Here is a book review I wrote for JapanVisitor.com:
For Margaret Price, author of Classic Japanese Inns & Country Getaways, traditional Japanese inns (ryokan), are not just a place to stay while traveling the country, but a destination in their own right. The Japanese have a proud inn keeping tradition that dates back to the Edo period. Staying at a traditional Japanese inn is like immersing oneself into a facet of traditional Japanese culture that foreign travelers seldom see. Entering a classic Japanese inn is like stepping into a an oasis of tranquility, soothed by the soft light seeping through paper shoji screens and the elegant minimalism of tatami-floored rooms. The ryokan experience is worlds away from the staying in sterile, concrete block hotels with flickering fluorescent lighting that mar the landscape of modern Japan.
Almost all ryokan include dinner and breakfast along with the price of lodging, and many of the inns featured in the book are notable for the quality of their cuisine as well as their charming atmosphere and refined service. They are the perfect getaway destination for intrepid travelers searching for something off the beaten path, residents in Japan looking for a retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life, and for adventurous epicureans in quest of local delicacies in lush surroundings.
Classic Japanese Inns & Country Getaways contains a brief history of Japanese inns, a short introduction to inn architecture and gardens, and a good guide to inn etiquette and protocol. The book profiles inns across Japan in both urban and rural settings, and indicates whether or not English is spoken at a given inn. A handy list of Japanese phrases is included, but it might be easier to solicit the help of a Japanese-speaking friend when making reservations. All in all, Classic Japanese Inns & Country Getaways is a solid primer to the enchanting world of traditional Japanese inns.