When traveling in Japan I like to stay in ryokans, a type of traditional Japanese inn that originated in the Edo period. Breakfast and dinner are usually included in the ryokan price so even though it may seem expensive it actually is a deal. You have the benefit of experiencing a traditional Japanese room with tatami mats, futons and sometimes a traditional tub. Meals consist of Japanese cuisine known as kaiseki, which features seasonal and regional specialties. Ryokan owners are welcoming and can offer you pointers on out-of-the-way sights. In Nara I asked my host if there were any unusual sights to see. He sent me to a hardware store where the owner had a small history museum in the back and a 17th century home of a famous writer. I never would have found these on my own as they were unmarked. Truly an insider's guide which enhanced my visit!