Sendai Bucket List: 40 Things to do in the Japanese City

Just an hour and a half ride from Tokyo on Japan’s Shinkansen (the bullet train) you will find the city of Sendai. Founded in 1600 by the famous samurai Date Masamune, Sendai Japan is one of the oldest cities in the country. 

Of course there are plenty of things to do in Tokyo, but don’t miss a side trip to the largest city in the Tōhoku region—Sendai can also let you experience the full extent of what Japan has to offer. From hot springs to distinctive food and drinks to a rich history and more, here are our top picks of things to do in Sendai! 

Sendai Bucket List: Best Attractions & Things to do in the Japanese City

1. AER Building View

A quick stop in Sendai is the 140 meter skyscraper, the AER building. From the 31st floor you can reach the Panorama Terrace where you will get a million dollar view of both the east and west of the city. It’s the perfect place to get a perspective of the vast layout of the city.

AER Building | 1-3-1 Chuo, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan | MAP

Aer Building View

2. Akiu Craft Park

Akiu Craft Park is an incredible place where they try to keep the tradition of craftsmanship alive. They have 9 types of crafts in the park including Edo spintops and Sendai tansu (wooden chests). I was fortunate to be able to take a workshop on how to make a traditional Kokeshi doll. The painting was done in a private room that was set up with sample dolls and four colors to choose from; green, black, yellow and red.

I love art projects!!

On the wall was written instructions, plus there was an instructor to make sure the class was headed in the right direction. My masterpiece was a collection of all the samples, taking my favorite painted aspects of each. When the doll was finished I was shown how to write the letter A in Japanese (for the initial of my first name) and the the shopkeeper was so kind to write the date in the most perfect lettering that would have taken me hours!

Akiu Craft Park | Address: 54 Uehara, Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku-ku, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture | Map & Info

3. Akiu Otaki Falls/Akiu Great Falls

A 29 km drive west of Sendai will take you to Akiu Great Falls. With a height of 180 feet and width of 16 feet, it is one of Japan’s most beautiful waterfalls and a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty.

The beauty of the falls is amplified further during the autumn season, surrounded by the orangey-red colors of the trees. And during winter, it is another magical sight to behold.

Akiu Otaki Falls

4. Check out Sendai Castle Ruins/Aoba Castle Ruins

Are you looking for some of the best scenic views on your trip around Sendai? Then a trip to the site of Sendai Castle (Aoba Castle) should be on your list of things to do! The castle that once stood on the plateau overlooking Sendai along with the city itself was founded by none other than Date Masamune around the 1600s.

Though there isn’t any of the castle left, the views from up there are nothing short of magnificent, especially when the weather is nice. You can also see monuments around the area, like the statue of Date Masamune riding a horse, as well as a shrine.

Sendai Castle Ruins

5. Eat at a Local Izakaya

One of my favorite dining experiences in all of Japan was eating at a local izakaya, an informal gastropub, in Sendai. At Tsuda-Sengyoten the ambiance was just as good as the food. They get their fresh seafood straight from Ishinomaki fish port. When we arrived there was a tabletop BBQ already burning on our table. And as soon as we sat down an array of fish started to be delivered — squid, scallops in the shell and octopus. We were in charge of cooking them on our own. Fun! Then the largest and freshest sashimi platter I had ever seen was placed in front of us.

The best part was that at 7:30 a lively fish auction began. Customers wore hats with numbers on them and then bid on their fresh fish which can be served either raw, grilled, boiled or fried. Our table won a flat fish in the battle that the chefs quickly turned into sashimi!

Annette eating at an Izakaya Sendai Japan

6. Eat Flavorful Grilled Miyagi Oysters

With Miyagi Prefecture being one of the largest producers of oysters in Japan, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to get a taste of it on your visit to Sendai.

You can head over to the nearby Matsushima Bay (a couple of kilometers northeast of the city) and have some delicious grilled oysters fresh from the sea at one of their oyster huts (kaki goya). If you are up to it, you can also eat it like how the locals do it, raw with a pinch of lemon!

Flavorful Grilled Miyagi Oysters

7. Eat Sasakamaboko

A trip to a new place like Sendai warrants a taste of its local cuisine, one of which is their regional version of kamaboko: sasa kamaboko. It is a grilled fish cake formed in a bamboo leaf’s shape and lightly grilled over charcoal. It is also famous as a gift or souvenir in Sendai.

It is perfect as a side dish or as a snack during tea time, with a rich fish flavor that is crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside.


8. Eat Sendai Gyutan (Beef Tongue)

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to dine at a local restaurant to try the traditional cuisine of the area (like worm cakes in Vietnam!), and that is just what we did in Sendai. Gyutan (beef tongue) is Sendai’s most famous dish and there are dozens of restaurants in the city that sell this delicacy.

We popped into Riyku restaurant, which has several locations, where the specialty of the house was Gyutan. The eatery was a small, homey place where just about every dish featured this very unique ingredient. You could get it grilled, seared or even in a stew. I ordered a 3-piece plate of thinly sliced tongue that was served with cow tail soup, white rice and cabbage. I took just a little nibble for my first bite, because I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, it was really good. It tasted like steak!

For more unique foods from around the world, see our Weird Food Around the World Bucket List.

Sendai Gyutan Beef Tongue

9. Enjoy a Night in Kokubuncho

Downtown Sendai is home to the largest nightlife district in Tohoku: Kokuboncho. Everywhere you look, you’ll find neon-lit lanes packed with restaurants, izakaya pubs, bars, karaoke rooms, and more.

Kokuboncho is separated into three areas:

  • First is where you’ll find small shops, gaming centers, and pachinko parlors.
  • The next area is where you’ll find bigger restaurants and bars and is usually where the Japanese salarymen wind down after a day of work.
  • Lastly is the so-called pink zone, home to many bars, host and hostess clubs, and the like. Sort of red-lightish.

Whether you are having your fill of some Japanese cuisine or bar hopping and more, a night at Kokubuncho is something you will surely enjoy!

10. Find a Lucky Matsukawa Daruma

Four-leaf clovers are not the only ones bringing good luck! Enter the Matsukawa Daruma, a Sendai paper-mâché known to bring good luck and is usually bought during New Year.

Unlike traditional darumas, where you’ll paint each eye before and after achieving a goal, Matsukawa Darumas have their eyes painted from the beginning. Its big eyes serve to protect from any misfortune in any direction, its ultramarine color depicts the sea, and on its belly is the god of wealth aboard a treasure ship.

You can usually find these cute figures at shrines, especially during festivals. There is also a local handicraft shop that makes this traditional piece of art.

11. Snack on Hyotanage

Another of Sendai’s signature street food, hyotanage is prepared by skewering and then deep-frying two huge, round pieces of kamaboko (baked fish paste). You can say it is somewhat similar to American corndogs, with a crispy bread exterior topped with ketchup.

You’ll often find this delectable street food around Sendai’s shopping arcades and train stations, perfect as a quick bite as you go around Sendai.

12. Try Zunda-Mochi Sweets

One of Sendai’s three local specialties (the others being gyutan and sasa kamaboko), zunda mochi is a delicious treat made of sweetened mashed edamame (young soybeans,) and is used to coat mochi rice cakes.

You can enjoy this sweet green paste well-chilled, especially on a hot summer day. Though the gloopy consistency of zunda mochi can be off-putting for others, once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be asking for seconds!

Zunda-Mochi Sweets

13. Find Your Favorite Sendai Sake

According to history books, Date Masamune has a fondness for sake so much that he bought land just for treating and brewing the drink. It also happens that the Tohoku region is a land where rice is actively grown, which also makes for some good sake brewing during the harsh winter season.

With so many best-tasting sake and sake bars in Sendai, the best way to look for your favorite is to let your taste buds decide! You can check out Maboroshi No Sake for some of the most recommended sakes.

There’s also a spot in downtown Sendai called Sugawara Sake Shop, across the Disney store, so be sure to check that out! Plus, the staff can also recommend some good sake if you are not sure what sake to drink.

14. Get Seasonal Kikufuku

Fans of a certain popular manga/anime will be totally familiar with this sweet treat from Sendai!

Kikufuku is a rice cake stuffed with cream and sweet paste and comes with different flavors such as zunda, maccha, soft cream, and other seasonal varieties. Some go-to places to buy kikufuku are the Igeta Seicha Kikusuian teahouse and Sendai Station.

The softness and stickiness of the rice cake mixed with the sweet and rich taste of the cream and paste are just heavenly, especially when drinking some green tea!

15. Attend the Jozenji Street Jazz Festival

Music lovers, this one’s for you! The Jozenji Street Jazz Festival is a two-day festival of different musical genres (not just jazz!) held around mid-September and one of Sendai’s major annual events.

You can enjoy live musical performances ranging from amateur musicians to big names in the industry at Jozenji Street and the surrounding area. One of the local favorites is the gospel singers in the shopping arcades.

The three main hubs for the festival are Kotaikoen Park, Tsutsujigaoka Park, and Nishikoen Park. Even though each year the location of each performance varies slightly, the best way to go around is to follow your ears.

16. Stroll Down Jozenji-dori Street

Jozenji-Dori Street is Sendai’s symbol, with Japanese zelkova trees lining up the street at the heart of the city. It is home to popular events that happen each year at Sendai, like the Jozenji Street Jazz Festival.

Outside of those events, it’s easy to find yourself unwinding and relaxing at one of the many restaurants and cafes or at a bench under the trees. You will also find sculptures along the way, which adds more to its appeal.

17. Taste at the Miyagikyo Distillery/Nikka Whisky Distillery

I am not typically a whiskey drinker, but you don’t need to be to enjoy touring the Miyagikyo Distillery where they make what has been called the father of whiskey, Nikka Whisky. The tour of this refinery is fun and educational. When we got there, I was immediately impressed by the well kept grounds, including a pond with the distilleries logo on a barrel displayed in front of it. It is the perfect place to get that souvenir selfie!

The free tour walked a group of us through different stages and buildings of production. Even though it was only about 45 minutes long, it gave a good overview as to how and where they produce their product. My favorite part (besides the sampling at the end of course) was the barrel room where you could see rows and rows or whiskey being aged to perfection.

Nikka Whisky Distillery

18. Tour the Museum of the Forest of Depths of the Earth/Sendai City Tomizawa Site Museum

The Museum of the Forest of Depths of the Earth (or Sendai City Tomizawa Site Museum) is as epic as its name implies. You’ll find the museum at Sendai’s southernmost ward, Taihaku-ku.

They mainly exhibit a preserved fossilized forest with remains of human activity dating back 20,000 years ago, including an ancient campfire, hundreds of stone tools, and an interpretation of how they theorize it appeared back then via projection.

19. Day Trip to Naruko Gorge

Around 70 kilometers from Sendai at the northwest part of Miyagi Prefecture lies one of the Tohoku region’s most picturesque gorges.

Naruko Gorge stretches about two kilometers east-west and is best viewed at the observation deck near the western end of the gorge near the Narukokyo Resthouse.

Around mid-October to early November, the colors of fall paint the landscape, offering a magnificent view of the gorge along with the Ofukazawa Bridge, another famous view.

Naruko Gorge

20. Visit the Osaki Hachimangu Shrine

Ōsaki Hachimangū is a Shinto shrine in Aoba-ku dedicated to the Shinto god of war, Hachiman, and is one of Japan’s National Treasures. The shrine itself is a feast for the eyes, with black lacquer, gold leaf designs, and other brilliant colors.

Though different festivals take place at the shrine, it is most famous for the Dontosai, which takes place every January 14, and is a must-see for any adventurers visiting Sendai!

21. Participate in Sendai’s Summer Tanabata Festival

The biggest celebration of the Tanabata Festival throughout Japan is in Sendai. It celebrates the meeting of star-crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi, two deities who are only allowed to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month each year (though the actual date varies, so be sure to check in advance).

There are seven types of colorful decorations called Nanatsu Kazari to be seen throughout the city, each with its own meaning and name. The most popular of these is the fukinagashi, which also has a city-wide competition. The designs range from artistic to even popular characters and stuff.

Aside from the decorations, you can also watch traditional dances, and in the evening there is a fireworks display.

Sendai's Summer Tanabata Festival

22. Play Taiko no Tatsujin

While doing a little shopping at the covered streets of Sunmall Ichibancho there was a rhythmic sound coming from one of the shops and I immediately headed in that direction. The noise led me to a game center where teens were playing the very popular Taiko no Tatsujin. The drumming game, where you try to play two drums in tune with the music, is most similar to the popular American game Guitar Hero. Watching these kids expertly pound their sticks was like being at a concert! Of course I had to give it a try (you should too!)

It’s a lot harder then it sounds!

Annette playing Taiko no Tatsujin

23. Ride the Loople Sendai Bus

The Loople Sendai is a sightseeing bus that makes a loop around the center of the city, stopping at tourist hotspots along the way. If you make the entire loop in one shot it will take about an hour and fifteen minutes, but you can also buy a one-day pass that makes it easy to hop on and off at your leisure. It’s the easiest and the cheapest way to get around!

24. Take the Kids to the Sendai Anpanman Children’s Museum

On your visit to Sendai, you’ll find a museum dedicated to Japanese children’s’ beloved superhero and his friends, the Sendai Anpanman Children’s Museum!

If you are not familiar with this cute and sweet superhero, Anpanman is the protagonist of the Japanese children’s book (and anime) of the same name. One thing to note about him is that his head is literally made of anpan, a Japanese bread filled with red bean paste.

Inside, your kids will surely love the Anpanman-themed playground, with slides, tubes, and lots more. They will also get to meet Anpanman himself with his friends as they roam around.

There are also tons of Anpanman merchandise inside that you can take home with you, from clothes to toys to cakes and sweets and more.

25. Go to the Sendai City Museum

Located down the northern slope of the Sendai Castle Ruins, the Sendai City Museum offers a vast collection of ancient artifacts, from weapons and armors to pottery and art, as well as exhibits showing Sendai’s history.

One of the museum’s highlights is Date Masamune’s original jet-black suit of armor: the Gomai-do Gusoku, which is available for public viewing on special occasions.

Outside the museum, don’t miss the garden area, where you’ll find an ancient tea house, the castle remains, and more!

26. Sendai Mediatheque

If you are into architecture then make a stop at the Sendai Mediatheque, a place that is the home-base for a variety of cultural activities in the city. The visit can start with admiring the impressive exterior architecture — seven floors of clear glass windows! Make sure to get a glimpse of the buildings outside during the daylight, but also at night when the lights inside will be shining. The interior is just as architecturally beautiful, starting with the ground floor where there was a cafe and cute gift shop filled with unique items.

The 3rd & 4th floor is a library with over half a million books! And at the top there is an area for the locals to read, write or gather for meetings. If I lived in Sendai I would definitely come here on a regular basis to write articles for my blog!

Sendai Mediatheque

27. Shop at the Sendai Morning Market

If you are looking to buy some grub, then head on over to Sendai Asaichi (Morning Market) near the JR Sendai Station. It is a narrow but vibrant market area selling fresh seafood, meat & vegetables, flowers, and other local specialties.

What’s more, is that they are open until 6 PM daily, so you’ll have plenty of time to grab yourself a bite while exploring!

28. See the Sendai Pageant of Starlight

Sendai’s Pageant of Starlight is the largest winter illumination display in the Tohoku region. Over 600,000 Christmas lights illuminate the zelkova trees lining up Jozenji-dori Street throughout December.

Strolling down this “Tunnel of Illumination” is more than enough to make you feel the festive season in the air, with plenty of Instagrammable displays for your picture-taking pleasure!

There’s also a temporary ice rink across the nearby Kotodai Park during this season. And with lots of restaurants and bars around the street, it’s easy to take a break and warm yourself up with a hot meal or some tea.

Sendai Pageant of Starlight

29. Shop at Sendai Station Area

If you are heading back to Tokyo by train, leave yourself a little shopping time at Sendai Station. We arrived about an hour and a half early, which gave us plenty of time. We stored our luggage in a conveniently placed locker and perused the souvenir shops, most of which were selling hundreds of different types of food, which is a common gift in Japan to bring to family and friends. It was fun just to look at the varieties of cookies, candies and noodles for sale!

Plus, the station is also located right next to a shopping mall and district, so it’s easy to spend several hours here! After buying a few gifts, we stopped for drinks at one of the many local cafes. When it was time to catch the train, we simply picked up our luggage, grabbed one last Zunda shake  and went to the platform. Super easy!

Shop at Sendai Station Area

30. Sleep in a Traditional Ryokan

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn where the floors are typically tatami mats and the rooms are separated with sliding shōji doors. When I opened the door to my room at the Hotel Sakan, I may have let out a squeal. For one night I would be enjoying this traditional ryokan, and its onsen (see #4) that was over 1,000 years old!

It was not what I expected from an old ryokan, it was so much more luxurious. A short table sat in the middle of the main room which was perfect for my morning cup of tea. I would have never left my room if they didn’t have a delicious restaurant and four onsen on premise, giving me a chance to relax in communal baths that are supplied by natural hot springs. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that would be worth every penny.

Annette at a Ryokan

31. Snack of Korokke (Croquettes)

A visit to Asaichi Market will make you wish you had a kitchen to cook all the fresh vegetables, fish and meats that is sold in a few dozen shops along the passageway. But, even without an oven you can get a hot and tasty snack without any work at all. The most delicious stop was to a korokke stand where they were frying croquettes right before your eyes. Though they can be filled with a variety of ingredients, it is mostly potato-based.

Better than any hash-brown!

I order one and they handed it to me hot and wrapped in paper. It was perfectly crunchy on the outside and like a soft mashed potato on the inside. It was one of my favorite things I ate in all of Sendai!

Annette eating Korokke

32. Try Hagi no Tsuki

Another iconic sweet in Sendai. Hagi no Tsuki is a sponge cake resembling the autumn moon, filled with rich custard cream inside. Kasho Sanzen, a sweets manufacturer in Sendai, makes this delectable treat.

The fluffy soft cake followed by the mild sweetness of the custard cream is sure to make you a fan the more you eat it! It also makes for a perfect souvenir gift and can be bought almost anywhere, like in Sendai Airport, the train stations, general stores, to name a few.

33. Soak in Sendai’s Famous Hot Springs

As Japan is a volcanically active country, you’ll find plenty of hot springs around to unwind and soak yourself into, and Sendai is no exception.

From the mineral-rich waters of the hot springs to the scenic views surrounding them, it will definitely be one of the most relaxing experiences you will get!

The following are some of the best hot springs you should try at least once when in Sendai:

  • Sakunami Onsen
  • Akiu Onsen
  • Matsushima Onsen
  • Togatta Onsen
  • Naruko Hot Springs

34. Tour Miyagi Museum of Art

The Miyagi Museum of Art boasts a collection of works primarily related to Miyagi Prefecture and the Tohoku region. Aside from their permanent collection, they also host special exhibitions which differ each year.

They also hold art ranging from sculptures to paintings (and more) from other Japanese and Western artists, including works by Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee and the Miyagi-born, world-famous sculptor Churyo Sato.

Other than viewing the stunning artworks, you can also make your own one at their studio, which is free and open during the museum’s open hours. There is also a stylish café for you to have some drinks, a courtyard with different sculptures, and a rear garden looking down on the Hirosegawa River.

35. Tour the Kirin Brewery

For beer lovers out there, a tour to Kirin Brewery, one of Japan’s top beer brands, will surely be a delight for the taste buds! Their Sendai factory is located at the Miyagino Ward in Sendai.

During the 70-min tour, you will get to see the facilities, smell/taste/touch the malt being used for their beers, as well as how they process it. Of course, the tour is not complete without a tasting session at the end!

There is also a gift shop and a restaurant here, so be sure to check these out too.

36. See Tsutsujigaoka Park During Cherry Blossom Season

If you are planning to visit Sendai during spring (mid-March to early May), then you are in luck! During this season, more than 360 cherry blossom trees are in bloom at Tsutsujigaoka Park in the eastern part of Sendai.

There are also food stalls available during this time where you can grab a bite of some Japanese festival food and some local sake. The view during the evening is something to look forward to as well, with softly-lit lanterns hanging across the trees.

Tsutsujigaoka Park

37. Visit an Onsen

Japan is well known for its hot springs and the onsen (public baths) that surround them. The Hotel Sakan onsen is one of the most famous ones in all of Japan, because they have a variety of baths overlooking the Natori River and have been around for 34 generations. Known to be a source of good health and a healer of many different ailments, the natural warm water is also very relaxing.

Sakan not only has several warm baths to soak in, but it is also a traditional ryokan as well where you can sleep (see #15). It made for a perfect evening for me, a little soaking and then right up to my room for some shut eye!

38. Visit the Daikannon Statue

Some places have iconic statues associated with them, like the Statue of Liberty in New York and Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro. At Sendai, they have the Daikannon Statue.

Towering at over 100 meters tall (328 feet) in the northern part of Sendai, it is the second tallest Kannon statue in Japan (fifth in the world) and serves as the city’s symbol of peace and protection.

You’ll be able to go inside and up the statue, offering a scenic view of Sendai at the top. The massive statue also makes for some great photos when taken from afar.

Visit the Daikannon Statue

39. Visit the Tsunami Devastation

In 2011 a 9.0 earthquake hit the Pacific coast of Tōhoku which triggered a devastating tsunami and deaths of thousands of people. A tour outside of Sendai’s city center, to the areas of the most devastation, will be heartbreaking, informational and inspiring all rolled into one. Reading about it in a magazine or book can not compare to visiting the sites of the destroyed homes and seeing the ruins first hand.

We were shown the before photos, then walked on the sites where peoples homes and businesses used to be. Our tour driver was also so gracious to share his personal story about helping the victims and searching for his missing brother-in-law, which made you feel even closer to the devastation. There was an inspirational side to the ride too, it was in all the efforts made to rebuild the community that they loved.

It’s not any easy location to get to, but you can either rent a car to explore the tsunami devastated area or find a tour.

Tsunami Devastation

40. Visit Zuihoden

Visiting the mausoleum of the feudal lord Date Masamune is quite surreal. Known as Zuihōden, the dreamlike feeling of a visit could be from the giant cedar trees surrounding the walkways or the moss covered stone statues or the ornate buildings that depict the Momoyama cultural traditions. My favorite part of the buildings were the intricate woodwork and gold trimming.

Zuihōden is also a peaceful place where some come to just stroll through the lush grounds on the weekend. I don’t blame them! Plus, at the base of the hill there is a stunning temple that is a must visit before ascending to the mausoleum.

Annette at Zuihoden

41. Wine Tasting at Akiu Winery

I am not afraid to admit that I absolutely adore wine, so it was thrilling to hear about Sendai’s Akiu Winery, a trendy tasting room that can compete with many in the Napa Valley. This winery was created because the architect-owner wanted to help rebuild Sendai after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in 2011. His idea was to create a place that paired wine with oysters.

Wine + Oysters = The Perfect Pair

They are still testing many different varietals and techniques for the future, but they are on a great path with the wine that they already have. We were even taken into the attic to see drying grapes hanging from the ceilings, an Italian technique that the winemaker had brought over.

Even if wine isn’t your jam, you should stop by to shop at their little gift shop that has some of the cutest products.

Annette at Akiu Winery in Sendai Japan

Truly one of the hidden gems in the country, Sendai Japan is the ideal city for a perfect holiday adventure, from the many festivals to delicious specialty cuisine to scenic Instagram-worthy views and so much more.

If you are thinking of visiting someplace new in Japan, I hope this list has enticed you to a fun-filled trip to the City of Trees. So pack your bags and be ready for a fantastic adventure in Sendai!

Essential Tips for Visiting Sendai

Getting There: Sendai Airport has flights to and from several domestic airports in Japan including Narita (Tokyo) and Itami (Osaka) to name a few. Sendai Airport also has a few international flight connections from China, South Korea, and Taiwan.You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. From the airport to the city center, you can use the train, which is connected to central Sendai and Sendai Station by the Sendai Airport Line. You can also take a bus, take a shuttle, catch a taxi or purchase a private shuttle in advance. If you’re traveling from Tokyo, you can get to Sendai in an hour and a half by Japan’s Shinkansen (the bullet train).

Where to Stay in Sendai: It’s best to stay near the city center, public transportation or the area that you will be spending the most time in. Hotel Metropolitan Sendai East (moderate) is a great choice in the Aoba Ward. The Daiwa Roynet Hotel Sendai (moderate) is also a great option close to the city center. For something on the less expensive side, try Nine Hours Sendai, a unique capsule hotel experience located in Aoba Ward. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the Westin Hotel Sendai. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.

Getting Around: Driving in Sendai can be a bit of a challenge and parking fees can be expensive, but if you choose to rent a car, has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of options. The best way to travel around Sendai is by Loople Sendai, a loop bus connecting the top attractions. Taxis are also available all over the city

City Transportation Passes: The Sendai Area Pass is valid for one calendar day. This pass provides unlimited use of the Loople Bus, the subway, most of Sendai City’s busses, and JR trains in and around Sendai. The Sendai Area Pass costs ¥1300 for 1 day.

Best Tours in Sendai: You can find some of the top tours at Get Your Guide or Viator, and here are some of the top ones:

Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing at Travelex Insurance.

Universal Adapter: Your American plugged equipment will need an adapter. I use the Celtic Universal Adapter, which has brought me around the world with no problems.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. For more information read my full disclosure.

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15 thoughts on “Sendai Bucket List: 40 Things to do in the Japanese City”

  1. Hello! I’ll be in Sendai for a week and I so want to see the Distillery and Winery but I know only a few words in Japanese. Are these things that should, or rather, can only be done by those who can understand/speak Japanese?

    • Hello! Even though the distillery tour is guided in Japanese, you can ask for an English translation box so you can hear recorded information along the way. I would recommend getting a translator app for your phone or find a website and have a few sentences ready to go that you can just show them (like “I’d like two tickets, please”), just in case. But, there have been many cases that I made my way through Japan by just using simple hand gestures, like pointing :)

  2. Have always thought of traveling to Japan, but seemed to get scared away by all the Earthquakes and such. Your article and photos certainly a great inspiration to visit this beautiful country one day! :)

    • Earthquakes are rare. And most of them aren’t damaging. Lived here for 2 years and I’ve only seen one or two that did more than shake the windows a bit.

  3. Thank you for the information. I live in Tochigi Prefecture and I’m planing a trip to Sendai during summer vacation. Your article gave me a good amount of info on things to do. I did not know they did a tour of the tsunami affected areas. That is definitely something I’ll do when I go up there. Everyone else goes to the typical tourist cities but from what I’ve heard about Sendai, it’s like an unsung hero. I only passed through Sendai on my way to Ishinomaki and it looked like a great place to visit.

    • It is definitely nice to get out of the popular places in a country to explore some of the lessor visited ones. Sendai is filled with incredible things to see and do, so have a great time!

  4. Hi your whole blog is fab and very informative. I am going on the 9th February and suspect it will be cold then. Can you recommend a hotel not too fancy but it would have to be a nice place to stay.

  5. Hi. I’m from Miyagi prefecture and lived in Sendai for many years still yet so many things so many places I didn’t know. Your blog reminds me how beautiful and wonderful place it is. I’m feeling very blessed. Thank you.
    PS I’m living in New Zealand at this moment. It’s a very nice place to be, TOO.


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Hey Bucket Listers!
I'm Annette.

I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

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