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Behind every good Japanese inn is an 'okami-san'

Traditional hostelries rely on the centuries-old custom of female bosses

For Sachiko Nakamichi, being the okami-san -- or "female boss" -- at Beniya Mukayu means looking after every detail at the ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn. (Courtesy of Beniya Mukayu)

TOKYO -- Akemi Nishimura enters the library of Hiiragiya, one of Japan's iconic ryokan, or traditional Japanese inns, with a reserved bow to her guest. She glides the translucent shoji door closed and sits smoothing an elegant kimono as an assistant serves us tea. Nishimura is an okami-san, the unassuming proprietor and general manager of her establishment in Kyoto.

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