Ryokan Sawanoya

2–3–11 Yanaka, Tokyo, 110-0001, Japan

Paul Feinstein

A bit off the beaten path, Ryokan Sawanoya is a family-run Japanese inn with all the traditional trimmings. Here you’ll find clean rooms with tatami mats, an incredibly helpful staff, and a window into old-world Japan. If you’re a budget-conscious traveler who wants to have an authentic Japanese experience, you can’t go wrong here.

If you want to explore the area, make use of the ryokan’s bike rental. For only 300 Yen you can take the bikes for a stroll for 24-hours.


All rooms are Japanese style with tatami mats and sleeping cushions on the floor. Only two of the rooms have en suite bathrooms (so book early if you want that), and all come with air conditioning and tea.


There are only two rooms with bathrooms, but these come with large cozy tubs and separate showers. Communal baths have either a hinoki wood tub or circular hot tub and look out over a small garden. The Ryokan has helpful instructions posted on the door if you’re unsure of Japanese bathing protocols.


The small lobby is awash in tourist information, guide books, and pamphlets all designed to help travelers explore. A few wooden tables are set up for the ryokan’s simple western-style breakfast.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to experience a Lion Dance performance put on by the Sawa family in the lobby.

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The Sawa family serves a small western breakfast of eggs and toast for about 300 Yen. Coffee and tea are free and guests have communal use of a large refrigerator.

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Getting Around

The ryokan is in a very residential part of town with narrow winding streets. It’s walkable, but mind the blind corners with cars. The closest subway station is about a 7-minute walk at the Nezu Station. From there you can shuffle about the city with ease.


Because the area is mostly residential, you’ll need to hoof it for good meals. If you want to find some of the best (and biggest gyoza) in Ueno, head to Shoryu (20-minute walk). If you’re craving soba noodles instead, close by Shoryu is Yabu Soba (20-minute walk) which has been serving up mouthwatering noodles for more than 100 years.


Beer lovers should head to Kirin City (22-minute walk) where expert bartenders have perfected the art of pouring (takes forever though!).


Staying in a ryokan is a must-do for any tourist in Japan, and Sawanoya is a great way to experience the traditional style of a Japanese inn. The Sawa family runs everything and will welcome you with a smile and help with any and all tourist needs. If you’re looking for traditional hotel amenities, you won’t find much here, but that’s sort of the point. Sleeping on tatami mats and bathing in an authentic hinoki tub is enough to take you back to Edo era.


10 rooms, 2 with bath
Breakfast Yes
Lunch No
Dinner No
Bar No
Cafe No
Room Service No


Phones: 03-3822–2251

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