A charming ryokan in the middle of the metropolis
It's not every day that one finds a charming ryokan in the middle of the metropolis. For this type of traditional accommodation, people usually travel to quiet onsen towns and villages around Japan. But Shoryukan is in the heart of Tokyo, a few minutes walk from Ochanomizu station, surrounded by busy commuters, yet once you enter, the city suddenly falls in silence. And then Shoryukan opens up to you, the staff ready to help, and every detail carefully thought out. From washi paper signs to a portable shrine from the Kanda festival, and to the elegant dragons popping out around the hotel, and in the hotel's name – ShoRYUkan. “Ryu” means a dragon and it's a wordplay on RYOkan, a traditional Japanese lodging. Now that you're in on that joke, Shoryukan has already become your friend.
Hotel and Facilities
Once you learn this hotel was built in the Showa period, you start understanding its powerful traditional gravity, with every element that makes a hotel a proper Japanese ryokan. But intermingling with that, is a modern Japanese design, subdued and elegant, adhering to earthy tones and wood, but at the same time new and fresh. This is thanks to the 2009 renovation, after which Shoryukan has been welcoming many guests.
Ochanomizu Hotel Shoryukan has rooms of different sizes and styles, affordable for travelers on all kinds of budgets. We stayed on the 5th floor in a spacious Japanese-style room, bathed in sunlight by day. Sencha tea and yokan traditional sweets await on the low tables, while you slip in the comfortable yukata dress provided and enjoy every second and every sip. Add to that sliding shoji paper doors back and forth and sleeping on a fluffy futon, these rooms check all important boxes for a real ryokan experience.
The hotel's big gender-separated baths are in the basement, where one can also find a library of manga and art collections, games like shogi, dubbed the Japanese chess, free massage chairs and vending machines for drinks. Unlike many other ryokans, Shoryukan's hot baths are open the whole night, a perk great for busy Tokyoites and visitors with ambitious itineraries, who won't have to run to catch the onsen open last minute.
For a private soak, some rooms have a balcony Rotenburo, an open-air bath. Our Rotenburo was made of wood, more true to the older Edo period roots of hot bath facilities, and bathing in it you can look at the moon and stars.
Jazz it up!
Jazz Cafe & Bar “Olympus!” is a perfect fit with Shoryukan, both oldie, but goldie, with a modern twist and a welcome serenity. It's part of the hotel, but also open to non-staying guests and transforming in a breakfast lounge in the morning. After that it's lunchtime and finally bar time, hours full of jazz, melting in the room as if honey. Jazz bars as a concept have started in Japan, and are meant for listening to jazz records. Olympus jazz bar plays their 3,000 records on vintage players that are the best in the world, connected to groovy Olympus speakers from the 1960s, hence the name of the bar.
While flipping through art books, I got a hold of the guest book and found pages full of praise and love by previous guests, and I found myself agreeing with them. Hotel Shoryukan is a great place to experience a truly Japanese stay, to soak in the hot onsen, and still have all of Tokyo at your disposal. It's a great getaway and a treat for Tokyoites as well. Above all, it's an excellent place to escape both real time and real space, and in that way, it's something akin to magic.
Zoria is a professional writer and published poet, currently working as a travel & culture journalist in Tokyo. She is also a photography enthusiast, capturing daily moments with any camera that is available at the moment, a smartphone, or on 35 mm film. She is multilingual, polymath, curious person, spending most of her time traveling, and sometimes writing half-fictional stories of Tokyo.