[2018 Edition] 10 Must-See Sightseeing Spots in Sendai
Sendai is the largest city in the Tohoku region. There are many ways to access it from Tokyo, such as taking a shinkansen (bullet train) for around 1 hour and 40 minutes or an airplane for about an hour. This article delves into 10 classic tourist spots in this city that are worth visiting at least once.
First up on the list is Matsushima, which is a general name for the roughly 260 islands that float on Matsushima Bay. It is a place of scenic beauty that offers one of Japan’s top three famous sights. This sight is so beautiful that it has been a motif of poems and paintings since long ago. If you want to take in this sight, why not try an approximately 50-minute sightseeing cruise that takes you around its islands?
Sightseeing Cruise Fee: 1,500 JPY/Adult, 750 JPY/Child
2. Sendai Castle Site
This is the site where the former castle of Date Masamune (1567 - 1636), the one-eyed warlord that eventually founded the Sendai Domain, once stood. Though the whole site has undergone development, the stone walls and reconstructed watchtowers remind one of the past. Its location on a corner of Mt. Aoba grants it an amazing view of the whole city of Sendai, which many people come to see. There are historic sites and cultural facilities in the area, such as a museum exhibiting various materials.
Aoba Castle Museum Entrance Fee: 700 JPY/Adult and university student, 500 JPY/High school and middle school student, 300 JPY/Elementary school student
3. Zuihoden Mausoleum
Next up is Zuihoden Mausoleum, the final resting place of Date Masamune. It was constructed in 1637 and consists of structures like a main shrine and worship hall. It was made into a national treasure in 1931 for its historical value and extravagant appearance, but was sadly destroyed by fire in a war in 1945. The mausoleum that exists today is the iteration that was rebuilt in 1979. It’s worth visiting, even just for its beautiful design incorporating stunning carvings and roof tiles.
Viewing Fee: 550 JPY/General and university student, 400 JPY/High school student, 200 JPY/Middle school and elementary school student
4. Akiu Otaki Waterfall
This is one of Japan’s three most famous waterfalls. It has a height of approximately 55m and a width of 6m. The gorgeous sight of the water from Natori River falling down this waterfall attracts many visitors. If you use the installed walking path, you can view this impressive scene from as close as the plunge basin! Every season brings about a completely different yet equally as beautiful appearance, from the vivid greenery of spring and summer, to the autumn leaves and winter snow. At the nearby Akiu Otaki Botanical Garden, you can encounter lovely plant life from Mt. Zao.
Akiu Otaki Botanical Garden Fee: 240 JPY/Adult, 180 JPY/University and high school student, 120 JPY/Middle school and elementary school student
5. Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium
This aquarium will introduce you to a wide variety of marine creatures from Japan. With around 100 water tanks featuring grand-scale performances incorporating sea creatures, you have a chance to to come into close contact with penguins and sea lions. There is also an impressive 360°Panorama Project Mapping show, so the aquarium offers entertainment for people of all ages!
Entrance Fee: 2,100 JPY/Adult (18 years old and older), 1,600 JPY/High school and middle school student (12 - 18 years old) + Senior (65 years old and older), 1,100 JPY/Elementary school student (6 - 12 years old), 600 JPY/Toddler (4 years old up to right before school age)
6. Houmei Shijuhachitaki Waterfall
This famous waterfall can be found along National Route 48, which extends from Sendai towards Yamagata. It is distinguished by several waterfalls of varying sizes overlapping and connecting with each other. The sight of the dense forest together with the sprays of water looks like a scene out of a painting. This scene is beautifully decorated with lush greenery in the early summer and fall foliage in the autumn. The clear sound that emerges from these rushing waterfalls is so well known that it is compared to the cry of the mythical phoenix! Why not engage in a little forest therapy there while listening to its divine melody?
7. SENDAI-IZUMI PREMIUM OUTLETS
This outlet mall is the ultimate shopping destination in Sendai. Its design is based on the townscape of the northeastern part of the United States. Within its walls, you can find 80 stores carrying popular local and international brands’ goods. Apart from duty-free stores, foreign tourists can acquire discount coupons from the information center on the first floor. It is about 25 minutes by car from Sendai City. You can also take a bus from JR Sendai Station to get there.
8. Nikka Whisky Miyagikyo Distillery
This distillery belongs to the world-acclaimed whisky maker, Nikka Whisky. Through its free guided tours, you can look around the brick building and learn about the company and the manufacturing process behind whisky. You’ll even get to try out some of the alcohol when the tour is over! There’s a shop on site that sells items that would make good souvenirs, such as their original whisky.
※You need to make an advance reservation for a distillery tour. Please do so via the official homepage.
※The tour is only offered in Japanese. However, you can download tour information in several languages online.
9. Osaki Hachimangu Shrine
The people of Sendai have revered this shrine ever since it was built in 1607 under the orders of Date Masamune. It is believed to grant blessings in warding off evil, achieving victory, and having a safe birth. Its highlight is the main shrine building (shaden), which is a designated national treasure. Date Masamune personally invited artisans to construct this colorful and extravagantly designed structure. Make sure to pay attention to the various intricate carvings! The best time to visit the shrine is during the Matsutaki Festival (Dontosai Festival) on January 14, wherein a large bonfire called “go-shinka” (sacred flame) is lit. It is believed that warming yourself up by the fire will grant divine protection, helping one avoid sickness and ensuring the safety of the family.
10. Jozenji-dori Street
Residents love visiting this approximately 700m walking path, located near Kotodai-koen Station on the subway, for some relaxation. Japanese zelkova trees line both sides of the street, and it is also dotted with art installations like bronze statues. Several events take place on this street throughout the year, such as the Sendai Aoba Festival, which has been held every May for over 360 years, and the Jazz Festival that takes place in September. This street takes on a magical atmosphere in December thanks to the illumination of the Japanese zelkova trees.
There are many things to love about Sendai, such as its food and tourist spots. Why not pay a visit to the city the next time you travel to Japan?
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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