Home to a population of around one million Sendai is the Tohoku region’s biggest major city and a fantastic hub of nightlife, secret getaways and incredible food. Managing to find the perfect balance between the excitement of the city and the slower pace of country life, Sendai is a unique city and definitely one of the country’s most underrated holiday destinations. Whether you’re wanting to explore Miyagi’s myriad of hot springs, or explore the rich history of Japan, there’s something to do for travellers of every kind. In 2011 the area was the biggest hub affected by the devastating earthquake, however in the years the followed the city has managed to bounce back and is more stunning than ever.
Founded in the 1600s by one of the country’s most powerful lords Date Masamune, many of the attractions in the city are connected to the Masamune family. If you’re interested in learning about the royal history of the city, you can’t miss the opportunity to visit the Zuihoden Mausoleum. Covered with vibrant paintings this, the mausoleum of Date Masamune is an encapsulation of the ornate style of design from the Momoyama Period.
In 1887 the first major train line connecting Tokyo to Sendai was established, and the years that followed saw the city flourish into the impressive business hub that it is today. Though it is designated as one of Japan’s 20 cities, Sendai is one of the country's greenest cities thanks to its massive population of towering trees. During the Sendai Domain locals were encouraged to plant trees in their gardens, as a result, many of the city’s houses, temples, and shrines were home to their own little household forests known in Japanese as yashikirin. This is why today the area is colloquially called ‘the city of trees’.
The city is home to its own very unique culture and festivals including the world famous Sendai Tanabata Festival. Running in the summer month of July, the festival attracts more than two million guests each and every year making it the largest Tanabata Festival in the whole of Japan.
There are a various number of ways to get to the city, all differing in terms of time, prices and method, so no matter your time or financial restrictions chance are there’s an option for you. From Tokyo the city is connected by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen and the JR Akita Shinkansen. Both leave from Tokyo station regularly and take about an hour and a half from city to city. Tickets for either of these routes generally cost 11,200 yen each way, but price may vary depending on peak and off peak seasons.
If you’re happy to take your time getting to Sendai you can also catch a local train route along the JR Tohoku Line. The journey takes about seven hours and involves a number of transfers. Tickets for this trip are 5,940 yen each way. However if you purchase a Seishun Juhachi Kippu ticket, a seasonally available JR railway ticket the trip will cost 2,370 yen each way. There’s also the option to catch the overnight bus. Willer Express, offers direct highway bus route from Tokyo to Sendai running both day and overnight. This trip takes 5.5 hours. And a regular one way fare starts at around 2500 yen each way.
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- Miyagi Pref. Sendaishi Aoba-ku Chuou 1 chome