[Edit this travel guide] About This Destination
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.
[Edit this travel guide] History
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.
[Edit this travel guide] Climate
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.
[Edit this travel guide] Getting There
[Edit this travel guide] By plane
Sendai Airport (SDJ) ) 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  railway, which takes 17-25 minutes to JR Sendai Station and costs ¥630.
[Edit this travel guide] By train
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.
[Edit this travel guide] 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.
123bus  is a company with nightly bus services to Sendai from Tokyo. With English online booking service.
[Edit this travel guide] By boat
Taiheiyo Ferry (太平洋フェリー)  (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.  (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  (Japanese)
[Edit this travel guide] Getting Around
[Edit this travel guide] 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.
[Edit this travel guide] 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"  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.
[Edit this travel guide] 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.
[Edit this travel guide] Sightseeing
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, . 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 (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  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）
[Edit this travel guide] Things To Do
- 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.
[Edit this travel guide] Sports
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
[Edit this travel guide] Restaurants
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.
[Edit this travel guide] Japanese
- 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, Web: http://www.kamekisushi.jp/ 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 this travel guide] International
- Namaskar, +81 22 257-7702, . 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.
[Edit this travel guide] Vegetarian
- 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
[Edit this travel guide] Drink
[Edit this travel guide] Bars
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.  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. 
- 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
[Edit this travel guide] Cafes
- 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.
[Edit this travel guide] Shopping
- 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
[Edit this travel guide] Studying
[Edit this travel guide] Buddhist Meditation
- 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.
[Edit this travel guide] Japanese Language
- Sendai Language School , SLS Bldg.5F 1-16-23, Ichiban-cho, Aoba-ku. +81 22 266-8181, Fax: +81 22 266-8182.
- Sendai International Relations Association (SIRA)  arranges non-profit Japanese classes at various locations in the city .
[Edit this travel guide] Accommodation
[Edit this travel guide] Budget
- Sendai-Dochuan Youth Hostel, 31 Kitayashiki, Onoda, Taihaku-ku. +81 22 982-0014.  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. 
- Sendai Chitose Youth Hostel, 6-3-8 Odawara, Aoba-ku. +81 22 222-6329, Fax: '+81 22 265-7551. 
[Edit this travel guide] Mid-range
- Holiday Inn Sendai, 1-4-1 Shintera, Wakabayashi-ku (6 min from Sendai Station). +81 22 256-5111.  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. 
- Hotelcoms Annex Sendai, 2-8-11 Chuo, Aoba-ku. +81 22 221-8111. . 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.
[Edit this travel guide] Splurge
- Hotel Metropolitan Sendai, 1-1-1 Chuo, Aoba-ku. +81 22 268-2525, Fax: +81 22 268 2521,  E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sendai Royal Park Hotel, 6-2-1 teraoka, izumi-ku
[Edit this travel guide] Nearby Destinations
- Hot springs
- 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).