Top 15 Things To Do Around Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

Things to do around Sendai, Miyagi
Jacquelyn
Jacquelyn 
Updated

At first glance, Sendai looks like any other urban city – soaring skyscrapers, block upon block of offices and apartments, and a population of more than a million people packed into a limited area. Yet the city’s evolution over four decades can be clearly traced if you look close enough.

From a samurai state to a blooming garden city, war ravaged and then earthquake damaged districts, and now the bustling metropolis that you see, Sendai is a time capsule. Here, we bring you a list of the best things to do around Sendai, read on to find out more.

1. Zuihōden Temple

Zuihōden Temple
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Zairon used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If it’s your first time visiting Sendai, one of the top places you shouldn’t miss is the lovely scenes of Zuihoden Temple. Known as the mausoleum of one of the most influential feudal lords during Edo period, Zuihoden Temple is an excellent destination for culture and history enthusiasts. Its ornate style came from the Momoyama period that consists of intricate woodwork and a mixture of bright and vivid colors. Surrounding the temple are cedar trees that add beauty to the whole place. There’s also a museum beside the temple that showcases personal artifacts.

Zuihōden Temple

Address: 23-2 Otamayashita, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi 980-0814, Japan

Website: Zuihōden Temple

Opening hours: 9am - 4:30pm (daily)

2. Hirose River

Hirose River
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Nesnad used under CC BY 4.0

Hirose River is one of the famous rivers in the country that stretches over 45 kilometers (27 miles). It starts from Sekiyama Ridge to Natori River. It’s a perfect destination to visit if you want to witness breathtaking landscapes. Its location in the heart of Sendai City makes it easy to access. Apart from that, there are tons of attractions nearby you can visit after walking the mile-long river. You won’t have to worry about cars on the road since the river has its walkway. Make sure to catch the sun setting on the horizon.

Hirose River

Address: Sendai 980-0823 Miyagi Prefecture

3. Kotodai Park

Kotodai Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user T Ueno used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Kotodai Park is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. It features three different zones, such as History Zone, Busy Zone and, Ikoi Zone. Ikoi Zone features surrounding Himalayan cedar trees and has expansive circular flower beds that create a soothing atmosphere for anyone having a hard day. If you want to see historical spots, the Historic zone is the place to go. For more exciting things, do check out the activities that you can find at Busy Zone. This park really has everything for people of varying interests.

Kotodai Park

Address: 3 Chome-9-2 Honcho, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi 980-0014, Japan

Website: Kotodai Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

4. Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium

Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 広瀬川 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Whether you’re looking for the perfect dating place or a destination to bring your family, you can never go wrong with Sendau Umino-Mori Aquarium. It’s ideal for both a romantic and a family date. One of the things that makes this place lovely is its mission to showcase humans’ amazing connection with the seas. Since its establishment in 2015, the aquarium has continued to undergo a lot of changes to make sure that facilities are up to date. Make sure to watch the performances of dolphins and penguins during the exhibits.

Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium

Address: Japan, 〒983-0013 Miyagi, Sendai, Miyagino Ward, Nakano, 4 Chome−6

Website: Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

5. Sendai Toshogu Shrine

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Tohoku Tourism on Sunday, April 15, 2018

One of the things you will notice when exploring Japan is the number of Shinto shrines all over the place. Whether it’s in the city center, a rural village, there’s always a quaint building in a grove of trees that comes with a torii gate. If you happen to be in Sendai, you can witness one of these in Sendai Toshogu Shrine. Its location is in the political center of Sendai Domai, which makes it accessible. One of the best things about visiting the shrine is that you will get a moment to relax and take in the beauty of the surrounding nature.

Sendai Toshogu Shrine

Address: 1 Chome-6-1 Toshogu, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi 981-0908, Japan

Website: Sendai Toshogu Shrine

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5pm (daily)

6. Yagiyama Zoological Park

Yagiyama Zoological Park
Source: Snappygoat

If you’re planning to witness the beautiful scenery of Miyagi Prefecture with your family, one of the adventures you shouldn’t miss is its exciting Yagiyama Zoological Park. It’s a perfect destination to bring the kids with you. It has all the highlights that will delight you, including elephants, penguins, tigers, pandas, and birds. There are tons of animal exhibits to watch for a reasonable price. Although the layout of the park can be a little confusing, you won’t have to worry. The park provides maps and signs for tourists. You can also enjoy a tasty meal at its on-site restaurant.

Yagiyama Zoological Park

Address: DJapan, 〒982-0801 Miyagi, Sendai, Taihaku Ward, Yagiyamahoncho, 1 Chome−43

Website: Yagiyama Zoological Park

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 9am - 4pm (closed on Mon)

7. Sendai City Museum

Sendai city museum01s3200
Source: Photo by user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

The first stop is the Sendai City Museum, which keeps a detailed documentation of the Date Clan and its relationship to the city. Samurai Lord Date Masamune, known better as the “one-eyed dragon”, founded Sendai in 1600. With the fearsome feudal lord building his castle in the middle of the town, the once sleepy fishing village exploded in population and trade.

The City Museum first opened in 1961 on the former grounds of the Sendai Castle. It boasts a rotating display of more than 90,000 artifacts, including weapons, ceremonial pieces, and artworks, evincing the illustrious history of Sendai during the Edo period. Many of these materials were donated directly by descendants and supporters of the Date Clan. Beyond the main exhibitions, the museum also has a library containing a vast database of information. As you will soon find, the legacy of the Date Clan lingers in Sendai to this day.

Sendai City Museum

Address: 26 Kawauchi, Aoba-ku, Sendai

Website: Sendai City Museum

8. Sendai Castle

aoba castle
Source: Photo by user Sendai Blog used under CC BY 2.0

Sendai Castle was severely damaged during the anti-feudal bloodlust during the Meiji Period, and then again by the bombs during WWII. While only the outer stone walls and guard tower remain of the original fortifications, a magnificent statue of Masamune in full armor, astride a rearing horse, reminds visitors of the site’s former glory.

The remnants of Sendai Castle can be found 20min from the museum, on the top of Mount Aoba. Rising 100 m (328 ft) above the town, the hill was strategically chosen for the defense of the stronghold. Today, the vantage point offers a fantastic view of the sprawling city below.

Sendai Castle

Address: 1 Kawauchi, Aoba-ku, Sendai

Website: Sendai Castle

9. Osaki Hachiman-gu Shrine

Osaki Hachiman-gu 20130819a
Source: Photo by user Tak1701d used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Osaki Hachiman-gu Shrine houses the Date Clan’s patron deity, Hachiman. Aside from being Sendai’s guardian, he is also the Shinto God of War. The shrine is a designated National Treasure, and this honored status is evident from its grand design. Black lacquered wood gilded with gold details form the external structure, while the ornate painted screens inside further allude to the wealth and power of the Date Clan.

On 14 January each year, thousands of half-naked pilgrims throng to Osaki Hachiman-gu in a festival known as the Donto Mastumi. A huge bonfire is lit, and the smoke spiraling to the skies symbolizes the riddance of bad luck and unwanted memories. Even if you are unable to make it for this unique ritual, do visit the shrine for a blessing of health and good fortune.

Osaki Hachiman-gu Shrine

Address: 4-6-1 Hachiman, Aoba-ku, Sendai

Website: Osaki Hachiman-gu Shrine

10. Jozenji Street

JozenjiSt Nov24 2007
Source: Photo by user Kumamushi used under CC BY-SA 3.0

It may be hard to imagine, but this concrete-scape that is Sendai was once the ‘City of Trees’. The last feudal lord of Sendai encouraged his people to cultivate forests in their backyards for wood, that being a highly demanded material and fuel source then. As a result, lush foliage bloomed in houses, around shrines, and just about everywhere on the streets.

While most of the city’s greenery was lost during the WWII air raids, visitors to Sendai can get a glimpse of it along Jozenji Street. Rows of Zelkova trees are planted here in the heart of the city, in remembrance of the former landscape. The rounded crowns of the Zelkovas paint a picturesque scene that changes with each passing month. Bright green gives way to warm copper tones, then a blazing red before they shed for a new season. Best of all, this scenery can be enjoyed while you pop in and out of the stores in this shopping and financial district.

Jozenji Street

Address: From 1 Chuo to 2 Omachi, Aoba-ku, Sendai

Website: Jozenji Street

11. Sendai Mediatheque

Toyo Ito - Sendai Mediatheque - Photo 0003

The Mediatheque is a library cum gallery that signifies Sendai’s leap into the future. Conceived of as a ‘barrier-free’ zone, the resources and spaces in the building are designed to facilitate exchanges between people of different cultures, abilities, technical background and so on.

The Mediatheque’s glass cube façade is the architect’s bold interpretation of how technology might seep and flow into our modern spaces, with each level connected by skeletal tubes that traverse the height of the building. Challenging as it is to stop marveling at the steel and glass ingenuity that is the Mediatheque, do spend time to discover the cinema, exhibition halls, and various other media-related materials in the libraries.

Sendai Mediatheque

Address: 2-1 Kasuga-Machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai

Website: Sendai Mediatheque

12. Miyagi Museum of Art

宮城県美術館本館05f
Source: Photo by user scarletgreen used under CC BY 2.0

A cool silence envelopes you the moment you enter the cavernous main hall of the Miyagi Museum of Art. As you venture deeper, you will find collections by artists hailing from the surrounding Miyagi Prefecture and Tohoku Region, and the occasional temporary exhibit by their Western contemporaries. These works, originating from the Meiji Period to the present day, range from oil paintings to handicrafts, prints to carvings. The highlight of the museum is in the open-air courtyard where visitors can examine sculptures by the esteemed Churyo Sato, a bronze sculptor whose career spans 70 years.

Impressive as it is, the Miyagi Museum is not just for trained eyes. As part of its mission to make art approachable, the museum also offers open workshops for anyone who wishes to draw, sculpt, print and more.

Miyagi Museum of Art

Address: 34-1 Kawauchi-Motohasekura, Aoba-ku, Sendai

Website: Miyagi Museum of Art

13. Tomizawa Site Museum

Sendai City Tomizawa Site Museum1
Source: Photo by user jp:利用者:Asenas10 used under CC BY 3.0

If you thought ancient Japan was fascinating, wait till you get to the Tomizawa Site Museum. The museum is a built-to-purpose shelter for an archaeological site dating back to the Glacial Period, more than 20,000 years ago. Fossilized roots and tools scattered around a remarkably preserved campsite paint a vivid picture of life in the Paleolithic era. To augment the experience of being hurled back in time, scenes of a glacial forest are projected on the walls periodically to give visitors a sense of the harsh environment then.

The second floor of the Tomizawa museum offers details on the flora and fauna that thrived and disappeared along with the prehistoric period. It also explains how the Paleolithic people crafted and harnessed the resources around them for survival. In short, the Tomizawa Site Museum is an unexpected foray into the history of human civilization, smack in a quintessential Japanese city.

Tomizawa Site Museum

Address: 4-3-1 Nagamachi-minami, Taihaku-ku, Sendai

Website: Tomizawa Site Museum

14. Sendai City War Reconstruction Memorial Hall

Sendai City War Reconstruction Memorial Hall
Source: Photo by user 広瀬川 used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Sendai suffered extensive damages from the carpet bombs of WWII. Aside from the destruction of the historic centre, the city also lost several cultural monuments, including Sendai Castle and the mausoleum of the Date Clan.

The War Reconstruction Memorial Hall is the city’s attempt to remember the grave losses suffered by Sendai during the years of conflict. Here, you can find military relics such as uniforms, medals and weapons. A replica of a bomb shelter amongst other objects reveal a life lived in perpetual fear. More than just the tragedy though, the memorial hall also reminds residents and visitors of Sendai’s tenacious spirit – an ability to survive regardless of how dire the circumstances may seem – through extensive documentation of the post war recovery efforts.

Sendai City War Reconstruction Memorial Hall

Address: 2-12-1 Omachi, Aoba Ward, Sendai

Website: Sendai City War Reconstruction Memorial Hall

15. Akiu Onsen

Akiu Falls Valley 2008
Source: Photo by user Crown of Lenten rose used under CC BY 3.0

Akiu Onsen is located on the outskirts of Sendai, on the banks of the Natori-gawa River. Just a 45 min drive away from the city, the ancient onsen village is surrounded by an emerald vista of forests and mountains. Walking along the river, you will come across the unique formations of the Rai-rai Kyo Gorge, the undulating Futakuchi Valley, and most breath-taking of all, the Akiu Waterfalls that cascade from a height of 55 m (180 ft). The waterfall is said to be one of Japan’s three most beautiful waterfalls. From the basin at its foot, you can feel the cool spray washing lightly over your face, as you gaze upon its full scale.

There are several hotels in the vicinity of Akiu if you choose to spend the night. Let the therapeutic heat of the spring waters rejuvenate you, after spending all that time in the city’s bustle.

Akiu Onsen

Address: Akiu-machi, Taihaku-ku, Sendai

Website: Akiu Onsen

A city, evolving

Sendai is undoubtedly a modern city, with luxurious shopping streets and a fast-paced financial district. Nevertheless, a strong sense of culture and tradition remain palpable. The people of Sendai honor their history, even as they embrace the advent of modernity.

The best way to tour Sendai is on the Loople, a vintage bus that passes through all the major landmarks. Starting at Sendai station, you can choose to hop on and off at your own pace, or enjoy a guided tour on the ride.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Jacquelyn is a writer based in sunny Singapore. Growing up, the East-meets-West culture of her birthplace never ceases to fascinate her. Some of her best adventures include sharing a toilet with a...Read more

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