Sendai

Sendai (仙台) is the largest city (about 1,000,000 people) in the Tohoku region of Japan's Honshu island.

Understand

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.

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 significance. 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.

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.

Get in

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.

By train

Sendai is a major station on the Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train) line, some two hours from Tokyo. The line continues north to Morioka and Aomori.

The most frequent ride from Tokyo is on the all-reserved Hayabusa (はやぶさ), which makes only a few stops and runs to Sendai in 1 1/2 hours (¥11,200). The Komachi (こまち) service bound for Akita is coupled to the Hayabusa train, but bear in mind that Komachi cars are slightly narrower, and therefore, so is seating.

If you have a little more time on your hands, or if any of the above trains are sold out, the more frequent Yamabiko (やまびこ) services are a good alternative. The fare is slightly cheaper for reserved seating (¥10,890), but the Yamabiko trains also offer a few cars of unreserved seating which are cheaper still (¥10,370). The Yamabiko serves more stations - and in some cases, ALL stations - so the expected travel time will be about 30-40 minutes longer than the Hayabusa and Komachi.

A few all-reserved Hayate (はやて) services remain on the route, and these are another alternative. The Hayate trains are only slightly slower than the Hayabusa and Komachi, but cost the same as the Yamabiko.

The Japan Rail Pass and JR East Rail Pass is valid for Ordinary and Green Cars on the all of the bullet trains mentioned above. On the other hand, rail passes will only cover the basic fare if you are willing to try out the premium first class seating on the Hayabusa called "GranClass". To use "GranClass" the limited express and GranClass fare has to be paid (¥13,990 from Tokyo). Without a rail pass, "GranClass" costs ¥19,930 between Tokyo and Sendai.

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 ¥6,210.

Same companies also run a line to Niigata across the mountains. There are five or six daytime buses that run for 4 hours and cost ¥4,500.

An overnight bus service also runs directly from Yokohama and Shinagawa, costing ¥6,500 from Yokohama (6 1/2 hours) and ¥6,200 from Shinagawa (5 3/4 hours).

Kintetsu runs an overnight bus service, the Forest, from Osaka and Kyoto to Sendai. The one-way ride costs approximately ¥12,000 and takes 12 1/4 hours from Osaka and 10 3/4 hours from Kyoto.

Willer Express is a company with nightly bus services to Sendai from Tokyo. With English online booking service.

Meitetsu runs an over night bus service from Sendai to Nagoya. Departure time is 9:30PM and arrival in Nagoya is 7AM.

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.

Getting there: Ferry terminal is located a ten minute taxi ride away from Nakanosakae Station (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.

Get around

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 2015.

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 ¥600 for a whole day, or ¥250 for one ride. Normal route buses have fares based on the distance travelled and usually cost from ¥170 (the basic fare) to ¥300 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 -- ¥5,000 card has ¥5,850-worth of fare on it. There are two major bus companies, but for all practical intents and purposes they are indistinguishable.

By bicycle

Even if you're alone you can rent a "DATE BIKE"

Bicycles can be rented for 1000¥ a day or 500¥ from 2PM, they are called DATE BIKE, you will need Internet access to rent one.

A few interesting cycling itineraries can found on the DATE BIKE website, explanations are in Japanese but maps are understandable.

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 on their 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.

See

Sendai is not what you'd call a tourist city - it was flattened in the war and rebuilt after that so there aren't many historical sights. Gozain Sendai Volunteer English Interpreter and Tour Guide Group will give you a free guided tour (no charge for the guides) of the sights in and around Sendai.

Aoba Castle Gate

Do

Buy

Kokeshi

Eat

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.

Japanese

Gyutan teishoku

Lunch is buffet style. Reservations essential (to avoid disappointment). Lunch starts from 3234 yen. Dinner courses start from 6930 yen. A la carte is also available..

There is "Shushi road" in Sendai station. At there you can enjoy delicious Shushi in unexpensive price.

International

Vegetarian

Halal

Drink

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.

Learn

Buddhist Meditation

Japanese Language

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Go next

Routes through Sendai

Shin-Aomori Ichinoseki ← Kurikoma-Kōgen ← Furukawa  N  S  Shiroishi-Zaō → Fukushima Tokyo
Morioka Matsushima  N  S  Shiroishi Fukushima
Morioka Ichinoseki  N  S  Shiroishi Fukushima


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, January 01, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.