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Japanese inns offer an ‘authentic’ holiday

A trip along Japan’s Nakasendo highway unlocks the feudal past of this most modern of countries, the Observer reports.

The ancient Tokyo to Kyoto thoroughfare is studded with minshuku – traditional family-run inns which give the holiday maker an insight into Japanese life.

Travelling the Nakasendo road, the earthquake-proof walls, bright neon signs and plate-glass frontages of big-city skyscrapers are left behind – in favour of simple wooden frames, tatami mats and a range of attractive countryside settings.

Tourists in search of luxury, however, have the option of staying at a ryokan – large, high-class establishments which offer a more “glamourous” overnight stay.

However, minshuku owner Fujiwara Natsuko told the newspaper that a more authentically Japanese experience is offered by the simpler ‘bed and breakfast’ style hotels.

“In a ryokan you arrive, go into your room and that is it, you don’t get any communication with the people running the place, or other guests,” she commented.

“But in a minshuku you meet people. In Japanese there is a phrase, ‘kawaka sen’ – ‘to meet faces’. It is just friendlier.”

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