The Japanese word “shizuka” means tranquility, and it is this very feeling which we hope will stay with you from the start of your stay to the very end – and indeed well beyond.
The word “ryokan” refers to the highest level of traditional Japanese accommodation, offering an unsurpassed standard of service and comfort.
Our aim is to envelop you in an atmosphere of peace and calm and provide you with impeccable service throughout your stay.
The following background may perhaps assist you to more fully understand and appreciate the Shizuka Ryokan experience.
Something out of the ordinary
When you enter Shizuka Ryokan, you step into another world. The beauty of a Japanese interior lies not just in its uncluttered elegance, but also in appreciation of the materials and workmanship which have combined in its creation. The very delicacy of tatami matting or a papered shoji screen necessitates that we be mindful and aware of these furnishings, thus echoing the essence of traditional Japanese philosophy – awareness of our surroundings and of the beauty which lies in even the humblest of objects.
Leave your shoes and your cares at the door
At Shizuka Ryokan, as in all traditional Japanese inns or homes, guests are expected to take off their shoes in the genkan or entrance vestibule. With this custom, the Japanese acknowledge the movement from exterior to interior space and symbolically leave the dirt and disharmony of the outside world behind. For ease and convenience, we suggest that our guests take advantage of the slippers we provide for walking in non tatami-matted areas. Due to the delicate nature of the material, neither shoes nor slippers should be worn on the tatami matting. We also ask that guests use only the legless chairs and cushions provided and refrain from putting the cane chairs on the tatami.
The beauty of simplicity
It is said that traditional Japanese décor, free of the clutter and busyness of most modern homes leaves space for the spirit to expand. Each of the features commonly found in a traditional Japanese interior combine to make a living space that is truly beautiful in its simplicity.
The simple beauty of the traditional Japanese decor soothes the senses. Delicate cups of fragrant green tea refresh the spirit. Relax against silken cushions and feel your cares float away.
The soft tatami matting is gentle underfoot as you cross to a panel of delicate shoji screens which slide open to reveal the serene beauty of your private Japanese garden. Here water flows softly and time passes slowly.
At night a new surprise awaits when, in traditional ryokan fashion, staff replace the tables and chairs in your room with authentic Japanese futon bedding. Placed directly on the tatami matted floor, your futon enables you to experience the centuries old tradition of Japanese style slumber.
Soak up the simple charms and timeless beauty of the ryokan experience as you luxuriate in your ensuite bath. At Shizuka Ryokan, we provide every luxury our guests need to indulge in the sensual delights of the bath. Mineral bath salts, scented soaps, soft candle light and deep spa baths all ensure a truly indulgent experience.
Savour the crystal clear flavours of our traditional Japanese cuisine and surrender to the indulgence of our wide selection of spa and wellness services.
On a practical level, all guestrooms offer the following features:
- Hydronic heating
- Air conditioning
- Ensuite with toilet and basin
- Double size bath and separate shower
- Soap, shampoo and toiletries
- Soft cotton yukata robes
- Mini-bar refrigerator
- Kettle with selection of teas and coffee
- Radio CD player with selection of ambient CDs
- Your choice of queen and single size futon bedding
You will encounter many of the hallmarks of traditional Japanese décor at Shizuka Ryokan. For those interested, the cultural background of some of these design features is detailed below.
This traditional Japanese flooring evolved over a long period, first beginning as a thin, easily folded rice straw mat on which people sat or slept. Over time, additional layers of straw and a soft reed cover were added to make the tatami mat a refreshingly sensuous carpeting for sitting, sleeping and walking on. Shoes and even slippers must not be worn on the tatami as the delicate reed cover is very delicate and can be quite easily damaged.
Mimicking the alters of Zen monasteries, the tokonoma or decorative alcove in ancient times was the privilege of only the samurai and selected merchants who used the recess to display the highly valued art objects they imported from China. Then as now, painted silk scrolls were hung on the wall of the alcove and an ikebana arrangement of fresh flowers was positioned on the wooden plinth which formed the base of the tokonoma.
Choosing objects to display in the tokonoma has always been a painstaking task. In contrast to the western tradition of leaving decorations in a room unchanged for years, the decorative displays in the tokonoma will change according to the season, the personality and interests of the guests of honour and the nature of the social occasion.
These cedar wood latticed screens traditionally papered with mulberry leaf washi paper were originally introduced to Japan from China and were used not only to partition rooms, but to mark the division between interior and exterior space. The opaque quality of the washi paper creates a softly diffused light and often a tree or shrub will be strategically positioned in the garden so that its outline will appear in silhouette against the shoji screen – once again combining the beauty of nature and the workmanship of man to form an exquisite work of art.
This enclosed verandah evolved as the eaves of the traditional Japanese home were extended to provide protection for the delicate rice paper shoji screens which were often used as exterior walls. Like the genkan, the engawa forms a transitional point between interior and exterior space and offers the perfect vantage place from which to sit and appreciate the beauty of your private tsuboniwa garden.
The courtyard garden or tsuboniwa uses rhythms and patterns to reproduce and symbolise those of the landscape in the world outside. Thus, a large rugged mountain is symbolized by a rock, white gravel forms a sea and a spray of bamboo becomes a forest. Garden stones and trees are laid out asymmetrically to suggest the rugged wilderness of nature and the choice and placing of every object is governed by the ancient Japanese faith of Shinto, which views the world and everything in it, as infused with the primeval forces of nature.
Many of the private gardens at Shizuka Ryokan feature tsukubai. The tsukubai or water basin is one of the many contributions of the tea masters to Japanese garden design. Guests were expected to enter the tea room pure in mind and body. To this end, the tea master provided a garden to relax the spirit and a pitcher of water for hand washing. The pitcher developed into the tsukubai – the low height of which helped induce humility among those about to attend the tea ceremony by making them stoop while washing. The name eminates from the word tsukubai “to bend or crouch”.
In Japan, the ritual of the bath is an age old tradition, the origin of which is closely linked with the ancient religion of Shinto which associated physical cleanliness with moral virtue. Indeed throughout the centuries, the Japanese have treated the act of bathing as a ritual of purification – a process that cleanses not just the body, but the mind and spirit as well.
The delicious lassitude that overcomes the bather’s spirit as he or she sits long and happy in a hot tub fosters a sense of generous tolerance. Along with relieving the pain of physical wounds or aching muscles, the bath also dispels the disorders of an uneasy mind, replacing them with a sense of calm and harmonious integration. Anger and frustration disappear and one’s spirit returns to what must have been the peaceful innocence of the womb. As numerous sayings have proclaimed, in the bath not only do the Japanese wash their body, they cleanse their soul.
As part of the bathing ritual, the Japanese cleanse themselves before they enter the bath. Sitting on low wooden stools, the body is thoroughly soaped and rinsed and only then will they enter the bath itself and sleep themselves in its calming waters. At Shizuka Ryokan, we provide every luxury our guests may need to indulge in the sensual delights of the bath. Wooden bathing stools, scented soaps and deep baths all ensure a truly indulgent and sensual experience.