To prepare for your Japanese Onsen Ryokan experience, try reading Yukiguni by Yasunari Kawabata, a fiction novel of an onsen town, which was in fact written in a Japanese Onsen Ryokan, Takahata, in Nigata Prefecture, where he stayed for about 3 years in a same room.
It was a common practice for celebrities to stay at a Japanese Onsen Ryokan to forget the secular world.
As Japanese Onsen Ryokan is a Japanese style inn, Japanese Onsen Ryokan is a Japanese inn with natural hot spring bath. Japanese Onsen Ryokan is often times run by an okami, who is a lady general manager.
Nakai, lady workers, are assigned to each room who will be providing your meals and preparing your futon (floor-laid mattress bed). Because they give you one-on-one full attention, Japanese Onsen Ryokan is said to have high hospitality performance. For this reason, nakai are handed kokorozuke, similar to tipping. However, unlike tipping, properly wrapped kokorodzuke is given to the nakai discretely before they leave the room when guests are guided to the room as a sign of gratitude for their taking care of the whole stay. Kokorozuke is optional but used as a sign of courtesy and respect to those serving the guests.
Dinner and breakfast is included in order to produce a whole stay experience. Meals are served in the room so the food experience itself is every exclusive. Local and seasonal food is served to satisfy guest’s pallets. Of course, beer, sake and shochu tastes delicious after your first round of onsen bathing.
You will find that Japanese Onsen Ryokan is one of the few places where you can feel traditional Japan besides temples and shrines.