Sendai

With a population of one million, Sendai is the largest city in the Tohoku region and the political and economic centre of Japan’s northeast. Known as the “City of Trees,” Sendai is also the capital of Miyagi Prefecture and an ideal base for exploring Tohoku. The modern city of Sendai was founded around 1600 by Date Masamune, one of feudal Japan’s most powerful lords. Many of Sendai’s tourist attractions are related to Masamune and his family. The current compact city centre allows for easy access to dining and shopping options, while its samurai history is displayed in well-preserved historical sites and architectural treasures.

Group Attractions

  • Attractions
  • Dining
  • Experience
  • Omiyage

Zuihoden Mausoleum

Zuihoden is the sacred burial site of the feudal lords of the Date Clan, including Lord Masamune himself. Date Masamune moved to Sendai from northern Miyagi to consolidate his growing domain. Friends and foes called him the "One-eyed Dragon," a nickname he earned thanks to a childhood illness that resulted in the loss of his right eye. Both the magnificently decorated structure and the vibrantly coloured natural surroundings are a must-see. A museum beside the Zuihoden main building shows some of the personal artefacts of the Date family, and even some specimens of their bones and hair. (Image via Discover Sendai)

Activities: Mausoleum visit Fee: JPY 550 Time required: 1 hour

Osaki Hachimangu Shrine

This shrine constructed by the order of Lord Masamune in 1607, features resplendent decorations in vivid, gorgeous colours. The shrine's deity, Hachiman, is the Shinto god of war and considered to be a general guardian and protector of the city. The main building, which consists of the main hall (honden) and offering hall (haiden) joined under a common roof, is uniquely covered in black lacquer, gold leaf and brilliant colours. Some omikuji (fortunes sold by the temple for protection and good luck) are black to reflect the shrine's distinctive colouring. It is regarded as a masterpiece of this architectural style and designated as a National Treasure. (Image via Visit Miyagi)

Activities: Shrine visit Fee: Free Time required: 30-40 minutes

Aoba Castle (Sendai Castle Ruins)

Aoba Castle was built in 1600 by Date Masamune. In the last 400 years, the castle endured the anti-feudal fervour of the Meiji Period, a giant fire in 1882 and the carpet bombing of 1945. Now all that is left of the castle are remnants of the outer stone walls and a guard tower. The location's lookout onto the city below presently serves an aesthetic rather than military role, though a statue of Masamune, armour-clad and horseback, recalls the site's origins. Within walking distance from the castle are a few other sites of interest. A short walk down Mount Aoba's northern slope leads to the Sendai City Museum. The museum features relics of the Date clan and presents varying temporary exhibitions. (Image via Tohoku Kanko)

Activities: Museum visit, Photo stop Fee: JPY 700 (Aoba Castle Museum); JPY 460 (Sendai City Museum) Time required: 40 minutes-1 hour

Rinnoji Temple

Rinnoji was moved to various locations by the Date clan as they changed their place of residence before it finally settled in its current location when Lord Masamune moved to and started building the city of Sendai. Beyond the main hall of the temple is a beautiful Japanese garden and pagoda that are well worth visiting. Inside, visitors can walk along the various paths, admire the koi (carps), the three-storied pagoda and the well-tended trees, flowers and plants. There are also several benches for visitors to sit and relax as they take in the scenery. (Image via Discover Sendai)

Activities: Garden visit Fee: JPY 300 (Inner garden) Time required: 40 minutes-1 hour

Ichibancho Arcade

The covered mall connects several streets in the downtown area to create the largest arcade in the Tohoku region. The shopping area includes several different arcade malls and covers a T-shaped area along Ichibancho and Chuo-dori. Shops along the arcades range from the budget 100 yen chains to high-end fashion boutiques, with the full range of restaurants, clothing and souvenir stores in between. True to its nickname as “City of Trees,” the trees can also be found in this covered shopping area.

Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 30 minutes

Asaichi Market (Morning Market)

Said to be “Sendai’s Kitchen,” Asaichi is another shopping option that is full of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits, fresh fish and processed products of Sanriku that up and the crowds of eating places and many locals who visit for daily shopping. A few stalls sell prepared foods such as onigiri, while flower vendors have seasonal plants and cut flowers. The market is located on a small street, only about 100 meters in length and about 5 minutes walk from JR Sendai Station. (Image via Discover Sendai)

Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 30 minutes

Kokubuncho

Kokubuncho is the largest entertainment district throughout Tohoku. The area is composed of about 3,000 restaurants, Izakaya (Japanese style pubs), bars, nightclubs, etc. Kokubuncho is divided into three distinct zones. The first one with cheap food outlets, and pachinko shops. The next area is mostly occupied by salarymen (office employees), restaurants and bars are of better quality, slightly more expensive and generally playing a little more on the traditional Japanese restaurant side. Finally, there is the "pink zone" which is the part composed of girls bars, also commonly called "host or hostess clubs.” (Image via Discover Sendai)

Activities: Eating, Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 30 minutes

Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlet

Located in the lush green and elegant Izumi Park Town in Sendai, this outlet mall features a lineup of approximately 80 well-known brand shops from in and outside of Japan. Visitors can buy a variety of brand-name items at 25-65% off their full prices every day. This facility is inspired by the northeastern United States and has a very resort-like atmosphere. It is 30 minutes by car from JR Sendai Station. The neighbouring shopping mall Izumi Park Town Tapio also has a food court with a variety of restaurants, as well as a drug store. Both are connected by a bridge, so you can conveniently shop between both locations. (Image via Tohoku and Tokyo)

Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 30 minutes

Mitsui Outlet Park Sendai Port

Located between Sendai Airport and Matsushima is the Mitsui Outlet Park Sendai Port; the largest outlet shopping centre in the Tohoku Region. The outlet hosts over 120 stores and restaurants, including several large international name-brand stores, some selling their products at slightly lower prices than other retail stores in Japan. There is also a Ferris wheel and an amusement park, so it is perfect for those with children. The Sendai Umi-no-Mori Aquarium is also just a 10-minute walk away. (Image via Tohoku Kanko)

Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 30 minutes

Nearby Areas

Matsushima Bay, dotted with many islands covered with pine trees, is located approximately 30 km from Sendai. It is known as one of Japan’s three most scenic locations. Matsushima is a haven from the Pacific Ocean’s harsh waves and is also famous for its oyster farming.

Yamadera (literally means “mountain temple”) is a scenic temple located in the mountains northeast of Yamagata City. The temple grounds extend high up a steep mountainside, from where there are great views down onto the valley.

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