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The Ryokan Kurashiki, Kurashiki, Japan

The Kurashiki is a classic ryokan, right in the heart of the Bikan district. Antiques abound, calm pervades the corridors and attentive staff seem to drift out of the shadows anticipating your every need. The ryokan has been converted from rice and sugar storehouses and oozes character. Previous guests include YoYo Ma and Jose Carreras. In keeping with the town’s trading heritage, the ryokan’s owners have not been afraid to introduce the occasional foreign influence, and most of the rooms feature a range of European and Japanese antique furniture. All rooms have a carpeted area with comfortable beds. It sounds an odd combination, but it succeeds in creating a wonderfully unique and atmospheric experience. Wake up early, enjoy breakfast in your tatami mat room and then walk the streets before the day trippers arrive.

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