The feel of a small town combined with the convenience of a big city is what makes Tohoku’s metropolis so appealing.
Japanese cities are known for being endlessly chaotic concrete jungles. The fact that Sendai City is nicknamed the “City of Trees” (“Mori no Miyako“) should be encouraging for visitors looking to explore a city with a far more laid-back atmosphere.
Tohoku’s largest city has a reputation as a jumping-off point for travelers en route to wildly popular spots like Matsushima Bay, Cat Island, Fox Village and Yamadera Temple. But far from being just a hub, the city itself has an abundance of history and culture that make rewarding excursions.
Founded by Lord Date Masamune in the 1600s, you’ll find a statue of its founder overlooking the city skyline from a nearby mountain at the site of Sendai’s Aoba Castle, which offers stunning panoramic views.
Catch the subway (Tozai and Namboku lines) into the city and sample the local delicacy of gyutan (grilled beef tongue), a mouthwatering dish that can be found in numerous restaurants around Sendai station.
To the north, check out the Sendai Daikannon statue towering over the city at 100-meters tall, making it the sixth largest statue on earth. To the west, the Osaki Hachimangu shrine — arguably Sendai’s most beautiful Shinto shrine — is classed as a national treasure.
For animal lovers, there’s Yagiyama Zoo, just 10 minutes from Sendai station. At night, the city comes alive in Kokubuncho, the entertainment district, where you can grab a drink alongside fresh local seafood such as oysters from the coastal towns of Matsushima and Shiogama. Be sure to enter the entertainment district via Jozenji Dori, a street lined with dozens of green trees, that give the city its well-deserved nickname.
If visiting during spring, catch the superb cherry blossoms at one of the best spots in the city, Nishi Park. While Sendai City may be a bit of a haul from Tokyo, it stands on its own as a vibrant tourism spot and travel hub for the Tohoku region.
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