The City of Sendai blends an abundance of nature and the remnants of an historic castle town with the vibrancy of a large city, and is known as ‘The City of Trees’.
A sales point of Sendai is the variety of convenient ways to get to the city.
In addition to the convenience of Sendai being only 100 minutes from Tokyo on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) there are regular domestic flights to major cities, an expressway and ferry services connecting Sendai nationally.
Internationally we are only 65 minutes by air from Narita International Airport, 75 minutes from Chubu International Airport, 70 minutes from Sapporo’s Shin Chitose Airport and 80 minutes from Kansai International Airport. It takes only a little over two and a half hours to Narita International Airport by Shinkansen and Narita Express.
Sendai International Airport connects us to the world offering 18 regular flights on 5 routes to Taipei, Shanghai, Peking, Seoul and Guam.
Lord Date Masamune, the founding head of the local feudal clan ordered the construction of Sendai Castle, also known as Aoba Castle, in 1601. Not long after that, Tsunenaga Hasekura was dispatched to Europe on a learning expedition, Ishinomaki Port was opened and other large business ventures were developed. The castle town flourished. Lord Date Masamune was largely influenced by the somber splendor of the Momoyama Culture of the 1500’s such as opulent interiors and architecture.
There are many gorgeous historic spots commissioned by Date Masamune and built by the greatest maestros of the time throughout the city. These include the national treasure Osaki Hachimangu Shrine, Mutu Kokubunji Yakushido Temple and Zuihoden, the mausoleum constructed for Masamune as a dying wish.
Statue of Lord Date on Horseback
Osaki Hachimangu Shrine, a national treasure
Sendai Toshogun Shrine
§Nature and Scenic Beauty
Another charm of Sendai is the beauty of the changing seasons which will captivate you any time of year. The Hirose River flows through the center of the city and its banks are still abundant with nature. The stunning cityscape of zelkova trees lining the streets, the symbol of the City of Trees, changing with the seasons will soothe the hearts of those who visit.
Within thirty minutes to an hour by car of the city are the areas of Akiu, Sakunami and Izumi. In autumn the gorges are most beautiful with a bright brocade woven by the colors of the leaves.
In December, 2015 the Tozai Subway Line was opened. The Tozai Line passes through the city center linking Aobayama in the west to the manufacturing and agricultural regions in the Sendai Port area to the east, making it easier to visit historic spots and tourist sites comfortably and conveniently.
Jogi Nyorai Pagoda
Sendai is an amazing city where various events are held throughout the year.
Sendai Aoba Festival is held in spring and features a parade of warriors and decorated floats as well as Sparrow Dance performances around the city center. In summer, one of the Tohoku region’s three major festivals, Sendai Tanabata Festival, is celebrated and the city center is adorned with colorful Tanabata decorations.
Jozenji Street Jazz Festival is a music festival that takes place each September. The whole city center becomes a stage and many bands perform, filling the City of Trees with music.
Winter tradition includes Sendai Hikari no Pageant – Sendai Light Pageant. The symbol of Sendai, the 160 zelkova trees lining Jozenji Street, shine with magical illumination. A specialty of the New Year is the ‘first sale of the year’ event.
The vibrant city hosts a number of events throughout the seasons.
Sendai Aoba Festival
Sendai Tanabata Festival
Jozenji Street Jazz Festival
Sendai Hikari no Pageant Illumination
§Onsen Hot Springs
Hot springs are also recommended in Sendai, surrounded by rich nature.
Akiu Onsen, with a proud history of 1500 years, can be counted as one of three best imperial hot springs and was loved by the Date clan.
There are many places to visit and things to see such as the long-established inns lining the spa town streets, nearby Akiu Otaki– one of three great waterfalls in Japan and Rairai Gorge, a beautiful canyon that reaches depths of 20 meters.
Sakunami, is an onsen town standing on the road to Yamagata on the outskirts of Sendai. The town is lined with inns taking pride in their baths with good for skin qualities and known for their skin beautifying effect. It is possible to enjoy an open air bath while enjoying the view of Hirose River.
Akiu Hot Spring
Akiu Otaki Waterfall
Sakunami Hot Spring
Sendai has been known as a rice growing district since ancient times and is the Tohoku regions’ premier gourmet center.
Sendai traditions as well as its people, skills and spirit have nurtured many local flavors which are known as ‘Dateuma’ – delicious Sendai dishes. The city is now famous nationwide for its grilled ox tongue cuisine, and the city is dotted with numerous restaurants where you can enjoy the taste of the local gourmet.
In addition, you can experience a variety of fresh seafood throughout the seasons from the neighboring nationwide famous fishing harbours of Shiogama and Ishinomaki. ‘Sendaizukedon’ is a recommended dish of various seafood on a bed of Miyagi rice.
A classic souvenir is Sasakamaboko (bamboo leaf shaped fish paste), said to have been derived from the bamboo of Lord Date Masamune’s family crest of sparrows in bamboo. You can enjoy a variety of flavours unique to each of its stores.
You can also find nationally designated traditional crafts such as ‘Sendai Tansu’ which are wooden chests of drawers made from zelkova showing off the wood grain. They are loved because they are elaborately crafted by discerning craftsmen.
Grilled Beef Tongue
Sendai Zukedon, fresh fish on rice
Zunda Mochi Rice Cake
Spring in Sendai comes a little later than other regions. Cherry blossoms usually start to blossom on or around the 10th of April and it usually takes six days for them to blossom fully. It is also not unusual to still be wearing a light coat until the middle of April.
As the end of the month draws near the weather warms up and the number of warm days increases. The new green leaves of the beginning of summer are beautiful, especially the zelkova trees that line Aobadori and Jozenji Streets and this is why Sendai is called the City of Trees.
After the end of the rainy season, it becomes the festival season in Tohoku. Sendai Tanabata Festival is held from August 6th to the 8th each year. Sendai is known as a place easy to spend the summer.
The trees change color to autumn hues from late October to early November. The temperature also drops considerably at the end of October. The difference in temperature between night and day intensifies and it is a good idea to carry something extra to put on. This is a perfect time to take a drive to Akiu and Sakunami Hot Springs while enjoying the autumn colors of the trees.
Sendai Pageant of Light, the charming tradition in December of decorating the zelkova trees with illumination marks the arrival of full-fledged winter. Sendai has relatively little snow and is warmer than the other regions in Tohoku. Even so, the roads do get icy so you need to take care not to slip and fall. Special snow tyres are required on cars when driving. February is the coldest month in Sendai. In March the temperature gradually begins to rise and spring comes once again.
Osaki Hachimangu Cherry Blossoms
Izumigatake Ski Slope