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—  Designated city  —
仙台市 · Sendai City
Skyline of Downtown Sendai


Sendai is located in Japan
Coordinates: 38°16′N 140°52′E / 38.267°N 140.867°E / 38.267; 140.867
Country Japan
Region Tōhoku
Prefecture Miyagi Prefecture
 - Mayor Emiko Okuyama
 - Total 788.09 km2 (304.3 sq mi)
 - Density 1,305/km2 (3,379.9/sq mi)
City Symbols
 - Tree Japanese zelkova
 - Flower Japanese clover
Website Sendai City
Phone number 022-261-1111

Sendai-shi, Aoba-ku, Kokubun-cho 3-7-1

Sendai (仙台市 Sendai-shi?) is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, and the largest city in the Tōhoku (northeast) region. The city has a population of one million and is one of Japan's seventeen designated cities. The city was founded in 1600 by the daimyo Date Masamune, and is well known by its nickname, the "City of Trees" (杜の都 Mori no Miyako?). There are about 60 zelkova trees on Jouzenji Dori (定禅寺通) and Aoba Dori (青葉通). In winter, the trees are decorated with thousands of lights in an event called the Pageant of Starlight (光のページェント), which starts in December and ends when the New Year starts. Many people visit Sendai to see the Pageant of Starlight.



Although the Sendai area was inhabited as early as 20,000 years ago, the history of Sendai as a city begins from 1600, when the daimyo Date Masamune relocated to Sendai.

Masamune was not happy with his previous stronghold, Iwadeyama. Iwadeyama was located to the north of his territories and was also difficult to access from Edo (modern-day Tokyo). Sendai was an ideal location, being in the centre of Masamune's newly defined territories, upon a major road from Edo, and near the sea. Tokugawa Ieyasu gave Masamune permission to build a new castle in Aobayama, Sendai after the Battle of Sekigahara. Aobayama was the location of a castle used by the previous ruler of the Sendai area.

At this time, Sendai was written as 千代 (which literally means "a thousand generations"), because a temple with a thousand Buddha statues (千体 sentai?) used to be located in Aobayama. Masamune changed the kanji to 仙臺, which later became 仙台 (which literally means "hermit on a platform"). The kanji was taken from a Chinese poem that praised a palace created by the Emperor Wen of Han China, comparing it to a mythical palace in the Kunlun Mountains. It is said that Masamune chose this kanji so that the castle would prosper as long as a mountain inhabited by an immortal hermit.

Masamune ordered the construction of Sendai Castle in December 1600 and the construction of the town of Sendai in 1601. The grid plan roads in present day central Sendai are based upon his plans.

Downtown Sendai from the nearby Atago shrine

Sendai was incorporated as a city on April 1, 1889, as a result of the abolition of the han system. At the time of incorporation, the city's area was 17.45 km² and its population was 86,000. However, the city grew through seven annexations that occurred from 1928 to 1988. The city became a designated city on April 1, 1989. The city's population exceeded one million in 1999.

Sendai was (and still is) considered to be one of Japan's greenest cities, mostly because of its great numbers of trees and plants. Sendai became known as The City of Trees at least before World War II. This was because the Sendai han encouraged residents to plant trees in their yards. As a result, many houses, temples, and shrines in central Sendai had household forests (屋敷林 yashikirin?), which were used as resources for wood and other everyday materials. Air raids during World War II destroyed much of the greenery, and more was lost during the post-war rehabilitation and growth. Sendai is still well known as The City of Trees, but this is mainly because of massive efforts to restore greenery in the city.

The 2nd Infantry Division was known as the Sendai Division as it was based in Sendai, and recruited locally. During the Second World War it was involved in many different campaigns, but one of the most important was the Battle of Guadalcanal.


The Hirose-gawa River, seen from the Otamaya-bashi Bridge.

Sendai is located at lat. 38°16'05" north, long. 140°52'11" east. The city's area is 788.09 km², and stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Ōu Mountains, which are the east and west borders of Miyagi Prefecture. As a result, the city's geography is quite diverse. Eastern Sendai is a plains area, the centre of the city is hilly, and western areas are mountainous. The highest point in the city is Mt. Funagata which stands 1,500 m above sea level.

The Hirose-gawa River flows 45 km through Sendai. The river is well-known as a symbol of Sendai, especially because it appears in the lyrics of Aobajō Koiuta (青葉城恋唄; literally, The Aoba Castle Love Song), a popular song sung by Muneyuki Sato. Sendai Castle was built close to the river to use the river as a natural moat. The river frequently flooded until the 1950s, but dams and levees constructed in the 1960s and 1970s have made such floods rare. The river is now known for its exceptionally clean water and natural beauty, and was selected by Japan's Environment Agency as one of Japan's 100 Great Waters.[citation needed]

Sendai panorama view from Aobayama Hill.

Most mountains in Sendai are dormant volcanoes, much older than the more famous Zaō and Naruko volcanoes in nearby municipalities. However, many hot springs can be found in the city, indicating hydrothermal activity. The Miyagi Oki earthquake occurs offshore Sendai once every 25 to 40 years. The 2005 Miyagi earthquake, which occurred on August 16, 2005 had an epicenter close to the Miyagi Oki earthquake area. However, the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion concluded that it was not the Miyagi Oki earthquake, saying "...the recent event is not thought to be this earthquake. This is because the magnitude of the earthquake was small, and the source area, which was estimated from the aftershock distribution and seismic waves, did not cover the whole expected source region. Although, the recent event ruptured a part of the focal region of the expected earthquake."[citation needed]


Average temperature and precipitation in Sendai.

Sendai is situated in a temperate climate zone and has a moderate climate. The city's average temperature is 12.1°C (53.8°F) and its average annual precipitation is 1,241.8 mm. The highest recorded temperature in the city is 36.8°C (98.2°F), and the lowest recorded temperature is -11.7°C (10.9°F). The average year has 16.8 days with a high temperature over 30°C and only 2.2 days with a low temperature below 0°C, which is smaller compared to other major Japanese cities[citation needed]. The city is rarely hit by typhoons, and experiences only 6 days with more than 10 cm of snowfall in the average year. Sendai's rainy season usually begins in late June to early July, which is later than most cities in Japan. And cold wind from the Okhotsk air mass, called "Yamase", blows in this season.

Climate data for Sendai, Japan (1971-2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.5
Average low °C (°F) -2.0
Precipitation mm (inches) 33.1
Snowfall cm (inches) 29
Sunshine hours 151.3 151.9 182.3 190.9 198.7 127.9 127.7 155.4 119.8 151.8 140.2 144.7 1,842.6
% Humidity 65 64 62 64 70 80 83 81 78 71 67 65 71
Avg. snowy days 19.5 17.4 11.6 1.7 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.5 11.9 64.7
Source: [1] 2009-06-08


As of 2005, the city has an estimated population of 1,028,214 and a density of 1,304.69 persons per km². The city's total area is 788.09 km². Most people in the city live in urban areas close to train and subway stations. The 2000 National Census revealed that 88.5% of the city's population (892,252 people) live in a 129.69 km² area, which is 16.6% of the city's total area. The population density in this area is 6,879.9 persons per km², which is more than 5 times higher than the city's population density at that time, 1,286.6 persons per km². Approximately 10,000 people in Sendai are non-Japanese citizens.

Sendai has 444,514 households as of 2005. The average household has approximately 2.31 members. The average household is becoming smaller every year, because single-member households are increasing. Sendai has more people in their early 50s and in their 20s and early 30s than in other age groups. This is a result of the first and second baby booms in Japan, and university students. The average age in Sendai is 38.4, which makes the city one of the youngest major cities in Japan.


A map of Sendai's Wards
Sendai City Hall.

Sendai's political system is similar to other cities in Japan, because the Local Autonomy Law makes all municipalities uniform in terms of organization and power. However, Sendai is a designated city, so it has the same jurisdiction as prefectures in some areas.

Sendai's local government is essentially a mayor-council government with a strong mayor system. The mayor is elected from a citywide election. Sendai City Assembly members are elected from 5 elective districts, which correspond to the city's 5 wards. The number of assembly members allocated to each ward is based upon population. As of May 2005, the city has 60 assembly members; 17 from Aoba Ward, 11 from Miyagino, 8 from Wakabayashi, 13 from Taihaku, and 11 from Izumi. The City Assembly elects an Assembly Chairperson and Vice Chairperson. Sendai has two vice mayors, who are not elected by the populace.

Sendai has five wards ("ku"), which were created when it became a designated city in 1989. The city consciously avoided names that included directions (e.g., north 北, center 中央) when it chose names for the new wards.


Sendai is the centre of the Tōhoku region's economy, and is the base of the region's logistics and transportation. The city's economy heavily relies upon retail and services – the two industries provide approximately two thirds of the employment and close to half of the establishments.

Sendai is frequently called a branch-office economy, because very few major companies are headquartered in the city. Various authorities are cooperating to alleviate this problem, primarily by encouraging high-tech ventures from Tohoku University, which is well-known for its science and engineering departments. Several high-profile projects, such as the Sendai-Finland Wellbeing Center, have emerged from these attempts, but tangible results in the city's economy and employment are yet to be seen.

Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc., a major regional supplier of electric power, has its headquarters in Sendai.


Sendai Second High School

Sendai is sometimes called an "Academic City" (学都; gakuto) [2] because the city has many universities relative to its population. Tohoku University is the centre of the city's higher education. Tohoku University is known in Japan to be the leader in the field of material science. The university was one of the nine Japanese imperial universities and was ranked as the best Asian multi-disciplinary university in a 1999 Asiaweek survey.[citation needed] Also it was the first university in Japan to accept female students as well as foreign students.

Other Sendai universities include


JR Sendai Station

JR East Sendai Station is the main transportation hub for the city. The station is served by seven JR lines and is a major station on the Tōhoku and Akita Shinkansen lines. An underground passage connects the station to the Sendai Subway.

Sendai has a single north-south subway line (Nanboku Line), one of the most expensive in Japan with a basic fare starting at 200 yen. The city is currently constructing an second, east-west subway line (Tōzai Line), scheduled for completion in 2015.

The city is served by Sendai Airport (located in neighboring Natori), which has international flights to several countries, and Sendai Port. Contrary to the name, the Sendai International Airport terminal is actually south of the city in neighboring Natori, and the 3000 metre main runway straddles the border between Natori and Iwanuma while a 1200 metre diagonal runway is located entirely within Iwanuma. A rail link to Sendai began service on March 18, 2007.[citation needed]

The Tōhoku Expressway runs north-south through western Sendai, and is connected to other highways, such as the Sendai Nambu Road, Sendai Tobu Road, Sanriku Expressway (Sendai-Matsushima Road), and Sendai Hokubu Road.


Train stations



The promenade of Jozenji-Dori

The most well-known streets in Sendai, Jozenji-Dori (定禅寺通り Jōzenji Dōri?) and Aoba-Dori (青葉通り Aoba Dōri?), are both lined with Japanese zelkovas. These are symbols of "The City of Trees". Jozenji-Dori has a promenade and a few sculptures. It is a place of relaxation. Many events and festivals, such as the Sendai Pageant of Starlight and the Jozenji Street Jazz Festival, take place on Jozenji-Dori and in Kōtōdai Park (匂当台公園 Kōtōdai Kōen?). Aoba-Dori is the main business road in Sendai. Other major roads in the city include Hirose-Dori(ginkgo) and Higashi-Nibancho-Dori.


The Sendai Tanabata Festival.

The most famous festival in Sendai is the Sendai Tanabata Festival, which attracts more than 2 million visitors every year and is the largest Tanabata Festival in Japan. The festival is relatively quiet compared to other traditional Japanese festivals, because its main attractions are the intricate Tanabata decorations. The Aoba Matsuri Festival follows more typical Japanese festival traditions, with a mikoshi, floats, a samurai parade, and traditional dancing.[3] Local people burn their New Year decorations and pray for health in the new year during the Dontosai Festival, the oldest festival in Miyagi Prefecture.

Sendai Pageant of Starlights

Various contemporary festivals also take place in Sendai, such as the Jōzenji Streetjazz Festival, the Michinoku Yosakoi Festival, and the Sendai Pageant of Starlight. The Jōzenji Streetjazz Festival is one of the largest amateur music festivals in Japan, with more than 700 groups participating in recent years. It began as a jazz festival in 1991, but soon began to accept applications from all genres. The festival is called a "Streetjazz" festival to indicate this fact. The Michinoku Yosakoi festival is a dance festival, derived from the Yosakoi Festival that takes place in Kochi. Trees in downtown Sendai are decorated with lights during the Sendai Pageant of Starlights. The event provided the idea for the Festival of Lights annually held in Riverside, Sendai's sister city. In 2005, streets was lit up with one million miniature bulbs.

Specialties and crafts

Sendai is the origin of several foods, including gyutan (牛タン, cow tongue, usually grilled), hiyashi chūka (cold Chinese noodles), and robatayaki (Japanese-style barbecue). However, robatayaki was later introduced to Kushiro, which developed and popularized the dish. As a result, many people believe Kushiro is the origin of Robatayaki. Zundamochi (ずんだ餅, mochi balls with sweet, bright green edamame paste), and sasakamaboko (笹かまぼこ, kamaboko shaped like bamboo leaves) are also considered to be Sendai specialties. Sendai is also known for good sashimi, sushi, and sake. This is because Sendai is near several major fishing ports, such as Kesennuma, Ishinomaki, and Shiogama, and the fact that Miyagi Prefecture is a major producer of rice.

Many crafts from Sendai were originally created under the influence of the Date family during the Edo period. Examples are Sendai Hira, a hand woven silk fabric, Tsutsumiyaki pottery, and Yanagiu Washi paper. However, some crafts, such as umoregi zaiku (crafts created from fossil wood) were developed by low-ranking samurai who needed side jobs to survive. Kokeshi dolls were popularized by hot spring resorts that sold them as gifts. Some relatively recent developments include Sendai Tsuishu lacquerware and Tamamushinuri lacquerware, both of which were developed after the Meiji Restoration.

Sendai was also known for its production of Tansu, clothing chest of drawers made from wood with elaborate ironwork.

Sites of interest


Sendai is home to various historical sites related to the Date family. The ruins of Sendai Castle are located close to downtown on Aobayama, which also gives a panoramic view of the city. The Zuihoden Mausoleum is the tomb of Date Masamune, and is also home to artifacts related to the Date family. It is located on a hill called Kyogamine, which is the traditional resting place for members of the Date family. The Ōsaki Hachiman Shrine, built in 1607 by Date Masamune, is designated as a national treasure.

Newer historical sites include the former home of Doi Bansui, a famous lyricist, and a monument at Sendai City Museum that commemorates the Chinese writer Lu Xun. Another statue of Lu Xun can be found in the Tohoku University Katahira Campus, where Lu Xun studied medical science. Older historical sites include the Tōmizuka Tomb, a historical tomb that dates back to the late 4th century or early 5th century, and the Tomizawa Preserved Forest site, where the excavated remains of stone age human settlement (Upper Palaeolithic - roughly 20,000 years ago) have been protected by a large museum structure, built in 1996.


The Miyagi Museum of Art

Sendai City Museum displays various artifacts related to the Date family and the history of Sendai. Date Masamune's famous suit of armour and artifacts related to Hasekura Tsunenaga's visit to Rome are sometimes on display.

The Miyagi Museum of Art is Sendai's largest art museum. A total of 24 sculptures have been installed in various public locations in Sendai through its City of Sculptures project.

The Tomizawa site museum in the southern part of the city preserves a fossilized forest where the remains of human habitation from 20,000 years ago can be seen.[4]

The Sendai City War Reconstruction Memorial Hall is dedicated to remembering the air raid of July 1945 in which most of Sendai was destroyed.

Natural sites

Saikachi Gawa

Western Sendai is home to many sites of natural beauty, many of them found around Akiu(秋保) and Sakunami(作並), which are both hot spring resorts. Sites around the Akiu area include the Akiu Otaki Falls, sometimes counted as one of Japan's three great waterfalls, and the Rairai Gorge, known for its autumn colours. The Futakuchi Gorge contains several waterfalls that have been designated as natural monuments and the Banji Cliffs, an example of columnar basalt.[5]

The Sakunami area is also known for its natural beauty, with cherry blossoms in the spring, and beautiful colours in the autumn. The nearby Hōmei Shijuhachi Taki Falls is the name of various waterfalls found in the higher reaches of the Hirose-gawa River. The origin of the name "Hōmei" (鳳鳴; literally, Chinese phoenix cry) is said to come from ancient local inhabitants' claim that the sound of the waterfalls was similar to the legendary bird's call.

The Tatsunokuchi Gorge offers a breathtaking view, petrified wood can be found next to the nearby Otamaya-bashi bridge, and many locals enjoy cherry blossoms at Nishi-Kōen park and Tsutsujigaoka park. The Hirose-gawa River and the Gamo Tideland are both home to diverse wildlife.

Matsushima, which is one of the Three Views of Japan, is near Sendai, Matsushima-shi.

Other sites

Sendai Mediatheque, a building designed by Toyo Ito.

Sendai Mediatheque is a multipurpose facility that houses the city library, galleries, and film studio facilities open for use by the general public. The building was designed by Toyo Ito and is known for its innovative architecture.[6]

The AER Building, the Miyagi Prefectural Office, and the SS30 Building are all relatively high buildings in downtown Sendai that offer panoramic views. The Sendai Daikannon is an approximately 100 meter high Kannon statue. The statue was built during Japan's bubble economy by a now defunct company.



The Catholic Church has been associated with Sendai since 1631, the year in which Date Masamune, daimyo of Sendai, built a galleon to send an embassy to the Pope in Rome. Although the embassy was successful in its aim of establishing relations with the Holy See, Masamune's plans were frustrated by the suppression of Catholicism in Japan. The diocese of Sendai (previously the diocese of Hakodate) was established in 1891, only two years after the promulgation of a new constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion in Japan, in 1889. The Bishop of Sendai currently oversees the four northern prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate and Aomori, serving 11,152 Catholics in 56 parishes. Mototerakoji, the Cathedral of the diocese, is located a few blocks north of Sendai Station.


Kleenex Stadium Miyagi

Although the Lotte Orions briefly used Sendai as a temporary home for the franchise from 1973 to 1977, the city was largely ignored by professional sports until 1994. In that year, the Tohoku Electric Power football team was changed into a club team, Brummel Sendai, with the goal of eventually promoting the team into the J. League. The team achieved this goal when the J. League expanded in 1999 with the creation of a second division. The name of the team was simultaneously changed to Vegalta Sendai.

In 2005, the number of professional sports teams based in Sendai suddenly increased to three. The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles was introduced as a new Pacific League baseball franchise after widely publicized turmoil involving the merger of the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Orix Blue Wave developed into the first strike in Nippon Professional Baseball. Additionally, the Basketball Japan League, which began its inaugural season in November 2005, included the Sendai 89ers among its first six teams.

Annual sporting events include the Sendai Cup, an international football tournament for U-18 teams, and the Sendai International Half Marathon. In 2006 of the Sendai International half marathon, Mizuki Noguchi who won the women's marathon Gold medal in 2004 in the Athens Olympic Games, took part in and won the race in surprising course record.

Various sporting venues can be found in Sendai, such as Sendai Stadium, Miyagi Baseball Stadium, Sendai City Gymnasium. The city is also known as the origin of figure skating in Japan, and 2006 Olympic gold medalist Shizuka Arakawa trained in Sendai as she was growing up. Tohoku Fukushi University and Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School are well known for their strong sports programs, the latter for baseball.

In 2006, Sendai hosted some games of the Basketball World Championship 2006.

Sister and friendship cities

Sendai has a long history of international sister city relationships. Its affiliation with Riverside, California, on March 9, 1957, is the second oldest sister city partnership in Japan.


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : East Asia : Japan : Honshu : Tohoku : Miyagi : Sendai

Sendai (仙台) [1] is the largest city (about 1,000,000 people) in the Tohoku region of Japan's Honshu island.


Sendai is divided into five districts: Aoba-ku, Izumi-ku, Miyagino-ku, Taihaku-ku and Wakabayashi-ku.

As everyone here will tell you, "it's not too big and not too small, it's very convenient and it's close to both the sea and the mountains." Sendai is a comfortable and pleasant city — it's a nice place to live. It's very green — in fact they call it 杜の都 (Mori no Miyako, "Forest City"). The main avenues around the city are wide and tree-lined, giving the city an almost European feel. The main shopping street — confusingly known by two different names, Chūō-dōri (中央通り) and Clis Road — is pedestrianised and covered, so it feels like a mall. Several large universities are located in Sendai, attracting young adults from throughout the Tohoku area.


Although there is evidence of settlements in the Sendai region dating back over 20,000 years, it was not until the local feudal ruler, Date Masamune, moved his capital here in 1600 that the city began to take on any signifance. He established a fine castle on Aobayama (green leaf mountain) and the town that was built below the castle near the Hirose River was built according to the traditional street grid pattern. The original name of the area was also Sendai, but the Chinese characters for this name were changed. Originally they referred to a temple on Aobayama that housed a thousand Buddha statues. Later, Date Matsume changed the Chinese characters to mean 'hermit on a platform,' which referred to a mythical palace in the mountains in China. It is this latter name that is currently used by the present-day city.


There are two ways of looking at the weather here. One is the way most Japanese people seem to look at it: it's not too cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer, compared to other Japanese cities to the south. Others find it chilly year round.

Winter temperatures rarely dip below zero Celsius, and snow, though frequent in winter, melts quickly. Winter weather is very rainy, yielding to variable weather in Spring. There is a long rainy season, marked by consistently cool and cloudy weather, which typically coincides with the month of June, but has been known to set in right after the cherry-blossom blooms in April and to continue through July, and even August.

When (and if) the rainy season ends, Summer weather is very hot and humid, until September, which brings typhoon season. Most of the typhoons do little damage, having dissipated somewhat on their travel north, but fall on Sendai as very heavy rainstorms, following one another in close succession.

For those who prefer dry sunny weather, Autumn is the most reliable time for pleasant conditions in Sendai. In October, the weather becomes clear, dry and sunny, though cool, usually throughout the month and sometimes well into November. Daytime temperatures hover around 18C, with cooler nights. Rice harvesting is done at this time, while the fields are golden.

Get in

By plane

Sendai Airport (SDJ) [2]) mainly functions as a domestic airport with regular flights to Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Okinawa and Kanazawa(komatsu). However, there are also a few international flights to neighboring countries, such as South Korea, Taiwan and China.

The airport is linked to the city with the Sendai Airport Access [3] railway, which takes 17-25 minutes to JR Sendai Station and costs ¥630.

By train

Sendai is a major station on the Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train) line, some two hours from Tokyo. The line continues north to Morioka and Hachinohe.

The fastest ride from Tokyo is on the all-reserved Hayate service, which makes just two stops (at Ueno and Ōmiya) and runs to Sendai in 1 hour, 40 minutes (¥10590). The Komachi service bound for Akita is coupled to the Hayate train, but bear in mind that Komachi cars are slightly narrower, and therefore, so is seating.

By bus

Many highway buses run to Sendai from various locations in the Tohoku region.

JR Bus Tohoku and Tohoku Kyuko bus operate highway bus service to Sendai from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. There are five daytime trips and one overnight trip. Each run takes 5 1/2 hours at a cost of ¥6210.

An overnight bus service also runs directly from Yokohama and Shinagawa, costing ¥6500 from Yokohama (6 1/2 hours) and ¥6200 from Shinagawa (5 3/4 hours).

Kintetsu runs an overnight bus service, the Forest, from Osaka and Kyoto to Sendai. The one-way ride costs approximately ¥12000 and takes 12 1/4 hours from Osaka and 10 3/4 hours from Kyoto.

123bus [4] is a company with nightly bus services to Sendai from Tokyo. With English online booking service.

By boat

Taiheiyo Ferry (太平洋フェリー) [5] (Japanese) +81-22-259-0211. Offers overnight car ferries to Nagoya (21 hrs 40 mins) and Tomakomai (in southern Hokkaido) (15 hrs 20 mins) on the SS Ishikari and SS Kitakami. [6] (Japanese).

Getting there: Ferry terminal is located a ten minute taxi ride away from Nakanosakae Stn (中野栄駅) on the JR Senseki line (仙石線). The terminal is also located not far from the Sendai-ko kita (仙台港北) interchange on the Sendai Tobu Highway (仙台東部道路). For further details, check out the ferry website [7] (Japanese)

Get around

By subway

Sendai has one subway line traveling on a north-south axis, connecting major shopping districts with the train station. Key stations include Sendai for the train station and the AER building, Nagamachi-minami for the Mall (large American-style shopping mall including multi-screen cinema), Hirose-dori and Kotodai-koen for access to Ichibancho (covered shopping arcade), and Izumi-chuo for the soccer stadium. Second east-west line is under construction, with opening planned in 2012.

By bus

Adventurous types can try the bus system to reach those areas not covered by the subway. There are a few resources that help english speakers navigate, but it helps if you know the city (or at least some Japanese, as most stops has route maps). In this case it might become very convenient and far-reaching service, as many points in the city are reachable only by bus or car. However, in some places buses are infrequent, with waiting times up to half an hour, and they tend to get very crowded in the rush hour.

Fortunately for tourists there is a "Loople Sendai" [8] bus that makes a wide loop around to various Sendai attractions for 600Y for a whole day, or 250Y for one ride. Normal route buses have fares based on the distance travelled and usually cost from 170Y (the basic fare) to 300Y for some longest journeys.

Travelcards (commony called "bus cards" both in English and Japanese, although they could be also used on subway) are available, offering slight discount -- 5000Y card has 5500Y-worth of fare on it. There are two major bus companies, but for all practical intents and purposes they are indistinguishable.

On foot

The city center is compact and can easily be traversed on foot, especially by using the covered shopping arcades. There are many shops and arcades around Sendai station and therefore people could walk around by them own. Other parts of the city are quite hilly (even the center has some significant slopes) and while they still could be traversed on foot, this might be physically demanding. Residential parts are also very spread-out, and walking such large distances becomes impractical.


Sendai is not what you'd call a tourist city - it was flattened in the war and rebuilt after that so there really isn't much to see in terms of historical sights - in fact sights of any kind. The most famous sight in Sendai is the train station!

  • Miyagi Museum of Art (宮城県美術館), 34-1 Kawauchi-Motohasekura, Aoba-ku, [9]. A reasonable collection of modern art. Special room for Juryo Sato a local (but nationally famous) sculptor. Beautiful garden and a nice view of the river.
Aoba Castle Gate
Aoba Castle Gate
  • Aoba Castle (青葉城 Aoba-jō). Often recommended by locals, but what they mean is the site of the old castle - there's actually only a replica of a gate and a statue of the founder of the city, Date Masumune. However, the ruins of Aoba Castle is the theme of a famous poem written by Doi Bansui called 'Kojo no Tsuki' - 'The Moon over the desolate castle'. In the poem, the author touchingly invites us to reflect on the impermanence of all life, which is represented by the ruins of the once great castle caught in the light of the full moon. The poem has been put to music and is famous throughout Japan.
  • Ōsaki Hachiman Shrine (大崎八幡宮). Completed in 1607, and is designated a national treasure. The metal ornaments and colorful designs displayed against the black lacquer woodwork is an especially attractive feature.
  • There is a huge statue of Kannon (the Buddhist deity of compassion) outside the city that is worth seeing. However, don't expect to find it mentioned in any guides. Ask locals for directions.
  • Sendai Mediatheque [10] designed by Toyo Ito is an important piece of contemporary architecture. Take a look at the outstanding structure while enjoying the cafeteria and design shop on ground level.
  • Rinno-ji, (輪王寺) 1-14-1 Kitayama, Aoba-ku. +81 22 234-5327 - an historic temple with a large traditional garden, which is especially attractive when the azaleas are in bloom. (bus: “Kitayama - Shiheimachi line,” get off at “Rinno-ji mae”)
  • SS 30 Observation Lounge, Higashi Nibancho dori and Kitamenmachi-dori - this office tower has an observation deck on the 29 and 30th floors, which is open and free to the public.
  • Yagiyama Zoo.
  • Sendai Castle Ruins (仙台城跡)is a famous place to visit for many tourists. there is a statue of Masamune Date(伊達政宗)who built the basis of Sendai city.
  • The Museum of the forest of depths of the earth,(地底の森ミュージアム)4-2-1- Nagamachi-Minami, Taihaku-ku, 022-246-9153- The museum of the stone age. In the museum, restoration exhibition of that time is carried out based on the data discovered from public presentation and there of the ruins 20,000-year Saki's Old Stone Age unearthed from Tomizawa ruins(富沢遺跡)
  • The biggest festival in Sendai is Tanabata (七夕). The festival starts with fireworks on Aug 5th and then the festival proper is from Aug 6th to Aug 8th. The streets are decorated with big paper decorations, there's a parade and... well, that's about it.
  • In December, there's the Pageant of Starlight which isn't really a festival as such. The trees in two of the city's main avenues - Aoba-dōri and Jōzenji-dōri - are festooned in thousands of orange lights. The effect is is very pleasant, with the orange glow casting a warmth over the otherwise cold and frosty streets.
  • The Donto-sai Festival is held at the Osaki Hachiman Shrine on January 14 every year.
  • The Michinoku-Yosakoi Festival is held in Sendai every year.


Sendai has a few major sports teams.

  • Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles - pro baseball Pacific League
  • Vegalta Sendai - pro soccer J. League
  • Sendai 89ers - basketball Japan League


Sendai's specialties include gyūtan (牛タン), grilled beef tongue; sasakamaboko (笹かまぼこ), a type of fish sausage; and zundamochi (ずんだ餅), sweet green soybean paste eaten with soft glutinous rice balls. Sendai-Miso (仙台味噌)has a long history. Hiyashi-Chuka(冷やし中華)is made in Sendai.

  • Rikyu (利久). A famous chain of gyūtan restaurants. Order the teishoku (set meal) - this includes meat, pickles, barley rice, leek, and a clear oxtail soup with real tail. There's one on the corner of Ekimae-dori and Hirose-dori (across from the AER building).
  • Oden Sankichi (おでん三吉). 4-10-8 Ichiban-cho, Aoba-ku. This restaurant specializes in oden, a Japanese fish stew of sorts with ingredients slowly simmered for hours if not days in a soy broth. Goes well with beer or sake, and especially popular in winter. A basic (if somewhat small) bowl of oden is just ¥500. Open for lunch and dinner, closed Sundays.
  • The basement food hall in the Mitsukoshi department store is an excellent place to sample Sendai's specialties.
  • Kaki Toku (かき徳). 4-0-1 Ichiban-cho, Aoba-ku. Miyagi and Hiroshima are famous for oysters, and Kaki Toku, which has been running since 1927, is one of the area's most renowned oyster restaurants. Open: weekdays 11:30AM to 2PM and 5PM to 8PM, Saturdays and holidays 11:30AM to 8PM, and Sundays and last day of successive holidays 11:30AM to 9PM.
  • Kameki Sushi (亀喜寿司), 6-12 Shintomi-cho, Shiogama, [11]. Wed-Mon 11 AM-9 PM. Has a creditable claim to being the best sushi restaurant in Japan — no mean feat. Uses exclusively locally caught fish. No credit cards. ¥5250+ for a full course.  edit
  • Namaskar, +81 22 257-7702, [12]. Authentic Indian restaurant with two locations. One in the BiVi building (opposite Yodabashi Camera) directly behind Sendai station, on the 4th floor. There they offer an extensive and reasonably priced buffet lunch on Sundays from 11AM-3PM. The other is on Minamimachi-dori. There they occasionally show Indian films and music videos on a large screen and carry a buffet lunch on Saturdays.
  • Tirol, Great Italian on Clis Road, or just west of Izumi-chou Subway Station in the north.
  • Hummingbird, Italian in Hotel Universe on Ichibancho-dori. Known for its fresh pasta.
  • Benitora, Chinese dishes (spicy). Located to the north of the AER building by Sendai station. Cross the pedestrian bridge and look for the big red kanji (means 'red tiger').
  • Heichinro, an upscale Chinese restaurant on top of the AER building.
  • Yuki Kitchen Consultant's Biologic Restaurant Potimaron (vegetarian and macrobiotic), 30-11-1 Kongosawa, Taihaku-ku. +81 22 244-6275.
  • Fredrick Pantry, 3-10-1F, Kitame Machi. +81 22 715-8950 - a shop and small restaurant specializing in organic and vegetarian food.
  • O-hisama, (From Sendai station walk towards E-beans. Continue walking straight so that you pass the Monterey Hotel. Walk until you see an underpass tunel on your left. Turn right there (a beef tongue restaurant is at the corner). Walk straight for a minute or two. The place is just after a CoCo curry shop. O-hisama restaurant has vegetables for sale out front.), ☎ (022) 224-8540. 11:30-2:30...5:00-7:30 Closed on Sundays. Vegetarian/Organic restaurant Small place. Atmosphere is very warm and the food is awesome. edit



Due to the numerous universities located near the city center, the nightlife in Sendai is excellent for a city of its size. Several small dance clubs on or around Chuo-dori fill with incredibly energetic young people most nights of the week.

Kokubunchō (国分町) is the main entertainment district. Full of restaurants, izakaya, bars, hostess bars and strip clubs.

  • Club Shaft, Dai 3 Yoshiokaya Bld., Kokubuncho 2chome 10-11. +81 22 722-5651. [13] A DJ /Live Band Club and sports bar pub founded by Julian, now owned by Dominic; both from England. Great atmosphere. World food and beers. Can hire for wedding, birthday parties etc. Open everyday 6pm-late. Check Mobile/Keitai website for latest event information. [14]
  • Ha'penny Bridge, (near the east exit of Sendai station). A Guinness pub. Open M-Sa 5PM-11PM.
  • Vilevan, (on Clis Road near Sendai Station). A jazz bar. Free live jazz on Saturday nights. Last order- is 1AM.
  • Ernies Bar, (1st floor Social Building, Sendai-Shi, Aoba-Ku Kokubuncho 2-1-11 (near Hotel Richfield)). A good bar in Kokubuncho frequented by foreigners with whom one can have a decent conversation. The owner and manager, Ernie, creates a cozy and relaxed atmosphere with his own mix of funky jazz, soul and house. Open Tu-Su 6PM-5AM.
  • One More Time, (Aoba-ku, Ichibanchou 1-13-20) +81 22 221-1960. Walk south on Ichibancho Street one full block after the pedestrian section ends. It's across the main street from the Idemitsu gas station. An American-style bar filled with 1950's americana, but surprisingly few foreigners. Music ranges from Elvis to Janis. The owner and his son both speak decent English and instantly make you feel right at home. Open 6PM-1AM
  • Wadi Halfa 「わでぃはるふぁ」, 2-2-2 O-machi, Aoba-ku, +81 22 225-5241 - this Sendai institution often has live performances of Indian or African music.
  • Sendai hira - silk
  • tsutsumiyaki - pottery
  • yanagi'u washi - hand made paper
  • tsuishu - lacquerware
  • kokeshi - wooden dolls, popular throughout the Tohoku region.
  • Sendai tansu - wardrobe
  • Sendai Daruma
  • Rinno-ji Temple (輪王寺), 1-14-1 Kitayama, Aoba-ku. +81 22 234-5327 (bus: “Kitayama - Shiheimachi line,” get off at “Rinno-ji mae”). Zazen (meditation) meetings are held every Sa 6:30PM-8PM. Instruction is given in English and participation is free. Wear loose fitting clothing.
  • Sendai Language School [15], SLS Bldg.5F 1-16-23, Ichiban-cho, Aoba-ku. +81 22 266-8181, Fax: +81 22 266-8182.
  • Sendai International Relations Association (SIRA) [16] arranges non-profit Japanese classes at various locations in the city [17].
  • Sendai-Dochuan Youth Hostel, 31 Kitayashiki, Onoda, Taihaku-ku. +81 22 982-0014. [18] The hostel is located about 5km from down town.
  • Maple Sendai Youth Hostel, 1-9-3 Kashiwagi, Aoba-ku. +81 22 234-3922, Fax: +81 22 234-3923. [19]
  • Sendai Chitose Youth Hostel, 6-3-8 Odawara, Aoba-ku. +81 22 222-6329, Fax: '+81 22 265-7551. [20]
  • Holiday Inn Sendai, 1-4-1 Shintera, Wakabayashi-ku (6 min from Sendai Station). +81 22 256-5111. [21] Opened in 2001, this modern, fairly pleasant business hotel is within walking distance of Sendai station (at least if you don't have much luggage). Rooms are small but comfortable, and the breakfast buffet is a notch above the usual. Rates from ¥6,500 for a single.
  • Hotel Sendai Plaza, 2-20-1 Hon-chou, Aoba-ku. +81 22 262-7111, Fax: +81 22 262-8169. [22]
  • Hotelcoms Annex Sendai, 2-8-11 Chuo, Aoba-ku. +81 22 221-8111. [23]. Newly opened this business hotel was a bargain at the time of writing. Roomsizes are above average for a business hotel, each room are equiped with a private windows PC and LCD TV, central location near the nightlife district, and rates begin at only 5000¥ for a single.
  • Hotel Metropolitan Sendai, 1-1-1 Chuo, Aoba-ku. +81 22 268-2525, Fax: +81 22 268 2521, [24] E-Mail:
  • Sendai Royal Park Hotel, 6-2-1 teraoka, izumi-ku
  • Hot springs
    • Akiu is about 40 minutes by bus from Sendai Station (West Exit Bus Pool). Sakkan (a hotel) is right next to the bus stop.
    • Sakunami is about 20 minutes by train on the Senzan Line from Sendai Station.
    • Naruko is popular hot springs in Sendai.
  • Matsushima, located about 40 minutes away by local train (Senseki Line), is a bay full of tiny pine covered islands and is recognized as one of the three most beautiful views in Japan.
  • Kinkasan, 60 km away at the tip of the Oshika Peninsula, offers light hiking and lots of deer. Walk up the mountain to see monkeys. Stay at the shrine on the island and participate in the morning service (6am).
Routes through Sendai
MoriokaIchinoseki ← Kurikoma-Kōgen ← Furukawa ←  N noframe S  → Shiroishi-Zaō → FukushimaTokyo
MoriokaMatsushima  N noframe S  FukushimaTokyo
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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  1. a capital city of Miyage prefecture, Japan.




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