Meeting “crazy Tokyo” in the gorgeous Japanese town of Wakayama

For anyone hoping to return to Japan during “the Daikoku season,” the moment when the country’s intense cherry blossoms reopen to the world, Covid-19 can be the best time to do it. You’ll find terrific restaurants and services that consistently put out outstanding dining experiences, great glass-blowing, a wide array of activities and diverse accommodations (Voyage Village), and an increased understanding of local customs. Travel research is a must. You’ll want to find a daily taxi-ordering outlet, an atlas that shows the blossoms, travel posters and menus, and a tidy rack of Japanese dumplings. For its popular “cruso sushi tour,” Expedia Group arranges scenic walk-and-sushi outings. At Nakagawa Castle, the castle’s official gift shop, on the way to Miyakojima Dori you’ll also have a unique opportunity to buy an authentic samurai sword. If you don’t take the sword (check with the guidebook before you start) it’s good for souvenirs. Wakayama governor Masaaki Kawayama also recommends an excellent Inoasi Asakura River cruise as a relaxing evening out. But, of course, you’ll want to visit the actual cherry blossom cities, so research those too. EMBEWIKI (AKA MAPUTO) (C19) is the world’s fourth-busiest port of call for cruise ships, so if you’re planning a cruise you’ll want to visit on EMBEWIKI-C18 or bigger, if there’s room. Beyond the botanical beauty and abundant cultural attractions, there are plenty of cruise ship-worthy splurges, especially if you’re in the mood for either side of the trip. From a sleek, no-restroom-needed shower aboard a roundtrip cruise to Vakasu to area-based specialties, and not to mention the cutest-ever wine-and-rhubarb cake at Harada Gelateria, there’s plenty to look forward to. Highlights and snags Every year, hundreds of people will die or suffer terrible injury due to irresponsible cherry-blossom-related activity, so it’s a good idea to be aware of these issues, especially when you’re abroad in the growing “blossoms country.” (Watch out, too, for water, which is most definitely known to wash away your flowers.) Overall, the Daikoku season is a time for exploration and gathering contacts. But, given events related to the hokusai (“trees”) of the initial blossom days, you should watch out for climbs, cliff descents, and so on. As with the actual cherry blossoms, you may need to tailor activities to your needs. Admission policies can also differ from place to place. The best route is to visit a tourist agency or inform the staff of your intentions in advance. You’ll also want to prepare carefully for the transition from straight-laced Japan to the late, fun-loving European way of life (in fashion, at least). Take some local seasoning and discover your sexy side. Not to worry — the Little Paris company hosts a number of fascinating European master classes, while Western styles at Uniworld Boutique Collection hotels, including the newly-opened Bondi Bay, in Sydney and Phuket, are indeed sophisticated.

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