As beautiful as traditional ryokans or inns in the Japanese countryside can be, they are sometimes intimidating, at least to my wife and me. There are procedures and rules known to most of their clients but not to us -- and reading about them goes only so far once you've actually arrived at the front door.
Decades ago I wrote for a magazine whose publisher had difficulty paying his writers - specifically, paying them in cash. He was, however, good at bartering advertising space for goods and services and passing the swag on to those of us who were willing to accept payment in kind. This system enabled Jackie and me to stay in hotels we could never have afforded, such as the Dorchester in London, the Imperial in Tokyo and the George V in Paris (where, unforgettably, our bill for extras - presented with a smile - came to exactly one franc: for a phone call).
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