Most people know Sendai as the largest city in Japan’s Tohoku region and the capital of Miyagi Prefecture.
What they might not know is that it’s also one of the most famous and historically significant cities in all of Japan.
From its centuries-old temples and shrines to its modern skyscrapers and nightlife, Sendai has something for everyone.
1. Akiu Otaki Falls
The Akiu Otaki Falls are a beautiful set of waterfalls located in Sendai, Japan.
They are known for their stunning natural beauty and for the many legends that surround them.
The falls are said to be the site of a great battle between the gods Susano-o and his sister Amaterasu.
In the Legend – Susano-o was banished from heaven for causing trouble and came to live in Akiu.
One day, he saw Amaterasu bathing in a nearby river and became enraged. He took her clothes and hid them in the Falls, preventing her from leaving.
Amaterasu was so angry that she caused the sun to go dark, plunging the world into darkness.
Susano-o eventually relented and returned Amaterasu’s clothes, and she forgave him.
As a sign of reconciliation, she is said to have created the rainbow which can be seen arcing over the falls to this day.
2. Aoba Castle Ruins
The Aoba Castle ruins are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sendai.
The castle was built in the early 1600s and served as the home of the Date clan, one of the most powerful families in the Tohoku region.
Date Masamune was one of the most famous and successful samurai lords in Japanese history.
He ruled the Sendai domain for over fifty years and was known for his military prowess and shrewd political skills.
He was also a patron of the arts, and his castle was home to many famous artists and craftsmen.
Date Masamune is said to have been a great lover of tea, and the castle ruins now house a museum dedicated to his life and legacy.
The castle was destroyed by an earthquake in 2011, but the ruins are still a beautiful sight.
3. Jozenji Street Jazz Festival
The Jozenji Street Jazz festival is a three-day music festival that takes place in the heart of Sendai, Japan.
The festival features some of the best jazz musicians from all over the world and attracts tens of thousands of music fans each year.
Even Better – In addition to the incredible jazz performances, the festival also features food and wine vendors, making it the perfect place to spend a summer weekend.
4. Sendai City Tomizawa Site Museum
The Sendai City Tomizawa Site Museum displays the fossilized remains of a forest that existed in the area during the Mesozoic era.
The forest was preserved due to the eruption of Mount Tomizawa, which covered the area in lava. The museum also has exhibits on the history and culture of Sendai.
Archaeologists discovered the 20,000-year-old fossilized forest when they were surveyed in 1988.
They discovered signs of human habitation in the forest as well, which indicates that people have been living in the area for a long time.
The Sendai City Tomizawa Site Museum was built to house the fossilized forest and opened in 1996.
The fossilized forest is thought to be a part of the reason why Sendai is known as the “City of Trees”.
5. Osaki Hachimangu Shrine
Osaki Hachimangu Shrine is one of the most popular shrines in Sendai.
It was built in the early 1600s and is dedicated to the God of War, Hachiman.
The shrine is known for its stunning contrast of colors. The black lacquer paired with gold leaf on the front gate is particularly striking.
The shrine is also known for the many festivals and events that are held there throughout the year.
6. Sendai Pageant of Starlight
The Sendai Pageant of Starlight is an annual event that takes place in Sendai, Japan.
The event celebrates the arrival of autumn and features a parade of illuminated floats and costumes.
The floats are decorated with lights and mirrors, which create a beautiful spectacle as they move down the street.
The parade also features dancers and musicians, who add to the festive atmosphere.
What to Expect? In addition to the lights that move through the city, there are thousands of trees decorated from top to bottom with lights that create a magical scene at night.
7. Hot Springs
Hot springs are natural pools of water that occur when water is heated by the earth’s heat.
The water then rises to the surface and is used for bathing or other purposes.
There are several hot springs located in Sendai, Japan.
Some of the most famous ones are:
- Akiu Onsen
- Matsushima Onsen
- Naruko Hot Springs
- Sakunami Onsen
- Togatta Onsen
The hot springs vary in temperature, with some reaching up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are many benefits to soaking in hot springs.
The hot water can help to relax muscles, improve circulation, and relieve stress. It can also help to ease pain and stiffness in joints.
8. Daikannon Statue
The Daikannon Statue is a massive statue of the Buddhist goddess of mercy located in Sendai.
It is the largest statue of its kind in Japan, and it stands at a height of over 100 feet.
Visitors can enter the statue and use the elevator to explore the twelve different levels or take the elevator straight to the top.
At the top, you’ll have panoramic views of Sendai and the Pacific Ocean.
Less-known Fact – The Daikannon Statue is 23 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, making it one of the tallest statues in the world.
If you’re looking to try a local delicacy, give gyūtan a try.
Gyūtan is a grilled beef tongue, a dish that originated in Sendai.
The top of the tongue is scored and then seasoned before being placed on the grill.
Scoring the tongue gives more surface area to season and get crispy, giving the gyūtan a nice texture and even more flavor.
10. Okama Crater
The Okama Crater is a volcanic crater that is 1066 feet across, and 90 feet deep.
The crater is filled with a lake, but before you think this is a good place for a swim, the water is so acidic that there is no wildlife surviving in the lake.
Access to the crater is closed from November until April because the snow on the mountain makes the path difficult to climb, but you should check it out as soon as it opens in April.
If You’re Lucky – You’ll be able to see a wall of snow that built up over the winter.
11. Sendai Tanabata Mitsuri
The Sendai Tanabata Festival is one of Japan’s most popular summer festivals.
It takes place every year on August 6 and 7 and features hundreds of decorated bamboo trees and Paper streamers.
The Sendai Tanabata Festival celebrates the reunion of the stars Vega and Altair.
In Chinese mythology, these stars are represented by two lovers who are only able to meet once a year.
The Sendai Tanabata Festival is based on this legend and celebrates the reunion of these lovers.
12. Sendai International Music Competition
The Sendai International Music Competition is an annual international music competition that takes place in Sendai, Japan.
It is open to musicians of all ages and nationalities and features both solo and ensemble categories.
The competition has been held annually since 1978 and has attracted piano and violin players from all over the world.
13. Birthplace of Japanese Figure Skating
Sendai is the birthplace of Japanese figure skating.
The first official figure skating club in Japan was founded in Sendai in 1892, and the first official competition was held there in 1896.
In 2019 – A monument was installed in Sendai to honor the Olympic world champion figure skater, Yuzuru Hanyu.
Sendai was his hometown, only fitting that it was the birthplace of Japanese figure skating, and he is an Olympic gold medalist.
Sendai is a city in Japan that is known for many things, from its hot springs, and crater, to the Daikannon Statue, and even for cooking beef tongue.
It is also the birthplace of Japanese figure skating and home to an annual international music competition.
No matter what you’re interested in, there’s something for everyone in Sendai!