Sendai Travel Guide
With history dating back to the Edo Period, the museums and temples here will hold your attention for several days.
Despite the number of excellent cultural and natural attractions which can be found in the Sendai area, the events of March 11, 2011, will likely be on your mind as you arrive in this recovering city. Learn about this horrible earthquake and tsunami and pay tribute to those who perished by spending a few hours at the Sendai 3.11 Memorial Community Center.
Located in Arai Station in the Sendai Metro, it contains interactive exhibits on the first floor, while the second floor contains pictures which bring home the devastation that was suffered by locals in the wake of a 9.0 earthquake which spawned a tsunami that was over seven metres high.
After taking in the details of such a saddening disaster, palate cleanse your mind by heading up to the rooftop garden, where its greenery and the views provided will help you be grateful for a present that is far more serene and peaceful than those terrible days seven years ago.
Pay tribute to one of the most fearsome feudal leaders of Japan’s Edo period by paying a visit to the Zuihoden Mausoleum. Acting as the final resting place of Date Masamune, his remains occupy the most elaborate tombs in this brilliant structure, along with the bodies of his family members.
The descendants of his bloodline are also interned here, albeit in lesser tombs. As with all memorial halls of this variety, respectful dress is what you should be aiming for during your visit – no exposed skin other than your hands and head.
Of the things he accomplished during his reign, the construction of the Osaki Hachimangu Shrine is certainly one of the most visible signs of his legacy. As the name suggests, this is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Japanese deity of war.
Built in the early 17th century, this temple is an excellent example of architecture during the Edo Period, making the ceremonial spaces within this holy place all the more atmospheric.
There is more to Japanese alcoholic drinks than sake – thanks to the opening up of the country to foreign influence in the 19th century, it opened the door for knowledge of beer and other liquors to get into the country.
Thanks to this, an adventurous Japanese man learned of the brilliance of whiskey during his travels in Scotland. Marrying a local woman, he brought her back to Japan, and together, they were among the first to create this liquor in this country.
Sample this famed drink by touring the Nikka Whisky Distillery during your time in Sendai. While the tour is mostly in Japanese, a pamphlet provided at the start will provide background information as you walk amidst the kilns and the kettles.
Tasting is provided afterwards, but ensure you have a sober ride back to your hotel, as those without will not be allowed to participate in this enjoyable end to the tour.
Educate yourself on the past history of Sendai by spending some time exploring the exhibits of the Sendai City Museum. Diving deep into the area’s past, you’ll find treasures within such as a 400-year-old suit of armour, a monument honouring the visit of Chinese literary giant Lu Xun, and a variety of personal effects which belonged to Date Masamune and his clan.
Nature lovers will want to get out of Sendai at some point on a day trip to check out Akiu Otaki Falls. Situated at the end of a 40-minute long hike, the physical effort required to get to its base will pay off, as this cataract is ranked among the top 100 waterfalls in the entire country.
Upon arrival, the thundering of this column of water and the mist this collision with the gorge produces will create an atmosphere that will help you get your head back on straight if the stresses of the road have been getting to you.
Take in the sport of Japanese baseball by attending a home game at Rakuten Kobo Stadium while in Sendai. Home to the Rakuten Eagles, this place can hold over 20,000 fans when it is at capacity. As you cheer on the home team to victory, enjoy uniquely Japanese snacks (as well as the standard ones, with a local twist), and drink craft beer, as it is sold alongside the mainstream brews.
End your trip to Sendai by spending an evening strolling along Jozenji-dori Avenue. Lined with shady trees that make this area a great place to be on a summer’s day, it is a wonderful spot to enjoy a coffee or a beer as the world passes by.
With shops that offer goods that are uniquely Japanese, it is also a wonderful place to buy souvenirs before heading home.