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Sendai, while nowhere near as big as Tokyo, offers travellers the best of both worlds – you get small-town hospitality in, well, a big town – without the cold-shoulder reception one finds southward in that ‘even bigger city’. Sendai is famous for souvenirs of zunda, a mildly sweet, bright green paste made from soybeans, and gyutan, cow’s tongue. People are refreshingly friendly here – a bit of a paradox, as Sendai was demolished by Allied bombing during WWII. Lucky for tourists, residents have long forgotten about keeping any grudges, and the city’s wide, tree-lined streets make for relaxing strolls. Buildings such as the Mediateque, with its see-through glass and giant columns, defy description. Wow.
Sendai’s Jōzenji Jazz Festival is a two-day, open-air extravaganza in early September; the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri tops that, though, with two million visitors each year.
The city also has a compelling history as the stomping ground of the remarkable feudal lord Date Masamune (1567–1636), known as the One-Eyed Dragon. A number of intriguing sites around town pay tribute to his overarching presence, as does the name ‘Sendai’ – it means ‘1000 generations’, apparently an indication of how long Masamune felt his clan would rule.
Sendai marks the last place south of Sapporo that you can find a good English bookshop, and is an ideal base to arrange tickets, exchange your rail pass, check email and see some bright lights before heading to nearby rural onsen or along the coast.
Last updated: Mar 11, 2011
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14 November 2012
It’s been over a year and a half since a 9.0 earthquake struck Japan’s northeast coast, followed by a deadly...
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