The City of Sendai

Eating Sushi

Water Closets (updated Nov 3, 2010)

Pictures of Sendai

Sendai is located approximately 300 kilometers (180 miles) north of Tokyo on the Pacific coast of Honshu (the largest of Japan’s four major islands). Sendai lies in the center of the Tohoku (northeast) Region, one of the seven major regions in Japan.

It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach Sendai from Tokyo on the Tohoku Bullet Train (Tohoku Shinkansen) and 1 hour from Narita Airport. Sendai also has regular flights to and from major domestic and international cities.

Sendai is a city with a population of one and a half million, and is the political and economic center of Japan’s Tohoku (northeast) Region. Although Sendai is a large city, it is known throughout Japan as a modern city in harmony with nature. The city possesses beautiful scenery, such as the Hirose-gawa River that runs through central Sendai, and the lush zelkova trees that line its streets. Sendai is known as the “City of Trees.”

Sendai has many universities and is also well known as an academic city. Its universities and research institutes have been contributing to the development of the high-tech industry within Japan.

Brief History

Date Masamune, the first lord of the Sendai Clan (Han), established the foundation of Sendai. In 1600, Masamune started to build his castle in Sendai and implemented new plans regarding the layout and development of the city. The city became so prosperous that a Spanish Ambassador described it as being busier than Tokyo.

In 1613, during the Keicho era, Date Masamune dispatched a mission to Europe to establish trade and invite missionaries. The mission was lead by Masamune’s retainer, Hasekura Tsunenaga, and embarked upon the San Juan Bautista, a western-style sailing ship constructed by the Sendai Clan. The delegation crossed the Pacific, landed at Acapulco, Mexico, and set sail upon the Atlantic Ocean to Madrid and Rome, which made them the first Japanese to cross the Atlantic. The mission was granted an audience with Pope Paul V after arriving in Italy. The journey home sent the mission through Spain and the Philippines. It took almost seven years to complete the journey.


Sendai is blessed by nature and enjoys fruitful harvests from both land and sea. The region has produced unique delicacies since ancient times and its seafood has established a solid reputation for freshness. Fresh sushi and oysters from Matsushima bay are among the most famous Sendai specialties.

Sendai Bay boasts large harvests of oysters. Oysters harvested from Sendai are small but tasty. They are delicious served raw, deep-fried, or as kaki-nabe, a warming winter oyster stew. The season for oysters in Sendai is from October to March.

It’s oyster season!

Beef tongue is one of Sendai’s most famous delicacies. It is typically served thinly sliced and grilled on charcoal, with barley rice and beef tail soup.

Mmmm, beef tongue

Sasa-kamaboko is a processed fish loaf made from pureed white fish (e.g. flounder), which is baked into bamboo leaf (sasa) shaped loaves. This delicacy will tease your appetite with its delicious fish taste and pleasant aroma.

Sake is an alchoholic beverage brewed from rice. Sendai is an outstanding rice-producing area, and is therefore also famous for its excellent sake brewed from quality sake rice.

Local Sake – Jizake

Date Masamune, founder of the Sendai Clan (han) loved the tea ceremony (cha-no-yu), which many people continue to enjoy in present-day Sendai. Sweets are essential accompaniments to tea ceremonies and consequently has lead to the development of many famous sweets in Sendai.

Sweets with tea

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