|Sendai Travel Information|
Sendai is a city with a population of one million, and is the political and economic center of Japan’s Tohoku (northeast) Region. Although Sendai is a large city, it is known throughout Japan as a modern city in harmony with nature.
The city possesses beautiful scenery, such as the Hirose-gawa River that runs through central Sendai, and the lush zelkova trees that line its streets. Greenery is especially abundant in the center of the city, which has tree-lined streets and parks. As a result, Sendai is called the “City of Trees.”
Sendai has many universities and is also well known as an academic city. Its universities and research institutes have been contributing to the development of the high-tech industry.
Sendai also values history and culture. Many traditional events, such as the Sendai Tanabata Festival, continue to this day. The Sendai International Music Competition and the Johzenji Streetjazz Festival are also held in the city, along with many theatrical performances.
We invite you to discover Sendai, a modern city that retains its natural beauty and tradition.
The Warrior who Established Sendai (as his Castle town)
Date Masamune, the first lord of the Sendai Clan (Han), established the foundation of Sendai. In 1600, Masamune started to build his castle in Sendai and implemented new plans regarding the layout and development of the city. The city became so prosperous that a Spanish Ambassador described it as being busier than Tokyo.
Even today, you can see a panoramic view of Masamune's visionary town planning from the ruins of his castle. The modern urban planning found in present-day Sendai would not have been possible without the urban heritage from its great founder.
The Keicho Mission to Europe
In 1613, during the Keicho era, Date Masamune dispatched a mission to Europe to establish trade and invite missionaries. The mission was lead by Masamune's retainer, Hasekura Tsunenaga, and embarked upon the San Juan Bautista, a western-style sailing ship constructed by the Sendai Clan. The delegation crossed the Pacific, landed at Acapulco, Mexico, and set sail upon the Atlantic Ocean to Madrid and Rome, which made them the first Japanese to cross the Atlantic. The mission was granted an audience with Pope Paul V after arriving in Italy. The journey home sent the mission through Spain and the Philippines. It took almost seven years to complete the journey. This was one of the most remarkable events in the history of Sendai.
Sendai shares the same latitude as Washington D.C., the capital of the United States, and Athens, Greece. Sendai enjoys a very comfortable and temparate climate compared to other cities in Japan.
Its average temperature is 12.1ºC and its annual precipitation is 1,241.8 mm. The hottest month is August with an average temperature of 24.1°C; the coldest month is January with an average temperature of 1.5°C.
The splendor of each of the four seasons can be experienced and enjoyed in Sendai. The city’s autumn colors and snow-covered landscapes in the winter are especially beautiful, and people enjoy magnificent scenery in both downtown Sendai and the nearby mountains.
|A City in Harmony with its Surroundings|
Sendai is a modern city in harmony with nature. The city is surrounded by a splendid natural environment, from the western Ohu Mountains to the eastern Pacific Ocean. Areas north and south of the city are agricultural areas that produce some of Japan’s best rice. The city itself is full of nature and greenery. Many parks and streets are lined with zelkova trees, and the clear waters of the Hirose-gawa River flow through downtown Sendai. Although the Hirose flows through a major city, it is known to be a beautiful river with extremely clean water, and ayu (sweetfish), which only live in clean water, are known to travel up the river.
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.
The Zao Mountains
A one-hour drive from Sendai takes you to Mt. Zao, a collection of several age-old volcanoes. Near its summit, you can enjoy a pleasant walk around the Okama, a crater lake known for its ephemeral colors. Mt. Zao is also famous for the snow monsters (frost covered trees) that can be seen during the winter. The snow monsters are created when fine snow and ice stick to Abies mariesii (maries(#8217; fir) trees. The result is a piece of natural artwork, a product of the unique winter climate of the area. The snow monsters are especially beautiful in the beginning of February.
Akiu and Sakunami are both hot spring resorts near downtown Sendai. A 30-minute drive takes you to these resorts, which boast many hotels and traditional Japanese inns (ryokan) that offer comfortable big baths among the beauty and tranquility of the mountains. Some traditional inns have baths located outside, where you can relax while enjoying the views of the stars or the snow.
Many pedestrian walkways connect Sendai station and its surrounding buildings, leading people to the entrance of Sendai's shopping area. Six characteristic shopping malls, such as the modern Clis Road, the high-roofed Sun Mall Ichibancho, and Marble Road Omachi, which was the main street during the Date Family's rule, attract people with the entertainment, fashion, food, drink, and culture they offer.
A new plaza greets people outside the east and “new” side of Sendai station, which attracts young people with its music and entertainment venues.
Famous stores and restaurants line the main streets, showing the latest Sendai has to offer. However, take one step off the main streets, and it feels like you’ve traveled backwards in time, to the post-war era. The good old vibe is still alive in these back streets, which are home to old-fashioned drinking places, delis, and groceries, but also contain stores run by the younger generation, such as coffee and vintage clothing shops. Each alley in Sendai has its own vibe and story.
The Sendai Asaichi Market, sometimes called “Sendai’s kitchen” is located on the west side of Sendai Station. Although the market is called “Asaichi,” which means “morning market,” it is open all day long. Over 70 diverse stores sell fresh fish, vegetables, fruit, and even deli food. The area is always bustling with people, who are attracted by the cheap and fresh food.
Lush greenery can be found lining the streets and parks in downtown Sendai. The urban area is surrounded by further natural beauty. People can enjoy cherry blossoms and many pretty flowers in the spring. Numerous food stalls are set up in parks where cherry trees grow, and people gather and enjoy food, drink, and the flowers. Please experience this Japanese custom, called “hanami,” if you have an opportunity.
People enjoy walks under the cool green zelkova trees in downtown Sendai and have fun around the banks of the Hirose-gawa River during the summer.
Fall is the season of beautiful autumn colors. A popular autumn custom in Sendai is the “imonikai,” where people gather at river banks and eat a miso-flavored soup that has pork and potatoes in it. Some parks offer services that provide visitors a set of ingredients, firewood, pots, and utensils, making it easy for travelers to try out this local custom.
Sendai has many places where people can enjoy winter sports. There are two ski slopes in the city and many more around within an hour by car. Even people who can’t ski can have fun, riding sleds and making snowmen. In the nearby Zao mountains, people can observe snow monsters from late Janurary to February. The snow monsters are created when ice and snow stick to the trees in the mountains, and tours are available to see this natural wonder.
There are nine golf courses in Sendai City, and many more courses surround the city, within an hour by car. All courses make the best of their natural landscape, and it is possible to enjoy hot springs in some clubhouses.
Sendai is blessed by nature and enjoys fruitful harvests from both land and sea. The region has produced unique delicacies since ancient times and its seafood has established a solid reputation for freshness. Fresh sushi and oysters from Matsushima bay are among the most famous Sendai specialties.
Sendai is also famous for gyutan (beef tongue), which is grilled over charcoal and goes well with sake. Sukiyaki made with Sendai beef and fish tempura are also both highly reccomended. Sendai’s cuisine is quite reasonably priced, so you can savor your dining experience to your heart’s content.
Sendai Bay boasts large harvests of oysters. Oysters harvested from Sendai are small but tasty. They are delicious served raw, deep-fried, or as kaki-nabe, a warming winter oyster stew. The season for oysters in Sendai is from October to March.
Beef tongue is one of Sendai's most famous delicacies. It is typically served thinly sliced and grilled on charcoal, with barley rice and beef tail soup.
Sasa-kamaboko is a processed fish loaf made from pureed white fish (e.g. flounder), which is baked into bamboo leaf (sasa) shaped loaves. This delicacy will tease your appetite with its delicious fish taste and pleasant aroma.
Jizake (Local Sake)
Sake is an alchoholic beverage brewed from rice. Sendai is an outstanding rice-producing area, and is therefore also famous for its excellent sake brewed from quality sake rice.
Wagashi (Japanese sweets)
Date Masamune, founder of the Sendai Clan (han) loved the tea ceremony (cha-no-yu), which many people continue to enjoy in present-day Sendai. Sweets are essential accompaniments to tea ceremonies and consequently has lead to the development of many famous sweets in Sendai.
Sendai is located approximately 300 kilometers (180 miles) north of Tokyo on the Pacific coast of Honshu (the largest of Japan's four major islands). Sendai lies in the center of the Tohoku (northeast) Region, one of the seven major regions in Japan.
It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach Sendai from Tokyo on the Tohoku Bullet Train (Tohoku Shinkansen). Sendai also has regular flights to and from major domestic and international cities.