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After exploring Nihombashi, an area that prospered as the center of Edo, visit the gateway to Tohoku, Sendai. Here, you will visit the vibrantly-colored Zuihoden, which is dedicated to the legendary feudal lord Date Masamune, once the ruler of this land. Follow the footsteps of history still left in the city.

Official Tokyo Travel Guide

Local government official website

Sendai, Japan, is one of the cities that better represent the spirit and history of the Japanese Empire. If visitors want to discover the rich heritage of Japan, its culture and true essence, a visit to Sendai is a must.Most of the tourists visiting Japan start from Tokyo and have their first contact with the Japanese tradition and history, but in order to enjoy a deeper experience of the true Japanese culture, we suggest to get on the train (or plane) and discover the several attractions the city of Sendai has to offer.Here you can find a route that will guide you from your arrival in Tokyo to Sendai, Japan: land of feudal Japan legacy.


  • Traveled : November, 2017 Aubrie Engman
    Photographer, Travel Blogger
    Reside in USA
  • Traveled : November, 2017 Joshua Brown
    Reside in Tokyo
    Home country: USA

Los Angeles International Airport

JAL161 Examine the directions from your country

  • Aubrie Engman

    Japan Airlines is now one of my favorite airlines I have experienced! There were many highlights including two meals and snacks provided. There was plenty of legroom, more than most flights and there were many entertainment options!

Narita International Airport

Narita Express

  • Aubrie Engman

    I used JR East Pass (Tohoku Area) on the Narita Express from the airport to central Tokyo and also to visit Sendai by Shinkansen and it was very easy to use. Trains were very convenient, spacious and clean. There was plenty of room for luggage as well.

Tokyo Metropolitan Area

Day1 - Visiting Tokyo to Sendai




The Nihombashi area, known as a "town for merchants," flourished in the Edo period centered on the Five Routes, which converged there. It continues to be the center of commerce and finance even today, with streets lined with offices, department stores, long-standing shops, etc.
On Chuo-dori Street, visitors may enjoy seeing Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store, known as Japan's first department store, and other famous buildings of Tokyo, including the nationally designated important cultural properties of Takashimaya Nihombashi Store and the Bank of Japan Headquarters.
There are also numerous long-standing and famous specialty stores and traditional restaurants founded in the Edo period.
Ningyocho, retaining the atmosphere of Shitamachi, has many long-standing businesses from the Edo period, and it is also renowned for Suitengu Shrine dedicated to prayers of conception and easy childbirth, and the ceramics, doll and pickled vegetable fairs synonymous with their respective seasons.
  • Aubrie Engman

    We visited Nihonbashi bridge which was very historic and from the Edo period. We did a stamp workshop while in Nihonbashi which was very fun and a cool way to learn more about Japanese culture. They wrote out our names and then wrote down possible Kanji characters we could use with their meanings so we had the chance to pick something meaningful to us!

    The décor was very lovely at Hounen Manpuku and it was in a great location by the river. We were given bento boxes, but they were quite fancy with many delicious options including sashimi, tempura, miso soup, hot tea, rice and vegetable soup and they were all very tasty!

  • Joshua Brown

    Nihonbashi is a famous historical area of Tokyo. Now dominated by fancy department stores and shopping complexes, you get can a glimpse of traditional Japan through specialty stores. We grated katsuobushi (bonito flakes) at Ninben! We also made a hanko (name stamp), and staff helped us select kanji to represent our names.

    The food was good! The service was fine, atmosphere was relaxed. We sat on the patio, and even though it was raining that day, sitting next to the river created an enjoyable atmosphere.

Tokyo Station → Yotsuya Station
JR Chuo Line (Local train)
Youtsuya Station → Yoyogi Station
40 minutes

Meiji Jingu Shrinemore

Meiji Jingu Shrine
The shrine was established in 1920 as a dedication to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and the Empress Dowager Shōken. The extensive forest around the shrine in the center of the city was created artificially by planting a hundred thousand trees donated from people all over the country.
The shrine attracts the greatest number of worshippers every year during "hatsumode" over the New Year period.
  • Aubrie Engman

    I highly recommend going Meiji-Jingu Shrine to get away from the city and to find peace in the forest and learn more about the Shinto religion. We learned how to visit shrine such as religious believes and rules. We also saw many kids in kimono for their children's festival.

  • Joshua Brown

    Meiji Jingu is a beautiful shrine, though not too ancient, shrine that should be on everyone's Tokyo list. Parts of the shrine were under renovation when we visited, but that didn't dampen the atmosphere at all. The construction was covered with tarps printed to look like the shrine, very cool! Loved the tree that is two but looks like one and the ema (wooden plaques) with wishes on it. We were lucky and happened to see a miko (girl working at the shrine) demonstrating how they create their elaborate hairdos.

30 minutes

Nezu Museummore

Nezu Museum
The museum was founded in 1941 to preserve and display Japanese and East Asian antique art from the collection of its founder, Nezu Kaichiro, a businessman whose career included being President of the Tobu Railway Co., Ltd. It reopened in October 2009, newly designed by Kengo Kuma. The expanse of this open, relaxing space is an enjoyable place to appreciate art.
The lush 17,000 square meters of Japanese garden creates an oasis in the city, where visitors can take pleasure in the passage of the seasons.
  • Aubrie Engman

    Nezu Museum had offered a Samurai family's personal collection including many Samuria swords, Buddhist scripts, tea ceremony items and more as a special exhibition when we visited. One of my favoite parts was the garden outside- they were so beautiful and peaceful and there were so many fall colors. There was also a small pond and a shrine.

    Dinner was at Teyandei-Omoya - a traditional Iazaya place that looked like a house which was very fun. They also had an area with tatami seats which is definitely a very fun way to experience the culture.

  • Joshua Brown

    Nezu Museum has a large, elaborate Japanese garden, the perfect place to stroll about. If you can time it to see the changing leaves or cherry blossoms, it's even more beautiful. Inside the museum, the space is beautiful and relaxing. Exhibits change periodically, but the Buddhist statues and sutras were particularly good.

    The Teyandei-Omoya's vibe is cool, like a hidden restaurant. The service was fine, and food is an interesting twist on traditional izakaya fare. At the exit, they offered a choice of a fizzy bath tablet (nyuyokuzai) or candy, I chose the nyuyokuzai, so cool! Never been offered that at a restaurant before.

Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
Omotesando Station → Akasakamitsuke Station
Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line
Akasakamitsuke Station → Tokyo Station
30 minutes

Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo

  • Aubrie Engman

    The hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo had really great guest service, comfortable beds, a very nice breakfast buffet with a great view of the city.

  • Joshua Brown

    Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo is a modern-looking hotel with a very nice lobby. The room was clean, very nice. It's small of course, but that is normal in Japan. The bathtub was a good size though, made use of the fizzy bath tablet I picked up at Teyandei-Omoya.

Day2 - From Tokyo to Sendai, Japan’s City of History


9:08 Tokyo Stationmore

9:08 Tokyo Station
October 2012 saw completion of the preservation and renovation work on the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building. The red brick facade long loved as the symbol of Tokyo Station has made a comeback, along with the history and grandeur of the original building dating nearly a hundred years back. The occasion also saw the reopening of Tokyo Station Hotel and Tokyo Station Gallery. The former is the only hotel situated within an important cultural property of Japan. The interior is designed in a sophisticated, classical European style to blend with the splendor of the Marunouchi Building exterior.

JR Shinkansen Hayabusa 9(JR EAST PASS)

  • Aubrie Engman

    This was my first time on a shinkansen train so it was very fun. There is a lot of leg room and plenty of room for your bags. The seats also recline quite far. The ride to Sendai just takes about under two hours.

  • Joshua Brown

    The Shinkansen bullet train is fantastic, fast and clean. No cumbersome security or check-in procedures, just grab your ticket and get on board. The vibrations are like a lullaby to me, it's so comfortable that I usually fall asleep quite fast. There is plenty of leg room even for me (I'm 6'5''/195cm tall)

10:40 Sendai Stationmore

10:40 Sendai Station
Sendai Station is a central sightseeing location in Tohoku, and allows visitors to gain access to tourist attractions all throughout Tohoku. Yamadera, Matsushima, and Hiraizumi can all be reached within 1 hour by using JR train lines. Sendai Station has many souvenir shops selling Sendai specialties. The Gyutan-dori and Sushi-dori streets have a lineup of stores where you can eat beef tongue, a local specialty, and sushi. These shops have multilingual menus, making this a friendly spot for visitors from overseas. The zunda shakes served at the Zunda Saryo restaurant are a blend of special zunda green soy beans. It's an original shake with a fun bumpy texture that can't be found elsewhere. Be sure to give this delicious beverage a try as shakes are freshly made at the shop.

Loople Sendai
Sendai Station → Zuihoden Mausoleum
About 15 minutes

Zuihoden Mausoleummore


Zuihoden Mausoleum
Zuihoden is a luxurious and gorgeous mausoleum built in 1637, the year after the passing of Date Masamune, the first feudal lord of Sendai Domain. It was designated as a national treasure in 1931, but was burned down during World War 2. It was reconstructed after the war in its current state. Stairs on a gentle incline near the entrance and a grove of quiet cedar trees make for a perfect setting to take a walk.
  • Aubrie Engman

    We were able to learn even more about Date Masamune's life and this area contained his and some of his relatives mausoleums. The details on them were actually quite beautiful and intricate with a lot of hidden symbolism. We also visited the museum there which contained many artifacts from his life.

  • Joshua Brown

    Zuihoden is a complex of elaborate, Buddhist-influenced building built to house the remains of the renowned and powerful lord Date Masamune who ruled Sendai and two of his descendants. It's really spectacular. The decors themselves are studies in Buddhist art. A museum on site houses historical artifacts, including Date Masamune's hair.

Loople Sendai
Zuihoden Mausoleum → Site of Sendai Castle
About 7 minutes

  • Aubrie Engman

    Sendai is famous for their beef tongue so I decided to try two different flavors- salted and soy at Date no Gyutan Honpo and they were both delicious. I also really loved the soup that came with it as well, the flavor of the broth was incredible.

    We headed to the grounds where the Sendai Castle used to lie. We got to learn about the history of the renowned and powerful lord Date Masamune who ruled Sendai. There was an incredible statue there dedicated to him. This area had some of the best views in all of Sendai!

  • Joshua Brown

    Gyutan is beef tongue, which is not very popular in America. But I advise giving it a try, the way they prepare it in Japan it's delicious. Gyutan offered a thick-cut beef tongue, a specialty in Sendai.

    Castle is a bit of a misnomer, they have some gates and buildings, but it's mostly the ruins of Sendai Castle. Numerous statues, including a giant eagle that was knocked off it's pedestal, are great for taking pictures. The ruins site is on a hall, and the views of Sendai are spectacular. You can even see the Sendai Daikannon (the huge Kannon statue) in the edge of Sendai city.

Loople Sendai
Site of Sendai Castle stop → Sendai Mediatheque
About 30 minutes

Sendai Mediathequemore

Sendai Mediatheque
This building with glass facades on all sides stands out prominently on Jozenji-dori Avenue. It is a public institution that provides a base for a variety of cultural activities, mainly related to art and moving images. At the same time, it supports activities that are related to various media.
It was designed by Toyo Ito, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, and the building itself is celebrated in its own right.
  • Aubrie Engman

    The sendai mediatheque was completed in 2001 and is a multi-use public facility containing many areas including a library and an art gallery. The architecure is one of a kind.

    Sendai is called the city of trees and we walked along a Jozenji-dori street in these beautiful Ichibancho areas with so many trees, during December it is very famous for SENDAI pageant of Starlight because they light them up for Christmas!

    The atmosphere of Izakaya Tsudasengyoten was really great, the service was fantastic, our server was incredibly attentive. We tried so many great foods including fried squid and oysters. It was really fun because we got to try our hand at opening the shell and getting the oysters out ourselves!

  • Joshua Brown

    The building design is fascinating, really worth seeing. Instead of traditional beams, its supported by “tubes” and a honeycomb steel flooring. The tubes each have a function, like hosing stairs of ventilating the building. A double glass “skin” makes for efficient heating and cooling. Sendai Mediatheque houses a library and other civic endeavors like a paper recycling project that is just getting started.

    Ichibancho is the main shopping road leading to Sendai Station. You can find the usual “shotengai” favorites, like restaurants, local stores and an arcade or two.

    Good food, service, sake. Really like nakaochi, it's rare to eat that. Our set course meal was a veritable feast that we couldn't quite finish. One of their signature dishes is seri nabe, a Sendai specialty featuring a parsley-like vegetable. It's a good way to eat some green vegetables!

15 minutes

Hotel Metropolitan Sendai

  • Aubrie Engman

    The Hotel Metropolitan Sendai was in a great and convenient location right next to the train station and in the heart of the city. The room was incredibly comfortable! The lobby was gorgeous and the decor was wonderful, this hotel definitely felt very luxurious!

  • Joshua Brown

    The room was very nice, clean. Breakfast was a buffet, really good! One unique feature was a smart phone in the room that you can use to surf the net for free of charge.

Day3 - Sendai, Japan’s Culture and Beauty

Hotel Metropolitan Sendai

  • Aubrie Engman

    This was one of my all time favorite activities while in Japan. We got to rent electric bikes which I had never been on before. We went to 3-4 temples and shrines through out the city and they were all so beautiful, especially with the Fall foilage.

    Taiyouro was one of my favorite restaurants I tried in Sendai! It is a fusion between Japanese and Chinese food and we got to try some really delicious fried rice. I also had some ramen noodles and the broth and warmth on a cold Fall day was just what I needed- it was perfect!

  • Joshua Brown

    Riding on a bike and touring temples was one of the best parts of this trip. Temples were beautiful, obviously we toured the best ones – Syorakuji, Koshoji, Yakushido. Foliage was beautiful also.

    Taiyouro is a Chinese restaurant that is quite popular with the locals. Fans of B-kyu gourmet should try the mabo yakisoba, a dish that combines Chinese classic mabo tofu with yakisoba, Japan's ubiquitous pan-fried soba noodles.

JR Senzan Line
Sendai Station → Sakunami Station
About 30 minutes
* Use Sendai Marugoto Pass (unlimited rides for two days).

About 25 minutes

The Nikka Whisky Sendai Factory Miyagikyo Distillerymore

The Nikka Whisky Sendai Factory Miyagikyo Distillery
This distillery distills and stores malt whisky and other beverages. On the one-hour tour of the facility, you can watch the manufacturing process and taste the whisky made there.
  • Aubrie Engman

    It was so interesting to see that the founder had visited Scotland himself to study and learn how to make whiskey because there is actually quite the science behind it! The outside of the distillery was also so pretty! The setting in the mountains and next to a river was gorgeous. At the end of the tour, you get to try the whisky yourself!

  • Joshua Brown

    I am a whiskey fan, and this place was so much fun. Nikka comes from the name of a local river. The founder, Masataka Taketsuru chose the spot to build a distillery because of the natural conditions (they're similar to Scotland) and access to top-quality water from that river. Accordingly, the grounds are beautiful, even saw some swans lounging by a pond. The distilling process is of course filled with Japanese craftsman-style quality and attention to details. Best part? The free samples following the tour!

JR Senzan Line
Sakunami Station → Ayashi Station
15 minutes

Sendai Municipal bus
Ayashi Station → Akiu Sato Center
15 minutes

Walk 20 minutes

Akiu Kogei no Sato (Akiu Craft Park)more

Akiu Kogei no Sato (Akiu Craft Park)
At Akiu Craft Park, craftsmen working on traditional Japanese crafts, with techniques that have been handed down since ancient time, work in nine ateliers. Enjoy a look at both the craftsmen who diligently keep these traditional techniques alive and the numerous works that they create with utmost care.
  • Aubrie Engman

    Akiu Craft Park is such a cool concept because people are able to go there and take craft classes and learn more about the culture hands on. I had such a fun time painting my very own Kokeshi doll. There was a teacher that taught us some basics and showed us many different examples and then we actually got the opportunity to paint our own!

    It was so unique and beautiful event at Rairaikyo Gorge! The setting is gorgeous right next to a gorge and you get to walk around and look at all of the amazing foilage, but actually lit up at night!

  • Joshua Brown

    Kokeshi are one of the traditional crafts in the Akiu area. We tried kokeshi painting here. Kokeshi look simple, but are actually quite difficult to paint well. The basic idea is grab the brush, take some cues from the masterpieces lining the shelves around you, and go to work.

    Rairaikyo is a natural gorge that features gorgeous trees, moss-covered rocks and a stunning view down to the crystal clear river below. They even have ashiyu, a hot spring for your feet so you can warm up. I recommend bringing your own towel!

Akiu Kogei no Sato → Sendai Akiu Hot Spring HOTEL SAKAN
20 minutes

Sendai Akiu Hot Spring HOTEL SAKAN

  • Aubrie Engman

    Staying at Hotel Sakan was such an incredible experience. I loved every single detail- seriously. The lobby was huge and gorgeous and there was a gorgeous outdoor courtyard with gardends, ponds and waterfalls. One of the very best parts was that there were many hot springs so I was able to experience an onsen for the first time.

  • Joshua Brown

    Wow really love this hotel. From the second you walk in, the design is eye-catching. A huge indoor pond teeming with carp leads to a garden in the inner courtyard. The room I had was a mix of Japanese and Western-style, featuring tatami and sliding doors. The dinner was kaiseki ryori, a wide variety of super fancy Japanese dishes, and it was great – especially the Sendai Kuroge Wagyu (Japanese black) beef.

Day4 - Last Day in Sendai, Japan’s Spirit of Reconstruction

Sendai Akiu Hot Spring HOTEL SAKAN

Shuttle bus, Scheduled bus
Iwanumaya → Sendai Station
45-60 minutes

Sendai Station

Kataribe taximore

Kataribe taxi
Travel around the disaster area where the scars of the earthquake remain while the driver talks about the situation after the earthquake and tsunami, the progress of reconstruction efforts, and the lessons of the disaster such as disaster preparedness.
Basic Course: Sendai Station → Gamo district → Arahama district → Yuriage district → Sendai Station
  • Aubrie Engman

    This experience was incredibly sombering and it is hard to put into the words the way I felt at the Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center and the Sendai Arahama Elementary school. Looking out the window of the 3rd story and being able to see the ocean so close was so surreal because I can only imagine what went through their minds as they saw the ocean coming in towards them. At the Community center, we spoke with a woman who actually was there during the tsunami and it ws so surreal, yet incredile to hear her story. She was incredibly brave and she told us about the reconstruction efforts. They are building up the hills close to the town in hopes that if this happens again, it will be able to be stopped by the hills.

    This was another one of my favorite experiences while in Japan- a sushi conveyor belt restaurant! I even wore my special sushi shirt to visit Nigiri no Tokubei! The sushi comes around on a conveyor belt next to your seat and you can see which ones look yummy and pick them up!

    They have brochures on everything to do in the area and there is also an attendant there to help you with anything you need. If you are headed to another area in Japan after, you can actually skype someone at their tourist information center and they will give you the information you need- which I thought was incredibly thoughtful!

    The Mitakisan Fudoin Temple was a very small Buddhist temple which was actually very interesting because it was in the middle of a shopping center. This particular one was specifically about Sendai Business prosperity.

    The Sake vending machine was really cool and fun! You pay a little bit of money and then you get a small shot glass of whichever flavor you picked.

  • Joshua Brown

    We went to the big waterfall before the school, and also an Ashura temple. They were both beautiful, I would love to spend a day hiking near the waterfall basin.

    At the Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center, one woman who survived the tsunami, told us her story and showed us around. She was wonderful, hearing the story first-hand was incredibly valuable. It's a sad event, I felt it was important to learn about how people survived and recovered from a major disaster.

    Kaiten sushi is so much fun! Our tour guide handled the ordering from a tablet, and it was thrilling to grab our plates off the conveyor belt as they came around. Sushi was good and they had a wide variety, including some creative ones like plum/mint leaf.

    Sendai Tourist Information Desk must be good for tourists, because staffed with a helpful woman that spoke English and Chinese. They offer brochures and maps that explain Sendai site and attractions in English.

    This temple was unique because it's located in a shopping mall. It seems to have a devoted following, a few people showed up to bow before the Ashura while we were there.

    Sake vending machine is an interesting concept. There was a line when we arrived, seems like the locals also enjoy cups of nice sake for just ¥100!
    *Prices are for travelers at the time of use.

Sendai Station

JR Shinkansen Hayabusa(JR EAST PASS)

  • Aubrie Engman

    Ekibens are really fun and popular to eat in Japan. It was hard for me to decide which one I wanted, but I saw this one that had cute little food that looked like Samurais and since I love kawaii food, I had to have this one! It was very tasty as well!

  • Joshua Brown

    I cannot imagine to ride the Shinkansen without buying ekiben! It's basically food packed in a box that's easy to take with you and eat on the train. I had one that was half gyukalbi (beef over rice) and half unagi (eel).

Tokyo Station or other places

  • Aubrie Engman

    My experience in Japan was incredible. The people are so kind, the culture is fascinating, the landscapes are gorgeous, the food is delicious. It is one of my favorite countries and I loved exploring new areas- Sendai and Akiu and would highly recommend it to anyone!

  • Joshua Brown

    Overall it was a fun tour. Getting a taste of Tokyo and digging in to Sendai was a nice balance between big city and northern Japan. I'm glad that my companion Aubrie is an experienced traveler and added the Akiu waterfall to our itinerary, it was really great. I enjoy being out in nature, so I could have stayed longer and done some hiking! I would love to do another tour.


A perfect introduction to the history of Japan from the Edo period in Tokyo to the Samurai era in Sendai.

Aubrie Engman
Photographer, Travel Blogger
Reside in USA
  • Hobby

    Traveling, Writing, Photography

  • Number of visits to Japan

    One prior visit to Japan.


Overall the tour was a lot of fun. We did a good mix of natural sites and Japanese culture-related things. Tokyo and Sendai are very different places, with different destinations. Seeing both affords the opportunity to see different sides of Japan.

Joshua Brown
Reside in Tokyo
Home country: USA
  • Hobby

    Singing, music, Buddhism, exercise/running/weight training, outdoor stuff like surfing/kayaking, fashion, cooking

  • Length of stay in Tokyo


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