I'm going to Tokyo this month on business but would like to fit in some culture. Do you have any suggestions?
—S.E., VIA E-MAIL
December 14 is the Gishi-sai festival, honoring 47 18th-century samurai who avenged their master's death. Costumed warriors parade down Sotobori Street to Sengakuji Temple (2-11-1 Takanawa, Minato-ku), where the ceremony culminates in traditional drumming. The view from the newly opened Mori Art Museum (6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku; 81-3/6406-6100; www.mori.art.museum)—located at the top of the 53-story Roppongi Hills Tower—is almost as interesting as its inaugural exhibit, which includes everything from a Chinese Bodhisattva to a neon piece by Bruce Nauman. The Lost in Translation package at the Park Hyatt Tokyo (800/233-1234; www.tokyo.park.hyatt.com; five-day package for two $4,527) will give you a taste of cinematic culture: in addition to a shiatsu massage, use of the gym and spa, and one nightly cocktail at the hotel's now iconic New York Bar, each guest is presented with a map of the sites featured in Sofia Coppola's film (including the karaoke bar where Bill Murray sings Roxy Music's "More Than This"). The only thing missing is a contract deal with Suntory whiskey.
Can you recommend a stylish, historic B&B in New Orleans?
—D. M., GARDINER, N.Y.
Built in 1858, the opulent Greek Revival Magnolia Mansion (2127 Prytania St.; 888/222-9235 or 504/412-9500; www.magnoliamansion.com; doubles from $125) has been the setting for Jazzfest soirées, yet it still has an intimate feel (especially when you're strolling through the quiet courtyard surrounded by oak and magnolia trees). If you're looking for something a little less Gone with the Wind, the recently renovated La Maison Marigny (1421 Bourbon St.; 800/570-2014 or 504/948-3638; www.lamaisonmarigny.com; doubles from $129), just outside the French Quarter in the artsy Faubourg Marigny district, has four high-ceilinged rooms done up in bright modern colors. The 19th-century mahogany beds are covered with handmade linens created by a local designer. Maison Perrier (4117 Perrier St.; 888/610-1807 or 504/897-1807; www.maisonperrier.com; doubles from $120), located in the Garden District, was rumored to be a brothel at the turnof the last century. The only vestiges of that tawdry time are the feminine names of each of its 16 elegant rooms, such as Jasmine, Claudette, Desiree, and Ruby.
Our dachshund, Rusty, has never been on a plane. What can we do to make his first coast-to-coast flight trouble-free?
—G.H., PORTLAND, MAINE
Until Companion Air (866/359-6973; www.companionair.com)—the first airline dedicated to flying pets and their owners—launches nationwide next year, you'll have to fly a regular domestic airline. Most carriers still allow small pets to ride in the cabin, as long as they are in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. (Be sure to find out whether your airline counts Rusty as one of your two carry-on allowances.) Since airlines restrict the number of animals per flight—usually two are permitted in the main cabin, one in first class—make sure you reserve a spot for your pet when buying your tickets. This is also a good time to find out what health certificates and immunizations your airline requires. Most want proof that your pet is up-to-date on both rabies and distemper vaccinations; however, those regulations vary from state to state (check with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more information at 800/545-8732; www.aphis.usda.gov/ac). Finally, to avoid an unwanted mess, don't feed your pet for four to six hours before takeoff. If you have a morning flight, Dr. Deirdre Chiaramonte, a vet at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, suggests giving him half his regular breakfast two to three hours before departure.
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