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Celebrate a significant Samurai

A city founded by a powerful samurai, Sendai is home to vibrant festivals and marvelous natural wonders.

Discover Sendai

Sendai is set in the northeastern region of Honshu Island. Known as the ‘City of Trees’, it is the capital city of Tohoku and is one of Japan’s fifteen largest cities.

Sendai was founded in 1600 by Date Masamune, a powerful feudal lord during the Edo period. Known as the ‘one-eyed dragon’, Date Masamune is still represented in statues and museums around the city, dressed in his iconic black armor and helmet, which were said to be the inspiration for Darth Vader’s costume. Many of the city’s main tourist attractions are intrinsically linked to Date Masamune and continue to honor his contributions to Sendai.

Visit the Zuihoden Mausoleum to see when he was laid to rest, along with his son and grandson. The mausoleum is ornately decorated with intricate woodwork which has been painted in bright reds, blues, yellows, and greens.  The pathways along the routes to the mausoleum are flanked by enormous cedar trees, a representation of the enduring history of the Masamune family. Nearby Zuihoden, a museum contains the personal belongings of the family.  

Among the other attractions synonymous with the Masamune family is the Osaki Hachimangu Shrine. Built in 1607 by Date Masamune, the shrine is dedicated to Hachiman, the Shinto god of war. The shrine features a striking façade of black lacquer and gold leaf, created by craftsmen brought to Sendai by Date Masamune from Kyoto and central Japan. The main building within the shrine is designated a National Treasure of Japan. As both a highly skilled samurai and politician, Date Masamune restored and modernised many historic buildings and built lodging facilities to bring in more visitors to Sendai.  

Travel to the city during August to experience the elegance of the Sendai Tanabata Festival, Japan’s largest Tanabata festival. The Tanabata festival celebrates the crossing of two stars, Altair and Vega, according to Chinese legend. The festival varies from region to region and has changed in Sendai over the centuries. It was revived in Sendai following a recession, and again after World War II, as a way to uplift the people of Sendai. Now also an opportunity to honour family members who have passed, local communities create thousands of colorful streamers from washi paper and bamboo and hang them around the city, making for a spectacular sight. Festivities enter full swing during this period, with traditional dancing, performance, cleansing ceremonies, and fireworks displays occurring in parks and on the banks of the Hirosegawa River. 

In September, musicians fill the streets with sound for Sendai’s Jazz Festival, while dancers and drums come alive in October for the Yosakoi Dance Festival. In wintertime, the 170 zelkova trees which line one of Sendai’s main avenues, Jozen-dori, are decorated with over 600,000 lights for the Pageant of Starlight, which illuminates the city contributing to a wonderful festive spirit.  

Sendai is famous for its incredible food scene, with over 2500 bars and restaurants in its entertainment district. Try local delicacies such as gyutan, or grilled beef tongue, Sankaku abur-age, parcels of tofu that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, or zunda, a popular paste of sweetened edamame used in everything from traditional sweets to savoury pancakes. 

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