The traditional ryokan

From Dreaming Spies:

Fortunately, Miss Sato’s lectures had prepared me for the accommodations: stark expanse of pristine straw mats, one wall of wooden cupboards, a niche holding a narrow vase with a single branch of cherry blossoms, and a low wooden table with round silk cushions tucked under three of its sides.

Room without bed copy

Travelling to Japan in 2012, one of our goals was to see the more rural areas. Well, we certainly got what we wished for, when one day we drove hours and hours over mountainous terrain, seeing not one human being during all that time. Coming down out of the hills in late afternoon, we stumbled across a treasure: a traditional ryokan or inn, the kind of place with tatami floors, multiple sets of slippers (main door, bathroom door, showers, etc) and an onsen (hot mineral springs bath) perched on the mountainside above. When we left our rooms (wearing the inn’s cotton yukata kimonos and its hallway slippers) to investigate the baths, my room looked like the above picture. When we came back again, my sitting room (kneeling room?) looked like this:

Room with bed copyAnd when Russell remarks on the gravel with which her pillow is stuffed? This was the place I first met the Japanese pillow—this one had buckwheat on one side and something marginally softer on the other.

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8 days until Dreaming Spies! Other posts about writing and researching the book can be seen here, or you can read a long excerpt here

You can pre-order a signed copy from Poisoned Pen Books or Bookshop Santa Cruz, and unsigned or e-books from IndiebooksAmazon/Kindle, or Barnes & Noble/Nook.

My upcoming events are here.

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  1. Merrily Taylor on February 9, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Wow, what an experience – and useful for the book! The room is beautiful and simple, but comfortable? Might take some adjustment for a Westerner. I know it would take me some effort to get up and out of that bed…as to pillows, I remember my first trip to France in the 1970’s, when I encountered (and disliked) the French bolster pillows. Most nights I took the pillow off the bed and just put my head on the mattress!

  2. Judith M on February 10, 2015 at 7:47 am

    On my first trip abroad ( to Italy) I found a buckwheat pillow in my room – very different. However I was so exhausted that I can’t remember any difficulty falling asleep.

    to LK: thank you so much for these posts. The extra background is enchanting and tantalizing – I can’t wait to open Dreaming Spies!

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