We would like to take the last day/night of our 4 days in Japan in mid-March and spend it at a Ryokan, probably in Kyoto. Thru frommers.com I found the Ryokan Assn. website http://www.ryokan.or.jp which is in English & Great, but I have NO IDEA which one to pick! Many that look wonderful have only Japanese webites. We would like to find the most authentic, classic, "old school"Ryokan with fabulous food (and possibly a hot spring) possible, butone that is also happy to host foreign tourists... Any suggestions? Thnaks-
Sorry but I'm not familiar with the ryokans specifically in Kyoto - we stayed at one in Hakone that was nice, unfortunately I couldn't even tell you the name! I just wanted to assure you that staying at a ryokan is a wonderful experience - for one night! It would be tough to do any more than that as a westernized tourist as the stay itself kind of overwhelms your sightseeing plans.
Hakone was an excellent place for the ryokan (we were there in the winter) because there wasn't much to do in the town and there were natural hot springs but we could feel free to enjoy the entire bathhouse experience and the long formal meals without missing out on any sightseeing time. It is an adventure to stay in one of these hotels, a very formal process of bathing, eating and sleeping. My husband and I were the only non-Japanese tourists in this particular ryokan so the bathing experience was an adventure - imagine trying to go through all of the ritual pre-cleansing with no idea what you are doing surrounded by a bunch of elderly and experienced Japanese women! And the food is also an adventure - I love, love, love Japanese food but the kaiseki meals we were served were not my favorite, flavor-wise. They are more interesting and educational to me, the way they are presented in many different courses of beautiful little dishes.
So, yes, absolutely stay in a ryokan - it is a great way to cap off your Japan adventure. I hope that somebody else can help you locate the perfect spot.