Sendai: A hidden gem!

Detail of Zuihoden When talking about destinations to visit in Japan, usually Sendai does not pop up, although it is the largest city in the Tohoku region. The city has everything what is needed to make a stay truly interesting from historical sites, great food, a cool Shinkansen to ride and a truly welcoming society. During my life of more than 10 years in Japan this city never was the destination for any private trips, but recently a friendly soccer match of Uruguay and Japan brought me to the area.
Sendai is mainly known for Date Masamune (powerful daimyo), who brought the city in the 1600 to its glory. The picture below shows Date Masamune at the remains of the Sendai Castle site.

Date Masamune

Within the city there is as well the final resting place of the Date clan Zuihoden, which contains as well 20 truly loyal solders who committed seppuku due to the death of their leader Date Masamune. The actual graves can be seen below in the picture, placed just beside the actual tomb of Date Masamune.

20 loyal warriors

For me one of the most impressive sites in Sendai was the Osaki Hachimangu shrine. The shrine had been built under Date Masamune. Apart from the impressive architecture, which is now an National Treasure, I was impressed that this site had until around 1945 a real horse on site representing the deity connected to Hachiman. In July 1945 Sendai experienced many air raids and destruction of many sights now being rebuilt. The Shrine is the oldest example of Azuchi-Momoyama architecture and impressed me deeply with the unique rather dark color.

Osaki Hachimangu, Sendai

Sendai is known for its delicious style of Miso. At this shrine I saw for the first time offerings of miso.

offerings of Sendai miso

Apart from offerings for gods, great food can be tasted like amazing soft tongue (picture below) or “okuzukake”.

beef tongue

Okuzakake is a local dish originating from Miyagi prefecture. We were lucky as we were in Sendai in the middle of August, because it is the period when outside of Tokyo the Obon season is observed. Obon is the period to worship the souls of ancestors. In Sendai there is a custom of offering zunda-mochi and okuzukake during Obon. The actual picture of the dish with the soy beans rice cake sweet is below. I have to say it truly tasted delicious, although the picture cannot really reflect the reality.

Zunda-mochi and Okuzukake

Okuzukake was originally a vegetarian dish. It contains eggplant, snap beans, taro, carrot and some local vegetables in season, abura-age (fried soy curd), Umen noodles (thinner style udon noodles). The picture below shows a good overview of the expected ingredients.


Sendai is definitely worthwhile a trip. You might even encounter some great warriors like Yoroku Morino from the past!

Yoroku Morino

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

2 thoughts on “Sendai: A hidden gem!

    • Dear Imjapan,

      I am sure you will love the tongue as much as I do. I never liked it in Europe and it tasted for me much more like a punishment than a delicacy.
      Keep us posted how it was then at the end.

      Enjoy your trip to Tohoku!

      Sibylle Ito

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