Sendai is the capital of Miyagi prefecture and the largest city in the Tohoku region, with a population just over one million. Composed of five districts, it is known as the “City of Trees,” given the large number of zelkova trees that line some streets, such as Jozenji-dori. Home to Tohoku University and other universities, the population of the city makes it characteristically younger than many other areas in Japan. Although Sendai has a long history, the area is particularly famous for a daimyo named Date Masamune. He and his clan relocated to Sendai during the Tokugawa period and lived at Aoba Castle. The castle itself was largely destroyed during firebombing in WWII, but the ruins still remain today and feature as a tourism spot for the city. Tourism for Miyagi is promoted by Musubi Maru, Miyagi’s prefectural character, a riceball that wears Masamune’s samurai attire.
Sendai is known for a variety of its local specialties. Zunda (ずんだ) is sweetened green soybean mush usually served on mochi (soft, pounded rice cakes). Sendai is also famous for beef tongue (牛タン). You can find it at many restaurants in the city. Gyutan is eaten all over Japan, but Sendai gyutan is special in that it is thickly sliced, heavily seasoned and usually served with barley rice and oxtail soup. There are also bamboo leaf-shaped fish cakes, called sasa kamaboko (笹かまぼこ). Lastly, not edible, but Kokeshi Dolls (こけし人形) are also famous.
Sendai Aoba Matsuri takes place on the 3rd weekend in May. Most of the festival takes place in the area west of Sendai station. There are big red wagon floats, Date Masamune impersonators and lots of suzume odori (sparrow dance).
Sendai Tanabata Festival is held from August 6th to 8th. The Tanabata festival, celebrating the meeting of the stars Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair) takes place all over Japan starting from July 7th. The Sendai Tanabata Festival is one of the biggest in the country. Enormous paper decorations are hung from bamboo poles through the shopping district. There are also fireworks on the evening of August 5th.
The Jozenji Street Jazz Festival, held on the 2nd weekend of September, brings musicians from all over the world to Miyagi. There are stages all over city where hundreds of musicians play free shows. If you love music, this festival is a must.
Sendai Pageant of Starlight. In December, thousands of lights illuminate the zelkova trees along Jozenji Dori. If you manage to get there just as they turn on the lights, it’s an unforgettable spectacle.
Miyagi’s Sports Teams
Vegalta is the J. League Division 1 soccer team. You may recognize this name as a combination of the names of the two stars that meet for the Tanabata Festival. Home games are played at Yurtec Stadium in Izumi Ward (close to Izumichuo subway station) or at Miyagi Stadium in Rifu, located about 20 min. away and accessible by the Tohoku Honsen train line.
Sendai 89ers is the local basketball team. You can see their games at the Sendai Taiikukan near Tomizawa subway station.
Rakuten Eagles are the Sendai baseball team. They play out of Kobo Miyagi Baseball Stadium in Sendai. It’s accessible by a 15 min walk from the east exit of Sendai station, or by taking the Senseki line to Tsutsujigaoka or Miyaginohara stations right next to the stadium.
Great introduction to the city, this bus stops at a variety of sights in Sendai. You can get a one-day pass for unlimited rides for 600 yen. It leaves from Sendai Station at bus stop 15-3.
http://www.kotsu.city.sendai.jp/english/bus/loople/ (In English)
The following are all spots where the Loople bus stops and boards:
- Zuihoden Mausoleum
The site where Date Masamune and his family are interred, it is considered one of the best sights in Sendai.
- Sendai City Museum
Home to a large collection of historical pieces, the Sendai City Museum also hosts a variety of events and lectures. For admission hours and other information, please check here: http://www.city.sendai.jp/kyouiku/museum/english/img/guide.pdf (In English)
- Aoba Castle Ruins
A popular sight during the summer time when different suzume odori groups perform on Sunday afternoons. The castle itself is no longer there, but the stone walls and guard house have been reconstructed. http://www.sentabi.jp/e/tourist/sendaijouato.html (In English)
- Tohoku University’s Botanical Gardens
The large garden has a couple of trails that make for a nice stroll. There is also a recreation area good for picnics and enjoying the surrounding greenery. http://www.biology.tohoku.ac.jp/garden/index.html (In Japanese)
- Museum of Natural History
Maintained by Tohoku University, the museum has built up a large collection of natural specimens, including a variety of fossils from across Asia. http://www.museum.tohoku.ac.jp/english/visitor_info/index.htm (In English)
- Miyagi Museum of Art
The museum holds a variety of both Japanese and Western art beginning from the Meiji Period, along with some works specific to the Tohoku region in their permanent collection. They also run special exhibitions from all over the world. Additionally, they host workshops for pottery, painting, prints, etc. http://www.pref.miyagi.jp/site/museum-en/ (In English)
- Osaki Hachimangu Shrine
Designated as one of the national treasures of Japan, this shrine was completed in 1604 by order of Date Masamune. The shrine also hosts a variety of festivals, which can be found at the link below. http://www.oosaki-hachiman.or.jp/pop/index.html (In English)
- sendai mediatheque
The mediatheque features as a public facility—functioning largely as a library, as well as being host to a variety of exhibitions and community events. The innovative architecture, designed by Toyo Ito, makes it a pleasant and open space to enjoy. It is one of the newest features in the city (built in 2001) and is well-worth a visit. http://www.smt.jp/en/ (In English)
Considered one of the city’s important cultural artefacts, it has an excellent garden. It’s halfway between the Kita-Sendai and Kita-Yama JR stations.
Dainohara Shinrin Koen (台原森林公園)
A large park accessible from Asahigaoka subway station. Great area for a run or stroll and also features a children’s obstacle course, as well as being close by to the Seinen Cultural Center and Science Museum.
Tsutsujigaoka Koen (榴ヶ岡公園)
Accessible from the east exit of Sendai station or from Tstsujigaoka station, this park has a nice lawn/sports field area and path along the perimeter. It is especially popular in the spring for cherry blossom viewing.
Nishi Koen (西公園)
Located by the Hirose River, it hosts fireworks during the Tanabata festival and a variety of other events during the summer.
Large family park away from the city center. It is accessible from Nagamachi minami subway station. You can choose to take a bus towards the park from there or take a 20 minute walk.
This museum is home to several science and natural history exhibits, including outside nature tracks. Many of the exhibits are interactive, such as the chemistry lab fragrance factory. The museum is located in Dainohara Shinrin Koen.
Yagiyama Zoo (八木山動物公園)
Located close to the city centre. You can get there by bus. Please check the website for more information. (http://www.city.sendai.jp/kensetsu/yagiyama/english/)
An amusement park located close to the zoo (www.benyland.com)
An amusement park on the JR Senzan Line at Kumagane or Sakunami station (www.hi-land.co.jp).
Ice Rink Sendai
An indoor ice-skating rink open to the public. It is about 1 kilometer from Sendai Izumi-chuo subway station.
Movix Sendai Cinema
Located in the Nagamachi Mall complex, accessible via subway from Nagamchi South station.
7-20-15 Nagamachi, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi 982-0011
Accessible via subway from Kitayobancho station Exit 2.
Kimachidori 2-1-33 – Izawatake`s Suzume, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
Cine la Vita
Accessible from Sendai station east exit on the 2nd floor of the BIVI building
Tsutsujigaoka 1-2-15, Miyaginoku, Senda, Miyagi
***Please note that Forum and Cine la Vita are run by the same company, so they share the same website. Be sure to confirm at which location a movie is playing.
Located on Hirose Dori. A great venue that has hosted bands local and nationally acclaimed musicians and DJs like DJ Kentaro, Cornelius, etc.
Located on Ichibancho, near the Disney Store. Great acoustics and attracts good bands.
Next to Nagamachi Ichome Station (subway). Several ALTs have played here.
Other small venues: Darwin, Rensa
Bigger venues: Sendai Sun Plaza, Tokyo Electron Hall Miyagi
Where you can find a Uniqlo, great for buying inexpensive clothes in sizes that match western bodies. In the same building, there is Maruzen, a bookstore with a good selection of English books and Japanese study books.
Right next to the station, S-PAL has a variety of clothing stores (on the more expensive side), as well as MUJI, which has a variety of beauty, home, and interior goods.
Another department store right next to Sendai station, it features a variety of stores and restaurants.
Sendai Station Loft
Right across from Sendai Station, Loft has several floors of a large variety of goods. Restaurants are on the top floor.
Sendai Nagamachi Mall
A shopping complex with a few western shops and a cinema. It is accessible via the subway from Sendai Nagamachi south station.
Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets
Near Izumi Park Town off of Route 4. Many restaurants, many stores and a Jupiter located there as well.
Mitsui Outlet Park
Located close to Sendai Port, about a 10 minute walk from Nakanosakae Station on the Senseki Line. There are many brand stores (Nike, Adidas, Asics, Roxy, Quicksilver) where you can buy clothes etc. at a discount. There is also a giant Ferris wheel.
Clis Road/The Arcade
A long stretch of clothing and shoes stores, drug stores, arcades and others including a 5 or 6-floored Daiso, Kaldi, and Daei.
On Ichibancho where you can find friendly, English-speaking staff. They occasionally host workshops for the various Apple products. You can sneak a few minutes of internet access here. You can also find many brand name stores along this road.
Located out of the east exit of Sendai station, this 3-floor electronics store has just about every gadget you could imagine. You can shop for cell phones or sign up for internet here as well.
On the other side of the street from Sendai Metropolitan Hotel, this building has a variety of restaurants and shops.
An inexpensive little ramen shop with huge portions. Walking out the back of the Kencho, turn right, walk until you reach the second street (street, not stoplight), turn right and it is just on your left.
Good burger restaurant with a nice atmosphere, but a bit on the pricey side.
Bar and Restaurant La Paix
Nice little French place with a decent wine list located in the basement of Denryoku Biru. Come out of West Exit 3 of Hirose-dori station and head up Hirose-dori road going towards Sendai. Reasonable set lunch and dinner menus.
A vegetarian Indian restaurant run by some friendly Indian people. They have a great set dinner that comes with a lot of food and you can pick your own curry.
Located on the first floor of the AER building next to the Maruzen bookstore, Vajraroad is a really tasty soup curry restaurant. Pick your curry base, the spicyness, the amount of rice, and you are set to go!
The only known Middle Eastern restaurant in Miyagi, Middle Mix is run by a friendly Israeli fellow (fluent in English) and his Japanese wife. Offers a variety of dishes including falafel, hummus, and baklava, as well as hookah in various flavors.
Nice café with great coffee and some nice lunch or dinner options, run by a friendly man who speaks a little English. The food is healthy and delicious.
The nightlife in Sendai is centred around the Kokubuncho area, near Ichibancho. There are tons of bars, but you have to watch out for seating charges and sketchy establishments. It’s probably best to go with a senpai (a 2nd or 3rd year) the first time.
Standing bar near Sendai station. Bit pricey, but the music is good and they have a good choice of tapas style bar snacks.
2nd floor opposite Zooop! Game center on Clis Road. During the week they have a happy hour and discounts for English teachers.
Owned by a former JET, on Kokubuncho-dori. Live music, good Halloween party
Bar, Isn’t it?
A chain dance club in Ichibancho
All-you-can-drink venues in Kokubuncho: Ageha, Marrakech, Bueno Bueno, Osamu’s, Tora-no ana
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Sendai City Aoba Gym
Located a 5 min walk from Kita Sendai station. It has training room facilities as well as a variety of classes, including martial arts. In order to use the training room, there is a required one-time introductory session.
http://www.spf-sendai.jp/aoba/english/index.html (In English)
A short walk from Sendai station, Gold’s Gym has a variety of training facilities, especially those geared toward weight training. Many foreigners go here, and signs within the gym are translated into English. http://www.goldsgym.jp/ (In Japanese)
LAVA Hot Yoga Studio
A short walk out of the west exit of Sendai station, LAVA is a yoga studio focused on hot yoga. Trial classes are available for those who are interested.
http://www.yoga-lava.com/?action_j03=true&sno=109 (In Japanese)
Fusion Sports Communication Square
Located in the Sendai Sun Plaza Hotel out of the east exit of Sendai station, this gym includes a variety of training facilities, including a pool. Fitness and pool classes are both offered.
http://www.fusion-sendai.jp/ (In Japanese)
Mori Ruriko Clinic (General Medicine)
Doctor: Dr. Mori Ruriko
Hours: Mon-Wed., Fri.: 9:00-12:15, 14:30-17:15, Thurs., Sat.: 9:00-12:15
Address: 1-6-23 Itsutsubashi, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Note: Dr. Mori is a female doctor. Her clinic is located near Itsutsubashi Subway Station. Use Exit North 4, walk north and turn left at the first corner then left again. It’s on your left in a pink building.
Kasai Naika Clinic (General Medicine)
Doctor: Dr. Kasai
Hours: Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri.: 9:00-13:00, 15:00-18:30, Sat., Sun.: 9:00-13:00
Address: 1-25-1 Minami, Tomizawa, Taihaku-ku, Sendai
Note: Really good doctor who speaks great English and there is a short wait. Walk south across the river from the west side of the Tomizawa Subway Station, turn right and it’s on your left.
Ono Clinic (General Medicine)
Doctor: Dr. Otaki
Hours: Mon.-Fri.: 9:00-12:30, 14:00-17:30, Sat. 9:00-12:30
Address: 5-46 Showamachi, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Note: Across the street from Kita-Sendai JR Station, located near Mr. Donut. The clinic is on the first floor of a gray building, that says Ono Building in English on the front.
Okuguchi Clinic (General Medicine)
Hours: Tue, Thurs., Fri.: 8:30-12:00, 14:30-16:30; Wed, Sat.: 8:30-12:30
Address: 2-10-12 Chuo, Aoba-ku, Manzen Building, 2nd Floor
Website: http://www.okuguchinaikaclinic.jp/index.html (Japanese only)
Note: The Okuguchi Clinic is located near the Hirose-Dori Subway Station.
Egawa Clinic (General Medicine)
Doctor: Dr. Egawa
Hours: Mon.- Fri.: 9:00-12:00, 15:30-18:00; Sat.: 9:00-12:00, 14:30-17:00
Address: 4-35-27 Asahigaoka, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Note: Dr. Egawa lived abroad and is very caring. From Asahigaoka Subway Station, walk north towards the Science Museum. Turn right at the pedestrian crossing, then take the second right. It’s on your right.
Hayasaka Clinic (General Medicine)
Hours: Mon.-Wed, Fri.: 9:15-12:30, 14:45-18:00; Thurs., Sat.: 9:15-12:30
Address: 3-6-1 Kokubuncho, Aoba-ku, Sendai パークビル1F
Website: http://www.hayasaka-cl.jp/ (Japanese only)
Muraguchi Kiyo Josei Clinic (Women’s Clinic)
Doctor: Dr. Muraguchi
Hours: Mon., Fri.: 9:00-12:30, 14:30-18:00; Tues., Wed.: 9:00-12:30, 14:30-17:00;Sat.: 9:00-12:30
Address: 4-2-3 Tsutsujigaoka, Miyagino-ku, Sendai (Sendai MT Building 2F)
Website: http://www.muraguchikiyo-wclinic.or.jp/ (Japanese only)
Note: Located behind Sendai Station. Take the East Exit of Sendai Station towards Yodobashi Camera. Walk down the main road with the Lotteria at the corner. The clinic is located inside on the 2nd Floor of the Sendai MT Building, pink signs are visible when you step off the elevator. Dr. Muraguchi’s English is not the best, but many ALTs go to her.
Fujinka Clinic Koga (Women’s Clinic)
Doctor: Dr. Koga
Hours: Mon., Wed.-Fri.: 9:00-11:30, 14:00-17:00; Tues.: 14:00-17:00; Sat.: 9:00-11:30
Address: 2-5-12 Kashiwagi, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Website: http://www18.ocn.ne.jp/~koga/ (Japanese only)
Note: Dr. Koga comes highly recommended by some JETs, especially those who were not satisfied with an initial visit at other clinics. It states that she does speak English, but it is unclear as to what level.
Kaneto Jinhinyokika Clinic (Urologist)
Hours: Tues.-Fri.: 9:30-13:00, 14:30-18:30; Sat.: 9:30-13:00, 14:00-16:00
Address: 3-1-22 Chuo, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-0021
Website: http://www.knuc.jp/ (Japanese only)
Notes: You must call to make a reservation, especially if you are a first-time patient.
Kashiwagi Clinic (Inoculations)
Hours: Mon., Wed.,: 9:30-13:00, 15:00-20:00; Tues., Thurs-Sat.: 9:30-13:00, 15:00-18:00
Address: 2-6-2 Kashiwagi, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Website: http://bunanomori.info/kashiwagi.html (Japanese only)
Mimi, Hana, Nodo Kita-Sendai Clinic (Ear, Nose & Throat)
Hours: Mon., Tues., Thurs.-Sat.: 9:00-12:00; Mon., Tues., Thurs.: 14:00-17:00
Address: 1-1-2 Tsutsumi-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Note: Female doctor, fluent English. Take the North Exit 2 of the Kita-Sendai subway station, turn right and go into building around the corner (Emuzu Kita-Sendai (エムズ北仙台)).
Igisu Clinique (Dermatology, Allergy)
Hours: Mon., Tues., Thurs.: 10:00-12:30, 15:00-18:00; Sat.: 9:00-17:00
Address: 6-2-26 Kamisugi, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Note: Very friendly female doctor, who takes time to listen to your symptoms, concerns and also explains thoroughly each medication she prescribes and what kind of tests she will conduct. She can read and understand any English that is written on the forms, and apparently can speak English according to a JET. Her clinic is always very crowded, so try to get there first thing in the morning.
Sendai Breast Clinic (Breast Clinic)
Hours: Mon., Tues., Thurs. Fri.: 9:30-12:30, 14:00-17:30; Sat.: 9:30-12:00, 13:30-15:30
Address: 1-23 Tachi-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai (DS Park Building)
Website: http://www1.odn.ne.jp/~cjh87120/ (Japanese)
Note: “It’s a male doctor, but there was always a female nurse present during the examinations. I went twice – once for the initial consultation and once for the follow-up, and both times were good experiences. You do need to book an appointment.” (Miyagi JET)
Matsuda Hospital (Sports Medicine)
Hours: For Dr. Sasaki: Mon., Tues.: 8:30-10:00, 10:00-11:30, 14:00-15:30; Thurs.: 14:00-15:30, 15:30-17:00, *Fri.:14:00-15:30 By appt. only; Sat. 10:30-13:00
Address: 17-1 Nittayashiki, Minorisawa, Izumi-ku, Sendai
Note: From the Izumi-Chuo Subway Station, take a bus heading towards Izumi Park Town via Izumi High School (#3). Get off at the Teraoka Iriguchi bus stop. Hospital is on the corner of a major intersection, across from ENEOS. Dr. Sasaki speaks English. Call in beforehand and say that the patient only knows English.
Ichibancho Clinic (Orthopedic Doctor)
Hours: Mon.-Fri 9:00-13:00; 14:30-19:00; Sat. 9:00-13:00
Address: 3-5-16 Ichibancho, Aoba-ku, Sendai アクアビル2F
Note: This is a general clinic, but the doctor that does internal medicine does not speak English (although she is good and the wait time is short.) The orthopedic doctor here speaks passable English and does walk-ins.
Tohoku Kousai Hospital (Orthopedics)
Doctor: Dr. Hatori
Address: 2-3-11 Kokubuncho, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Website: http://www.tohokukosai.com/ (Japanese only)
Note: Dr. Hatori is quite fluently able to explain medical issues in English and is an expert in his field of orthopedics.
Yuko Wada Eye Clinic (Eye Doctor)
Hours: Mon.-Sat.: 9:30-13:00; (*Tues. morning appointments are for women only; 2nd and 4th Fri.: 8:30-13:00); Mon.-Thurs.: 14:30-18:00
Address: 1-4-28 Kamisugi, Aoba-ku, Sendai (Appu Shi-da Building 3rd Floor)
Website: http://www.yukow-oph.jp/english/index.html (English)
Note: Located right behind the Miyagi Prefectural Government, inside the building located to the left, right before the 7-11 convenience store. Dr. Wada speaks English very well, and will even come out to explain the equipment and what they test for.
Ichibancho Mental Clinic (Psychiatrist)
Hours: Mon.-Wed., Fri.: 9:30-12:30, 14:30-18:30; Thurs., Sat.: 9:30-12:30
Address: 2-2-13 Ichibancho, Aoba-ku, Sendai (Senken Building 5th Floor)
Note: Dr. Saito speaks excellent English, and can prescribe medication.
Fukuda Clinic (Psychiatrist)
Hours: Mon.-Wed., Fri.: 9:30-17:30; Sat.: 9:30-13:00
Address: 2-8-32 Chuo, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Note: You must call to schedule a first visit. Located a minute away from Higashi (East) Exit 1 of the Hirose-Dori Subway Station.
Koutoudai Dental Clinic
Hours: Mon.-Sat: 10:00-13:00, 15:00-20:00
Address: 2-16-15 Honcho, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Note: The dentist here studied in America and speaks very good English. His office is on the second floor of the building right next to Lawson by Koutoudai Koen.
Sugano Dental Hospital (Dentistry)
Hours: Mon.-Sat.: 9:00-13:00, Mon.-Fri.: 14:00-17:00
Address: 2-2-72 Kakyouin, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Note: A former Sendai ALT stated that Dr. Utako Sugano (daughter) is fluent in English. Her father and uncle also work at the same hospital, so be sure to ask for Sugano Utako Sensei.
PMJ Kimachidori Dental Clinic (Dentistry)
Hours: Mon.-Wed., Fri.: 9:00-18:30; Thurs., Sat.: 9:00-16:00
Address: 2-3-28 Kimachidori, Aoba-ku, Sendai
Note: It is advised to call ahead of time to make an appointment with Dr. Shimura because he is the only doctor who speaks English and is not at the office every day.
Currently, there is one subway (Nanboku Line) that runs from north (Izumichuo) to south (Tomizawa). Platform 1 is for trains headed to Tomizawa, while Platform 2 is for trains headed to Izumichuo. A new subway (Tozai Line), which will run from east to west, is under construction and will open in 2015.
There is an information booth for the buses at Sendai station close to bus stop 9 for any inquiries related bus routes. To check bus routes and times, the websites below also might be helpful.
http://www.group-niji.org/bus_subway/bus_route/ (In English)
http://www.navi.kotsu.city.sendai.jp/dia/bustime/bus/index.cgi (In Japanese)
For both bus and subway, you can buy a 3000 or 5000 yen “Joy Card”.
Major stops in Miyagi include Sendai and Furukawa. A comfortable, but expensive way to travel. A quick 1.5 or 2 hour trip to Tokyo will cost about 10500 yen one way.
You can reach many places both in and out of Miyagi by highway buses. A bus to Tokyo generally takes 5-6 hours. They leave at all times of the day and overnight buses are popular as well. You can make reservations online or check out the centre at the East exit of Sendai station for information. (*Different from the city bus information centre)