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General Living

Ryokan in the City
If you have ever had the opportunity to travel throughout Japan, chances are you would have stayed at a ‘Ryokan’; a traditional Japanese inn. Popular outside of the city, Ryokan are usually found scattered around the countryside in small villages or medium sized towns. It was therefore by luck I happened across “Petit Ryokan Ichifuji”, a small but beautifully maintained inn located in the center of Nagoya. As I approached the beautifully presented entrance (after first making my way down a lane straight out of a Japanese story book) I could feel a warm vibe, a feeling reminiscent of going to grandma’s house and knowing there are goodies a-plenty inside.

After removing my shoes and replacing them with slippers, as is customary at any Japanese residence, I was ushered into the tea room (doubling as a common room where customers can mingle if they so desire), where the land lady, Mrs. Yoko Ishida kindly provided me with a well-needed glass of ice tea and explained her policy for when guests arrive, “I am really happy to see guests from all over the world. When people arrive at Ichifuji I want them to feel as if they are stepping into their second home; the last thing anyone wants to do is start filling in forms whilst grappling with their luggage. That’s why it is important to me to welcome guests with some of my special tea and a smile while they take a load off and spend some time just relaxing. I can’t speak English very well but language difficulties can be overcome by simply expressing feelings through gestures and actions. I think that not worrying about language difficulties and simply trying to communicate in a respectful way is the key to providing our guests with lasting memories for everyone, including my husband (Ichifuji’s owner) and I.”
Yoko’s dedication to her guests really shined through upon her admission that she sometimes accompanies her guests to the subway station to say ‘goodbye’.
“I hate saying goodbye. I often cry but I believe our guests will remember us because I remember all of our guests.”
After I finished my iced tea, Yoko’s husband, Mr. Tomiyasu Ishida insisted that he take me on a tour of his ryokan.
Ducking through the narrow wooden corridors I found myself being led through a maze that might have required some time to get out of without the aid of my guide. To the left and right of the beautifully polished wooden floor lie streams of white pebbles which add and nice counterpoint to the dim, lantern lit walkways. Arriving at one of the rooms I was only a little surprised to find a very simple and traditional tatami (straw mat floor) room. The tastefully decorated room was far from being sparse and in fact the only thing that seemed to interrupt the sense of peace was the presence of a flat screen TV; well I guess the late night comedy shows here have become quite an addiction of mine.

Now, the traditional Japanese way of sleeping isn’t for everyone and for those guests, Ichifuji has a very nice western style room to cater for your needs (see photo). This room was extremely inviting and I couldn’t blame anyone for taking this option after a hard day of exploring Nagoya.
After taking a quick tour of the rooms available, Mr. Ishida showed me one of the center pieces of Ichifuji, the guest bath. Made with the exacting care of a highly skilled professional the bath beckons the weary traveler; the perfect present to oneself after trundling all over town.

It is easy to forget that, in the heart of downtown Nagoya, Ichifuji is part of a very modern, very noisy city. It is literally an authentic piece of the Showa era. The current Ichifuji was established 60 years ago and remains largely unchanged; a survivor from the horror of WWII and the rush of building and rebuilding; a worm hole in the rapidly changing face of Japans urban environment. With such a rich history, convenient location and fine attention to the upkeep of the inn I was expecting the price of staying here to be something that a person getting around on a shoe string budget couldn’t afford. I was pleasantly surprised at the room rates however, which won’t do your purse any more damage than staying in one of those smoke stained, backwater business hotels. Not only that, but a light breakfast is included with the room charge and by light I mean, breakfast bread, a drink of your choice, salad and yogurt; easily enough to get even the most energy consuming individual through till lunchtime.
After talking some more with the owners, I learned that part of the feeling generated around Ichifuji comes from the local residents. Although Mr. Ishida spent some time lamenting about the frequency of calls from his neighbours, which usually start with “I have some lost foreigners here, are they guests of yours?”, the close-knit and extremely friendly nature of the ‘locals’ really adds a special touch to the lure of this petit Japanese style inn.

Leaving Ichifuji to continue my adventure was a little sad but reflecting on what Yoko had said, “For our guests I hope to be like a forget-me-not flower”, I had indeed found another wonderful piece of Japan to remember with fondness.

For more information check out the Petit Ryokan Ichifuji Inn Business Portal Listing here
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Ishida

A special ‘Thank you’ from the Land Lady

Dear guests,
I enjoy seeing the tall skies of autumn as the hustle and bustle dies down in October, 2005.

After successfully promoting environmental awareness from the 25th of March, the Aichi International has concluded. During this time we were fortunate enough to have many guests from around the world. I would like to express my warmest thanks for choosing Ichifuji out of all the possible places to stay in Japan. We are but humble innkeepers but are overjoyed at all of your compliments and kindness. We appreciate every meeting with our guests and will treasure these memories as surely each and every one of you gave us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to share our piece of Japan. You are forever in our hearts and minds.
We look forward to meeting you again. Thank you very much for choosing the Ichifuji Inn.


Yoko Ishida
Ichifuji Inn Land Lady