Best Things To Do in Sendai-shi, Japan

Are you looking for what to do in Sendai-shi?

Sendai’s tourist appeal is based mainly around historical heritage, the many parks, and a handful of beautiful attractions just outside the city. They call it the City of Trees, and it’s easy to see why – the city seems to have a love affair with zelkova, gingko and cherry trees, each of which are spectacularly beautiful.

The Date samurai clan, and especially Masumune (the samurai who helped found the city), is highly revered here. Weirdly enough, the city’s main attraction, which was the clan’s castle, is an empty lot – it’s where the castle USED to be before it was destroyed. Today, the closest you can get to sightseethe founders is at the Zuiho Temple Shrine, where Masumune and other important clan members are interred. Other than the many shrines, historic appeal is confined to museums such as Sendai City Museum of History and Folklore and the Sendai City Museum.

Of green spaces, there are many. The city’s favourite such attraction is the Jozenji-dori Avenue, an elegant boulevard of zelkova trees. See the lovely wooded area around the old castle place. Many of the parks are on hilly areas, which brings us to the next attraction type – the lookouts. Sendai has so many excellent and atmospheric viewpoints that not bringing carrying your camera everywhere would be silly. Check the AER Lookout Terrace, Miyagikencho Outlook Hall, the gazebo at AtagoJinja Shrine and of course, the castle area itself.

Shopping is best at Mitsui Outlet Park and though the nightlife is active, it’s not really outstanding. The Mediatheque is quite an architectural achievement.

PLACES Finally, those wanting to head out of the city have a lovely combination of attractions to look forward to – the Nikka Whisky Sendai Factory Miyagikyo Distillery, the mystical Akiu Falls, the river of which flows into the atmospheric Rairaikyo gorge. All these areas bring out different shades of beauty for every season.

Below we have a list of things to do in Sendai-shi and the places where you want to spend the best moments of your trip. At the same time, the city offers you the best neighborhoods to explore and new foods to try.

This list should help you in deciding and prioritizing what you should plan on your Sendai-shi getaway. Find a mix of must-see tourist spots, underrated local hangouts, and maybe even a few new experiences you can try out.

Make the most of your trip to Sendai-shi with confidence.

Tourist Attractions in Sendai-shi

Here is the list of things to do in Sendai-shi and tourist attractions in city.

  1. Aoba Castle

    3.9 (169 Votes)
    Aoba Castle

    Castle

    It's a little humorous that a city's main attraction is a whole lot of nothing. This is where the Aoba Castle USED to be. The poor structure, once a grand and mighty edifice built during beginning of the Edo period, was repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes. Then came the Meiji Restoration and the Allied bombings of WWII, leaving naught but a husk of the former fortification. At this point, the o...Read more
  2. Jozenji-dori Avenue

    Streets

    This street alone could qualify Sendai for its title 'City of Trees'. A beautiful 700 metre pathway stretching from Nishi Park to Kotodai Park runs down a shopping street, flanked on either side by twin lines of the majestic zelkova trees. The street runs east to west, marked at intervals by beautiful and elegant sculptures by various artists, including Emilio Greco. This is the city's favourit...Read more
  3. Nikka Whisky Sendai Factory Miyagikyo Distillery
    It is unfortunate that for the most part, this tour will have to be restricted to Japanese speaking visitors only. It's not that foreign language speakers aren't allowed… it's that they don't have an English language tour yet. So, unless you're a whiskey aficionado who can't stand the thought of leaving behind a whole distillery unvisited (and you don't speak Japanese), you'll want to av...Read more
  4. Aoba-dori Ichibancho Avenue
    If all shopping areas in the world were like this covered shopping arcade, shopping is all people would ever want to do. Beautiful, clean and airy, the arcade connects several shopping streets together. This has resulted in an area with every kind of store imaginable, from boutiques to upscale electronics, pet stores, cheap apparel and of course, cafes and eateries to keep you energised as you ...Read more
  5. Osaki Hachiman Shrine

    4.2 (183 Votes)
    Osaki Hachiman Shrine

    Religious Site

    This black shrine is dedicated to a kami of war - Hachiman, who was the Date family's patron deity. This protection thus extends to the city, making this shrine one of the most important in Sendai. It was completed in 1607. The build and layout of the shrine is quite unusual - black lacquer and gold leaf and other vivid color arrangements. It is an example of Azuchi-Momoyama architecture. On th...Read more
  6. Sendai Mediatheque

    4 (149 Votes)
    Sendai Mediatheque

    Library

    Boil this place down to its very basic and it is essentially just a decent library. But visitors and locals of the city alike tend to freak out over its impressive architectural achievement. The most prominent feature is the transparent glass facade. The vertical steel latticeworks that rise up to the building are naked to the eye and give the structure a very free-flowing impression. You shoul...Read more
  7. Akiu Great Falls

    4.1 (121 Votes)
    Akiu Great Falls
    This waterfall makes it into the list of the top hundred waterfalls in Japan in terms of both beauty and historic significance. That said, the falls don't look all that special. It is the walk and the atmosphere leading up to the falls that make the trip fun. When you arrive at the parking lot, you'll find snack stores and a resting area. In front of you will be a Torii Gate. Walking through it...Read more
  8. Sendai City Museum

    4 (125 Votes)
    Sendai City Museum

    Museum

    Focusing on the history and origins of the city with a special look into the life and achievements of Masumune Date, this museum is probably the first one you want to visit on your trip to Sendai. It will give you great perspective into the city, even though as a museum you'll probably find better ones elsewhere. Altogether, the museum's collections number about 90,000 artefacts covering histor...Read more
  9. Sendai Umino-mori Aquarium

    Aquarium

    When the Matsushima Marinepia Aquarium, one of Japan's oldest, was closed in 2010, much of its assets were brought over to this newer, larger and far more modern aquarium. The two floors of the aquarium has more than 50,000 animals and cover 300 species. The main attractions are a rare blue shock coma the dolphin shows, the sea lion shows and the penguins (try to be aware of their feeding times...Read more
  10. Yagiyama Zoological Park

    4.2 (64 Votes)
    Yagiyama Zoological Park

    Park, Zoo

    Opened in 1965, the zoo has 550 animals covering a 145 species. The exhibits are arranged according to the animal’s natural habitats and occasionally according to their taxonomy. It's curious that such a non-tourists intensive city such Sendai would have such a comprehensive zoo, but it does. Let's quickly list the main attractions - African Elephant, Japanese Black Bear, Japanese Horse, ...Read more
  11. Aobayama Park

    3.8 (160 Votes)
    Aobayama Park

    Park, Walking Area

    There's not much to do in this park if you've already seen the castle, the shrine and the museum. But it has some nice pathways and areas to rest your feet, so it's worth a stroll. It's only in the spring time that the park really transforms into something beautiful. The reason, of course, cherry blossom season, and the park has plenty of cherry trees to offer.
  12. Tsutsujigaoka Park

    4 (125 Votes)
    Tsutsujigaoka Park

    Park, Picnic Spot

    Anyone who hears about an extremely popular park in Japan should probably easily guess that much of the fame is owed to the cherry blossom trees. Indeed, this park is the city of Sendai's most popular hanami viewing spot in spring. The trees are planted along the park's paved lanes, especially the western end. Hanami goers can usually be found picnicking under the trees, and during festival tim...Read more
  13. Sendai Asaichi

    Walking Area, Market

    This narrow alleyway market has a rather inspiring origin. After the Allied fire-bombings destroyed the main sources of produce for the city, locals began to grow their own crops and sold it here. Today, the 71 stalls in this alley is known as Sendai's Kitchen, and man eateries in the city source their produce here. That's why, if you're looking to actually buy something make sure to get here b...Read more
  14. Mitsui Outlet Park Sendai Port

    Park, Food And Drinks, Restaurant, Street Market

    In Japan, the words Mitsui Outlet Park always command immediate attention, for they are always a shopper's paradise. In Sendai, this translates into a shopping complex with a hundred and twenty stores, featuring top domestic and foreign brands. The restaurants are excellent, as is the food court. For kids who want to be compensated while their parents drag them along for shopping, there's a 50 ...Read more
  15. The Miyagi Museum Of Art

    Art Museum, Cafe, Architecture

    This museum wins on every level. First, check out the incredibly stylish architecture. Even the café is swanky-looking, with designer and antique furniture. Next check how the lighting has been organized to best highlight the best feature of each exhibit. And of course the experts themselves are the stars of the show. Most of the works of art are paintings and printings by artists both W...Read more