Exploring Sendai in 24 hours!

If you ask a Japanese local about Sendai city, they will usually tell you it is the “City of Trees” and is one of Japan’s greenest cities. There is no other place in Japan where you can observe the harmony of both nature and a modern city as you can do in Sendai. Trees can be found everywhere throughout the streets, in temples, shrines, household gardens. Thanks to these trees, you can enjoy a fresher beauty compared to that of bigger cities like Tokyo or Osaka.

Undeniably, visiting these 3 famous natural views is a MUST DO in Sendai

I visited Sendai as a tourist for the first time in June 2016. I did do some prior research about where to visit because I only had 24 hours (actually only 18 hours excluding sleeping time!) and after thorough consideration (there are too many places!!), I decided to go to these 3 spots – and it was a great decision!

If you are a tourist and only have 24 hours in Sendai, please go to these places and I can assure you, you will not regret your choice.

If you are an international student in Sendai, drop-in to these places during different seasons of the year to enjoy the varied scenery. I will surely visit here again when spring comes.

Aoba Castle

 Why I chose to visit this place first: the castle (well the former site of the castle) lies on a hill and from there you can see the wide scenery of the entire city below. I started my journey departing from Sendai Station.

The fastest and cheapest way you can get to this historical site is by the ‘Sendai City Loople Bus’. It is only 260 yen for one single ride, or you can buy a One-day Loople Sendai Pass at just 620 yen which will allow you to hop-on and hop-off at every famous tourist spot in Sendai. So great right?!

You can catch the Loople Bus from in front of Sendai Station, at the West Exit Bus Stop number 16. The bus stop will have this sign.

You can log into this website to see detailed information about Loople bus and schedule: http://www.sentabi.jp/loople/en/

The bus will take you right to the castle site, but if you want to enjoy the lovely tree-lined walk up to the castle (like me), get off at the International Center bus stop and walk from there (国際センター前 – Kokusaisentamae).

Here is the walk up to the top.
Along a road full of green trees

 

The way in

The noble statue of Date Masamune – the samurai lord who reigned over Sendai City in the 17th Century. Unfortunately, the castle building itself has since been destroyed.

You can also visit Gokoku Shrine in here, get some lucky charms (おみくじ) and visit a museum of modern military history as well.

But the most exciting part for me is the 3D view of the former castle with a special technique. With this technique, they set up a hill model and when you look through a lens, a whole castle will appear on that hill. Unluckily, it is really hard to capture the 3D visual effects with my camera…!

大崎八幡宮 – Osaki Hachimangu Shrine

  Alright, let’s get down from the mountain and visit the second destination – the most famous shrine of Sendai, 大崎八幡宮 – Osaki Hachimangu. You can get here by Loople Bus as well, and stop right in front of Osaki Hachimangu.

This is the picture I took on the New Year Day when every family will come here to pray.

 

The way in. You have to take hundreds stairs to reach to the shrine. It is a tradition of Japan, to get closer to the Gods you have to walk from the bottom.

Importantly, before praying, you have to wash your hands. Start with left hand, then right, then your mouth and then left hand again
The main house where you throw the coin, ring the bells 3 times for praying.

 

There are plenty of colourful Daruma-dolls and lucky charms for you to buy – such unique, Japanese beauty.

I recommend picking up your own Daruma-doll because they are considered one of the luckiest charms of Japan and make lovely decorations for your home.

Here is the place to hang your unlucky Omikuji (fortunes). If you get a lucky one, take it with you to secure your luck. If you got a not-so-good one, hang it here and the shrine will pray for you to protect you from bad-fortune.

輪王寺 - Rinnoji Temple

 Now you can stop and have lunch in a restaurant near the shrine. After lunch, we will move to the third place, 輪王寺 – Rinnoji Temple. Actually, I came here to visit the extraordinary garden because I heard a lot of positive reviews from my friends.

At the gate, you will see an automatic ticket machine, just insert 300 yen and you will get the access into the garden.

At first, the garden looked small but actually it was huge! I took me a full 2 hours to visit every corner and I took some amazing pictures. It has a big pond with hundreds of Koi (Japanese carp), a high pagoda tower with Japanese style architecture and beautiful areas to sit and relax.

The beauty of the garden is splendid.

As of April 1st, 2017, you can now take advantage of the Sendai Area Pass. For just 1300 you can have free access to the Loople Bus system, all subway lines within Sendai City and some select services on JR trains to nearby hot-spots like Matsushima and Shiogama, Yamadera and Shiroishi (home to Fox Village). Definitely not a deal to miss!!

Nhu Hoang – Vietnam

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