One Key principle of Japanese culture can be summed up in the term ONKO CHISHIN. It refers to the process of learning and thoroughly understanding the old ways of doing things, then looking to them for fresh, new ideas. The concept comes from the Analects of Confucius, attributed to the Chinese philosopher(551-479BCE) and his followers. The three ryokan introduced here embody the principle, immersing guests in timeless craftmanship.
Over the centuries Japanese have drawn on the spirit of ONKO CHISHIN to build upon their traditions. For example, it is common in WAKA poetry to borrow words from famous poems to give one’s own verse deeper resonance. This is called honkadori.
There is a similar practice, known as utsushi, among painters, including those of the Kano school, founded in the late 15th century and the largest movement in the history of traditional Japanese art, and also the slightly later Rinpa school. Many artists have referenced distinguished pictures from an earlier age and brought elements of them into their own works.
The same sort of thing can be seen in crafts, traditional theater and dance, ikebana, and architecture.
Each generation learns the aesthetic and principles of its predecessors, then endeavors to preserve and build upon them. Thus, instead of just copying, each generation adds its own flavor and original ideas to ancient traditions, always seeking to enhance both depth of understanding and artistic excellence.
In this article we present a few architectural treasures now serving as ryokan establishments.