants to well-wrinkled grandparents).

A very important word about making reservations. Unless you have some significant ability in speaking Japanese, do NOT attempt to make your reservations by telephoning the inn. Pronunciation errors can be deadly. For that reason, the appendix entitled "Helpful Japanese Phrases" should NOT be used by the neophyte tourist. Although this reviewer made numerous room reservations by telephone--and very successfuly--while living in Japan, I would never attempt it again until I had regained some of the fluency that I had when we last left that wonderful nation.

So, how does one make reservations for traditional inns? There are many Japanese travel agencies that will assist. The Japanese National Tourist Organization (JNTO) or the Japan Travel Bureau are starting points. In addition, there are a number of Japanese Web sites that invite westerners to make reservations. Many of the traditional inns belong to ryokan associations that will facilitate reservations, either by telephone or online.

The bottom line is that Margaret Price's book is a great resource, but doesn't really educate you to the critical complexities of crossing the cultural barriers in Japan. Does that mean that you shouldn't try? Definitely NOT. Just realize that it will take more preparation (and courage) than this volume provides.

As far as we are concerned, we can't wait to return to Japan and use this excellent book.
Inns are expensive but worth it!  May 19, 2004
I recently splurged on staying at two of the Inns in this book and I was impressed by two things: 1. How accurately the author described the particular Inns and 2. How well the book prepared me for the overall experience.
One warning: all of the inns detailed in the book are expensive by US standards, (as it appears most traditional Inns are). Especially considering we found that it was possible to find tourist hotels for less than US$100 a night. We combined four inexpensive hotel nights in Kyoto with two nights of staying in the more expensive Inns. Because Inns include two generous meals it balenced out the $300 a night cost. Staying in the Inns made us feel we experienced the "real" Japan. It is the part of our trip we remember the most foundly.
Our Itinerary: We spent four nights at the Kyoto Miyako Westin Hotel, then took a 3 hour train trip to Gero Onsen to stay at Yunoshima-kan and then the next day went up to Takayama to stay one night at Nagase Inn, both are detailed in the book. Nagase now takes fax reservations in English and the tourist office at Gero Onsen ( said they can help americans secure reservations at an Inn like Yunoshima-kan where they do not speak English.
I share this info because making reservations is the hardest part of planning a trip to a small traditional Inn. Once you get there it's worth it.
Beautiful book  Dec 11, 2000
This is a beautiful book to own if you like looking at pictures of traditional architecture and dreaming about nights in Japanese Inns. I've loaned it to a few friends and they all want to go to Japan now! I bought this book shortly before a trip to Japan and called a few of the listed places. None of the places had room on such short notice: none of them volunteered to speak English, either, so it might be an adventure if your Japanese isn't good.
An interesting "guide" book.  Apr 10, 2000
As one who visits Japan on a very strict budget, I found it enthralling to find out what it would be like to stay at some of these expensive inns. So much so, I have started saving just to experience one night of extravagance. Margaret Price describes beautifully the inns food,ambience and surrounding attractions as well as suggesting places to shop, things to buy and day itineraries. As well as this there are a small number of low cost ryokan recommended. There is a very useful glossary with handy phrases for bookings etc., as many of the places have no English. Language details are pointed out in the description. The maps are quite good considering the size of the area covered on the map

It is a pity that so many of the inns are well away from rail stations as for the casual traveller car transport is not a real option because of the language barrier with road signs. I think that better directions by bus from stations would improve the usefulness of the book.

Overall, an enjoyable read if you like to find out what it is like on the other side of the road. An interesting alternative to a normal guide book.


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