After completing our short journeys in Aomori and Hirosaki, we continued moving south to Sendai using the Flexible 5 Day JR East Tohoku Area Pass (Japan Pick Up) that I got it from KLOOK. One thing I like about this pass, it is very flexible where you can pick any of the 5 days (within 14 days period) to ride on shinkansen or local train travel around Tohoku regions.
READ: Things to do in AOMORI
READ: Things to do in HIROSAKI
For full itinerary, check out Japan Trip 2018: 9D8N in Aomori, Sendai & Tokyo
Sendai is about 1.5 hours away from Tokyo on Tohoku or Akita Shinkasen, so day trip is quite possible. Sendai is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, also the largest city in Tohoku regions. You may know Sendai from the catastrophe that had landed onto coastal outskirt of the city on March 11, 2011. But this charming city is more than the saddening tsunami disaster.
Sendai is also known as the city of trees. Here, you will be able to find there are many trees lined on the streets and parks. We explored Sendai’s Tourist Spot using Loople Sendai – it is a cute retro-looking sightseeing bus that makes a loop through the tourist spots in central Sendai and it takes about 70 minutes per loop leaving from Sendai Station and back to Sendai Station.
This Loople Sendai can be boarded from Sendai Station at West Exit Bus Pool Stop 16. We purchased the One-day Loople Sendai Pass and Subway combo ticket at ¥920; if you wished to use the bus ride only, the One-day Loople Sendai Pass is priced at ¥630. With this pass, you will be able to take the bus ride unlimitedly and enjoy some discounts at certain facilities.
Where to purchase Loople Sendai Pass:
From Sendai Station’s West Exit, go down the Bus pool stairs, and look for the red bus stop with the Loople Sendai mark.
1. Take a visit to Zuihoden瑞鳳殿
As we had only about 5 hours left before the Loople Sendai stop functioning for the day, we picked a few attractions and this is our first stop to go.
Zuihoden 瑞鳳殿 is the final resting place of the members of DATE clan including the first feudal lord Date Masamune, also the most powerful one. Zuihoden is an extremely elegant, gorgeously decorated architecture of the early Edo period, featuring the elaborated woodwork and richly coloured. The path in this area is surrounded by massive cedar trees; take a stroll over here and you will feel all your negatives charges are released into the woods!
Date Tadamune and his mausoleum Kansenden, also one of the national treasures.
About 15 minutes from Sendai Station by Loople Sendai Bus. Get off at bus stop #4.
2. Visit to the historical Site of Sendai Castle
This is the site where Lord Date Masamune built the Sendai Castle, which is also known as Aoba Castle; the castle was built in 17th century and this site was designated as national historical site in 2003.
From here, you will be able to get a panoramic view of Sendai from the place where a statue of Lord Masamune on horseback stands.
Horse-riding Statue of Date Masamune
Gokoku Shrine which is just a short distance away from the Horse-riding Statue of Date Masamune
About 20 minutes away from Sendai Station by Loople Sendai Bus. Get off at bus stop #6 and take a short walk up to the Aoba Castle.
Aoba Castle Museum admission fee is ¥700 ; only ¥500 with Loople Sendai Pass.
3. Shop for Sendai’s souvenirs
I could resisted these cute stuffs and spent a little on them in the souvenir shop nearby the Gokoku Shrine
4. Pray in Osaki Hachimangu Shrine大崎八幡宮
Built in 1607 by lord Date Masamune. It is a majestic shrine pavilion with vivid coloured carvings on a base of deep black urushi lacquer. It is the one of the great examples the Momoyama architecture style of gongen-tsukuri in Japan.
Be prepared to climb the long staircase up and then a short walk to get to the shrine.
Didn’t manage to get a majestic view of the shrine as the main hall of the shrine was covered during my visit back then in Summer 2018.
Get off at bus stop #12 by Sendai Loople loop bus; or about 15 minutes’ walk from Kunimi Station on JR Senzan Line.
Entrance fee: FOC
Opens all year long
5. Stroll along Jozenji Dori Avenue
Jozenji Dori Avenue is lined with majestic green zelkova trees, also a road that symbolizes Sendai, the “City of Trees”. There are a lot of shops and restaurants along the both sides of the avenue. You may enjoy shopping as well as a scenic view of greens at this area.
Girls trip with BFF is always fun!
Get off at bus stop #15 by Sendai Loople loop bus.
6. Eat Gyutan in Tanya Zenjirou たんや善治郎
Gyutan is the famous dish of Sendai and one must really not leave Sendai without trying this famous dish over here! A Japanese friend of mine highly recommended this restaurant – Tanya Zenjirou, which is specializing in salt-grilled beef tongue (shioyaki gyutan).
Zenjiro hand-grinds the salt to make powdery form and this salt is used to flavour the beef tongue. The beef tongue is then grilled over the charcoal fire and bincho charcoal is used to create the crisp on high heat.
I ordered the ¥2,400 set that came with 3 pieces of beef tongue which were then sliced into 9 equal thickness of cuts; served along with pickled vegetables, clear beef soups (superb!!!) and a bowl of fluffy white rice! I had to say the grilled beef tongues were extremely springy bouncy and delicious! Slurp!!!
About 1 minute walk from JR Sendai West Exit
Tanya Zenjirou たんや善治郎
3/F AK Building, 1-8-38 Chuo, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 〒980-0021
7. Second round dinner in Umai Sushikan
As my friend does not take beef, I accompanied her for a second round dinner and we picked a sushi place!
Tokujyo Nigiri (¥2,350) and a beer for her!
Hotate Shoyu Yaki (¥ 550) and sake for me!
And we added on engawa nigiri. Yum!
8. Drink Zunda shake!!!
What is zunda shake? It is actually edamame shake, one of the specialty foods in Sendai and it is very nutritious. You will find a number of shops here selling Zunda, which is edamame made snack or drinks.
Look at the queue!!!
I had my Zunda Shake take away from Zunda Saryo, blending of special zunda in vanilla shake made using delicious milk. Verdict? YES, I LOVE IT!
Had it pair with our ekiben too!
Here is another zunda snack – dango, we bought one to try during our visit to Gokoku Shrine.
9. Observe the charming night of Sendai
If you have time, you may hop over to the observation deck of the AER Building next to the station. The observation deck is FOC!
10. Cheers in the local whisky distillery – Nikka Miyagikyo Distillery
Nikka Miyagikyo Distillery is located about 40 minutes train ride from Sendai plus another 5 minutes bus ride on shuttle bus in Sakunami, this distillery is founded by Masataka Taketsuru who spent his whole life creating the first Japanese Whiskey distillery in Hokkaido and then the second one here, outside the city of Sendai.
The guided tour is FOC and you will get to sample 3 drinks of their products, limited to one glass each brand.
We also paid to sample the aged and rare whiskey at the bar area. I was really excited with my whiskey purchase. Love the rare pieces in this bar as they are all now no longer available for purchase in the market. And I successfully converted my friend to a whiskey person too! YAY!
From Sendai, take the train on JR Senzan Line and get off at Sakunami Station.
The bus ride from the station takes about 5 minutes ride or 25-minutes’ walk from JR Sakunami Station to the facility.
Entrance fee: FOC
Nikka Miyagikyo Whiskey Distillery
Nikka 1, Aoba, Sendai City, Miyagi
Opening hours: 9am to 4.30pm
TEL: +81 (0)22-395-2865 (9:00am-4:30pm)
FAX: +81 (0)22-395-2305