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Travel Guide to Sendai, Japan

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The city of Sendai, located in the Miyagi Prefecture, is the biggest in the Tohoku part of Honshu Island in Japan. Less famous than other cities in Japan, Sendai is located just two hours away from Tokyo. For those who have Tokyo on their bucket list of destinations, paying a visit to Sendai's vibrant and bustling city is highly recommended. The abundance of natural beauty has caused the modern metropolis of Sendai to be notably dubbed "The City of Trees ."It is speckled with picturesque landscapes, towering sacred mountains, and small hot spring towns. Home to a million people, the dynamic city of Sendai is lauded for its legendary history and irresistible gastronomical scene.


For those visiting Sendai, the repertoire of galleries, observation towers, and museums are great attractions that have garnered immense fame and popularity. Besides these attractions, the host of mausoleums and castles gives Sendai a cultural flair that makes this city worthwhile. Though brimming with must-see attractions and significant landmarks, Sendai isn't flooded with tourists like the other bigger cosmopolitans of Japan. However, this fact makes Sendai a premium getaway for those wanting to escape the pressures of a hectic life and escape to a place that lets them unwind in a novel way.

Best Attractions to Visit in Sendai

If you are hunting for the best markers to visit in Sendai, look at the curated list of best attractions and see which one conforms to your preference.


Visit the Sendai Castle Ruins


Sendai Castle, also known as Aoba Castle, was constructed by the warlord Date Masamune in 1602. The lofty tower of the castle enables you to get a bird's eye view of the city, and you can observe the Sendai Plain, the Pacific Ocean, and the Sendai center.


The magnificent equestrian statue of Date Masamune stands proudly inside the ruins. A museum that commemorates the history of the Aoba Castle is situated inside the castle's grounds and is ornamented with relics, artifacts, and a theater. These allow you to get an insight into the historical background of the court. However, the information provided in the museum is in the Japanese language, so the language barrier can prove to be an impediment. You can also visit the Sendai Museum, which is within walking distance from the castle. Sendai Yagiyama Zoological Park is also close by, so make sure you check it out to make the most of the trip.

Relish the captivating views of Matsushima Bay


Lying at a distance of 40 minutes from Sendai is another epic Miyagi sightseeing spot known as Matsushima Bay. Peppered with an overwhelming 260 islands, Matsushima Bay is one of Japan's three most enchanting bays. You can immerse yourself in the enthralling panoramic spots as you stroll along the coast or cruise through the bay in the Matsushima Pleasure Boat. You can also visit the Zuiganji Temple, which is just a three-minute walk from the boarding area of the dock that Date Masamune constructed.


You can also stroll through the Godaido Temple, located at a five-minute distance from the Zuiganji Temple, or discover the outskirts of Matsushima. There is also a boat dock. You can get a closer look at the islands, located only a seven-minute walk away from Matsushima-Kaigan Station.

Go shopping at Asaichi Morning Market


You wouldn't want to miss Asaichi Morning Market when visiting Sendai. This food mecca is laden with fresh local foods on sale. You can recharge your batteries or fuel up your mind with the infinite food options in the market or enjoy a delicious brunch at the local café.

Address: 9-19 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0063, Japan


Feel the resplendence of the rushing Akiu Great Falls


For adventure-seekers and nature advocates, the Akiu Great Falls, a mighty 55-meter fall, is one of the most epic attractions you can easily access via the city center. You can marvel at the plunging torrent of water and feel your heartstrings whispering with the melody of the water. You can enjoy hiking on the routes encircling the Akiu Great Falls and soak in the breathtaking vista around you. To make your day even more worthwhile, you can head over to the natural hot springs in the valley and savor the rejuvenating dive in the water.

Address: Otaki Akiumachi Baba, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi 982-0244, Japan


Go shopping for Sendai souvenirs at S-PAL Sendai


S-PAL Sendai is a shopping arena famous for a wide variety of souvenirs like the fish cake, Sendai beef tongue, an assorted medley of Japanese candy, a diversity of clothing, and other miscellaneous items. This shopping complex is popular amongst tourists for its hotchpotches that exemplify Japanese culture and traditions.

Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Central, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8477, Japan


Capture the enthralling beauty of Hirose River


Sendai is home to the Hirose River, which streams through the middle of Sendai and grants effective relief from the continual commotion in the city. This piece of exquisite natural landscape allows you to connect yourself with nature while detaching yourself from the up-to-date midsize town.
The Hirose River is home to 5000 salmon who have been reappearing upstream gradually since the restoration efforts of the stream have been in progress. During the celebration of Toro Nagashi, up to 3000 lanterns are glided down the river, and the sky becomes ablaze with the fireworks.


Take a tour of the Sendai Mediatheque


Sendai Mediatheque is situated inside a magnificent building constructed by Ito Toyo, who is one of the celebrated architects of Japan. The state-of-the-art facility is a grand project that oozes creativity and ingenuity. It is famous for accommodating an epic library and a repertoire of galleries and areas reserved as performance areas. These spots are also employed as venues for concerts and other social events like dance recitals. You can catch an outstanding performance paying a visit to this building but ensure to check the local listings before you schedule your plan.

Address: 2-1 Kasugamachi, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi 980-0821, Japan


Discover the treasures in the Museum of the Forest of Depths of the Earth


The Museum of the Forest of Depths of Earth in Sendai houses relics and artifacts that recount the chronicles of the Stone Age in Japan. You can gain in-depth information about the excavation of Tomizawa Ruins and get an insight into the Saki Stone Age. The museum also accommodates a large assortment of galleries and is the best place to visit for history buffs.

Address: 4 Chome-3-1 Nagamachiminami, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi 982-0012, Japan

Best day trips to take to Sendai in Japan


Visit the port town of Shiogama


The historic port town of Shiogama is a blissful haven for connoisseurs who share a penchant for Japanese foods. You can explore the port town Shiogama 30 minutes from Sendai if you travel by train. The tour itinerary will stop at Shiogama seafood market. Buy some fresh seafood and make your seafood donburi bowl. Choose from various vendors' favorite toppings.


The tour also incorporates visiting Timeship Shiogama and a historical demonstration paraded inside the Ichibankan in Shiogama City. Here, you will be able to get an insight into the historical culture by observing the relics and exhibits from the Jomon period. The tour will lead you to visit the famous soy sauce shops and breweries, including the famous Abekan Shuzo Brewery and Urakasumi Sake Brewery. The trip will make a circuit to the Shiogama Shrine, which is a cultural treasure backed up by 1000 years of history. If you are visiting the shrine in the spring, you will be able to witness the shrine's grounds decked with the prettiest cherry blossoms.

Hike to the top of Mountaintop Temple Yamada


Located at an hour's distance from Sendai, the 1000 step ascent to Mt Hoju brings you to the mesmerizing mountaintop complex Yamadara, officially known as Risshakuji Temple. This place is one of the most famous landmarks among tourists and photographers. The observation deck of the temple unfolds breathtaking and sensational vistas commanding a view of the Tachiya River Valley.


You will be able to view the magical cedar forest and marvel at the eternal light of Buddhism, which is a flame burning in the Konponchu-do Hall at the foot of the mountain. You can scrutinize the Buddhist art relics and the historical documents preserved in the temple's treasure house of Hiko Hall. The tour also includes visiting local gourmet shops that let you savor palatable cuisine.

Visit the Togarita Hot Springs


The Togarita Hot Spring day tour incorporates visiting places located at an hour's distance from Sendai. You will see the ranch known as the Zao Heartland, where you will have a chance to interact with nature and observe the farm animals. The tour guide will lead you to Zao Cheese Cabin, where you will sample food souvenirs of dairy products and vegetables.


The kokeshi workshop and Miyagi Zao Kokeshi Museum are en route, enabling you to view the assortment of kokeshi dolls on display. The tour also involves dropping in to visit the Kattamine Shrine and the hot spring of Kami no Yu, where you can unwind with a refreshing bath in the hot springs.

Urato Day Trip from Sendai


This day trip from Sendai begins at Marine Gate Shiogama, the largest port in Miyagi. Here you can grant a new flavor to your tastebuds by experimenting with seafood plates. And if you want to sample more Japanese cuisine, Uochoutei Seafood Restaurant can satisfy your cravings for seafood. The positive aspect is that the cuisine is available reasonably priced.


The tour also involves visiting the Matsuzaki Shrine and then heading off to Urato Katsurashima Beach, from where you can snap enviable photos of the Pacific Ocean. The trip also integrates touring Nono Island and exploring its cave holes while appreciating the enchanting sunset as you cruise the waters in the boat.

Sendai Tour


If you want to explore the most famous landmarks of Sendai, then this tour is ideal for you. The itinerary is tailored and planned according to your preferences. Its design allows you to relax and stroll through the significant landmarks and highlights, which are a must-see when visiting Sendai. You will be able to see multiple highlights in a day, including touring the Osaki Hachimangu Shrine, Matsushima Bay Area, and Zuihoden, among others. This trip is exceptionally advantageous and practical for those visiting Japan for the first time.

Take the Kakunodate Tour


Kakunodate day trip itinerary takes you to the Samurai town of Japan known as Kakunodate, which is known to have one of the most excellent samurai residences in all of Japan. Kakunodate can be reached in under two hours by traveling on a bullet train from Sendai. It's a picturesque town sprinkled with sparkling colors during the autumn and blooms with scintillating joy as cherry blossom flowers begin to blush in spring. The Kakunodate tour involves making a stop at Hanamaki Onsen or Nyuto Onsen for a refreshing dip in the hot springs and making a pit stop at the Morioka eatery for either lunch or dinner.

Taking a day trip to Hiraizumi


Once a flourishing city competing with the likes of Kyoto, Hiraizumi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its cluster of archaic temples and buildings. Hiraizumi is located in the northern part of Iwate Prefecture. You can best explore it by renting a car from Sendai. A vehicle lets you make a loop around the temples and significant natural markers with much more ease than traveling through a bus or train.

Best places to eat in Sendai


Sendai is located near chief fishing ports, enabling it to procure fresh ingredients and produce daily. Moreover, the Miyagi prefecture is one of the key producers of rice, which is a core ingredient in many Japanese dishes. For this reason, Sendai has become famous for propelling many Japanese recipes into the national limelight. It is well-known for housing many great gourmet hangouts which parade a delectable menu and a peaceful ambiance. Some of the best places to eat in Sendai are
Relish the beef tongue in Rikyu


One of the iconic dishes that exemplifies the crux of Japanese cuisine is Gyutan which was yielded out of thriftiness by the yakitori chef. He created the beef tongue dish by experimenting with the ingredients to reduce waste while maximizing the flavor. Later on, he translated the recipe into a delicacy and grilled the beef tongue to churn out a par excellence flavor.


You can visit Rikyu in Sendai to achieve the most authentic flavor of the beef tongue. The restaurant specializes in Gyutan, which enables you to enjoy different forms of the beef tongue, including eating it grilled, deep-fried, or in sushi-style.


Sample the taste of sushi at Kokorozukushi Inase


Sendai can satisfy all your cravings for seafood with its outstanding gourmet options. And amongst the gourmet choices, Kokorozukushi Inase is one fabulous restaurant that serves its customers' fresh seafood caught at the Sanriku coastline. The seasonal vegetables coupled with the seafood ingredients dished out with a creative flair in a contemporary setting make it one of Sendai's most visited spots. Even though the restaurant has an upmarket manifestation, the prices are pretty reasonable.


Savor a delicious dinner with a fantabulous view at Restaurant Symphony


Suppose you want to enjoy a lavish yet delectable feast that gives your tastebuds high contentment. In that case, you can jostle off towards the Restaurant Symphony. The restaurant is located in the Westin Sendai hotel and is very popular amongst tourists and locals. It is perched on the top floor of Sendai Trust Tower and dishes out cuisine from international gastronomy and imitates the French style. You can bask in the splendid views of downtown Sendai visible from the restaurant. With its a la carte choices and buffet options, the restaurant is an ideal spot for those who want to spend a romantic dinner with their special one. The cocktails served by the restaurant groove up the gourmet experience.


Indulge your tastebuds with pizza at the Dumbo Pizza Factory


If you are craving to bite into the crunchy and cheesy-filled layers of a pizza, then Dumbo Pizza Factory has just the setup for you. Its casual and friendly ambiance welcomes the visitors with grace and politeness. You can revel in the delicious and finger-licking taste of the Neapolitan pizzas and Western-style sides. However, suppose you want to dig into something else besides the pizza. In that case, you can select the banquet deal and savor the taste of a medley of tasty dishes.


Toss the authentic taste of rockfish in Jiraiya


This classic Japanese bar not only serves alcoholic drinks and snacks but is famed for specializing in charcoal-grilled rockfish, which is also better known as kimchi. The drink-sipping customers favor this dish at the bar. A massive red lantern at the entrance is a significant recognition marker that allows you to spot this izakaya, aka Japanese pub.


Taste the rice cakes at Gengo Chaya


Located on the eastern side of Nishi Park in Sendai, the Gengo Chaya café is one of the best places to visit if you want to gorge on some delectable zunda-mochi. This tea house specializes in churning out appetizing zunda-mochi, pounded rice cakes garnished with jam prepared from soybeans. It's a Sendai specialty that many locals favor. With its pleasant atmosphere and casual setting, the teahouse has been enjoying fame and success since its launch 130 years ago.


A delightful vegetarian haven-Ohisamaya


Located in the heart of Sendai, this vegan café is an ultimate hotspot for vegetarians. The menu is a brilliant blend of Western cuisine and Japanese dishes. Some of the most famous Japanese recipes include brown rice, miso soup, and a classic variety of vegetable-based recipes. Other stellar Western recipes include pasta, soups, and salads. The 100% vegan menu is to cater to the preferences of vegetarians. However, the rice balls and the cheesecake are some non-vegan dishes that are exemplary in their taste.


The sensational drink menu of the café grants your tastebuds an exotic experience. They stocked it up with traditional Japanese beverages, which are rare. Some of these beverages are armed with curative properties, such as dandelion tea and azuki bean coffee. Ohisamaya café has a food shop extended with it. It is a great place to stock up on some healthy and delectable snacks for the journey.


Stopover at Datenari for a meaty dish that tastes like heaven


Perched on the seventh floor of one of the imperial commercial buildings in the middle of Sendai, Datenari is a friendly Japanese pub with a warm and hospitable environment. The local beef, also known as Sendai-gyu, is its cult specialty. Sendai-gyu is a local cuisine regarded as an elite dish that licensed farmers can only create.


If you had the chance to experience the unsurpassed taste of Kobe and Wagyu beef, that Sendai-gyu taste will grant your tastebuds an intoxicating experience that is simply irresistible. Since Sendai-gyu is a highly-bred delicacy dish, it has a lofty price tag. But then, you can spend some money to savor the rich taste that is one in a million.


Conclusion


Sendai is the cultural hub of Tohoku, which seamlessly fuses the kinetic energy of the city with the tranquility of the natural panoramas. This effervescent city is an idyllic destination to visit if you want to acquire an authentic taste of Japan. It lets you experience a bit of everything that is the crux of Japanese culture.

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