Except for maybe eating sushi from a vending machine in Tokyo while dressed as Toad and about to visit a sumo wrestling bout, visiting a ryokan is about the most Japanese thing you can do.
Ryokans are more than just a place to sleep – they’re an opportunity to get a taste of traditional Japanese life and hospitality – think tatami floors, futon beds local cuisine and Japanese-style baths called onsens.
Onsens are geothermal springs where people go to recuperate and rejuvenate. They are almost always clothing not optional – yep, you go into these absolutely starkers.
This might feel weird to begin with, but becomes pretty normal after about five minutes (which is probably weirder in itself).
Magoroku Ryokan in Akita is set among the mountains, and might be one of the most picturesque places to chill out at in the country. In wintertime, snow surrounds the outdoor hot spas.
It can be tricky getting off the beaten track in Japan, but Akita is certainly just that. It’s in the far north-west of the country, so you don’t have to deal with the hordes of crowds that come with being further south, which in turn means not dealing with hordes of naked people when you’re in the onsen.