Sendai Stroll: Taking a Walk Around Japan’s City of Trees With Chinese Influencer Etsuna

27.November.2020 | FEATURES / SPOT

Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture and the largest city in Japan’s Tohoku region, is a two-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo. The city has earned the nickname Mori no Miyako, or ‘City of Trees,’ due to the abundant rows of zelkova trees lining many of its streets. It bustles with charm and is enjoyed by locals and tourists for its history, sights, and events, such as its associations with the Japanese regional ruler Date Masamune, the famous Sendai Tanabata Festival, and more. However, there are many other incredible locations that Sendai has to offer that aren’t as well known as the popular sites, so today we are joined by Etsuna who is giving us the latest in what can be found in the city.

 

Along The Coast

The coast of Sendai was struck by a tsunami when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck back on in March 2011. Today, the area is continuing its re-development efforts. New facilities have and are being built, including plenty of new spots the area never had before. Sendai is home to a memorial hall for remembering those affected during the disaster which is a must-visit if travelling to Sendai.

 

Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium

Feel the sea breeze and ocean water of Tohoku against your skin

Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium opened in 2015 as the larrgest aquarium in the Tohoku region. The first floor is themed on the waters of Tohoku where many rare aquatic species from the Sanriku Coast are housed. The second floor is centred on sea creatures found in the oceans around the world such as tropical fish, jellyfish, marine mammals, and other familiar faces.

 

Visitors can even meet ascidians there which are famous in the Sanriku Coast.

The large fish tanks let in a lot of natural light, recreating the beauty of the Sanriku sea.

There’s also a special spot where you can get up close to some of the fish!

The aquarium offers an optional program where visitors can feed the penguins.

“It’s a pretty big aquarium,” said Etsuna. “It was great to see all of the different things they have on display. I had a lot of fun feeding the penguins too!”

 

Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium

Address: 4-6 Nakano, Miyagino-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (May change depending ont he season)
No Fixed Holidays
TEL: 022-355-2222
Access: 10-minutes by shuttle bus (free ride) from JR Nakanosakae Station
Price: Adults ¥2,200 / Seniors, High School and Junior High School Children ¥1,600 / Elementary School Children ¥1,100 / Infants ¥600 (All Tax-Inclusive)

Official Website: http://www.uminomori.jp/umino/

 

Sendai Chuooroshiuri Market

Fresh fish at an affordable price

Sendai Chuooroshiuri Market is like the kitchen of Sendai. The food shops there were opened by locals. Visitors will find many different bites to eat when visiting. Etsuna visited Sushi Yoshi, a restaurant in the area so popular that there’s always a line.

The restaurant’s name, Sushi Yoshi, suggests that it’s a sushi restaurant, but they actually serve common delicacies like rice bowls and set meals.

Maguro Sanshudon | ¥1,500

This rice bowl contains three kinds of maguro tuna, so much in fact that you can’t even see the rice!

“You can enjoy delicious fresh fish at a reasonable price. You might have to wait in line, but it’s totally worth it!”

 

 Sushi Yoshi
Address: 4-3-1 Oroshimachi, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 6:30-13:30
Closed: Wednesdays and Sundays
TEL: 022-232-8042
Access: 20-minutes by bus from Sendai Station

 

Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center

Learn the story of the disaster

Inside Arai Station, which is the last stop on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, you can find the Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center where visitors can learn all about how the Great East Japan Earthquake affected Sendai through the exhibition rooms and in the communal space.

The first floor features a panel with a 3D map of how the tsunami inundated the region as a result of the earthquake.

Up on the second floor is a permanent exhibition showcasing the restoration and restoration efforts of the community as well as real photos from around the time of the disaster.

There are also staff members there who survived the disaster and can describe their experiences as well as current issues facing Sendai.

“I got teary when the speaker told me about the hardships they faced at that time,” explains Etsuna. “The people of Sendai are living their lives looking forward, and I have a lot of respect for them.”

 

Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center
Address: Kutsugata-85 Arai, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00
Closed: Mondays (or Tuesday if the Monday falls on a public holiday) / Day after public holiday / New Year Holidays
TEL: 022-390-9022
Access: Arai Station
Entry: Free

Official Website: http://sendai311-memorial.jp

 

Sendai Arahama Elementary School

The school that still stands after the earthquake disaster

On the day of the Tohoku earthquake, many local residents fled to Sendai Arahama Elementary School where 320 people were trapped including the evacuees, children, and teachers, before managing to escape safely to the roof. The school is now open as a memorial to preserve the memories of those who survived.

The tsunami that struck after the earthquake made it to the second floor of the school. These first two floors have been kept untouched and are as they were on the day.

There are photos as well as video footage exhibited on the fourth floor where the tsunami didn’t reach.

From the school building’s roof you can gaze at the peaceful coastline.

“Seeing the place that was hit by the tsunami up close has really changed my outlook on life. There is green in the surrounding area. I felt life budding all around.”

 

Sendai Arahama Elementary School
Address: Shinborihata-32-1 Arahama, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 9:30-16:00
Closed: Mondays / Every 4th Thursday of the month / New Year Holidays
TEL: 022-355-861
Access: 15-minutes by bus from Arai Station
Entry: Free

 

Akiu Area

Akiu Onsen is a spa town known to locals as the ‘living room’ of Sendai. It’s a 30-50 minute bus ride from Sendai Station. It has been nicknamed one of Japan’s Three Baths alongside Bessho Onsen and Nozawa Onsen, both in Nagano Prefecture. It’s another place that Date Masamune frequented many times.

 

Rairaikyo Gorge

A stroll along the gorge path

Rairaikyo Gorge gets its name from the abundance of enormous rocks that have been eroded by the Natori River and given them strange shapes. The Kanji ‘rai’ used in the gorge’s name literally means ‘many rocks.’ The gorge is home to a 1-km path that people can walk along and soak up the incredible natural environment that offers sights to behold throughout the year. From late October to mid November, when the autumn leaves are in bloom, the area is also lit up in the evenings.

The heart-shaped hollow in the rocks as pictured above is considered a sacred place for couples.

Taking a stroll along the path one sees maple trees aplenty. Visiting during the height of autumn graces you with a colourful scene you wouldn’t want to miss.

“I feel healed having gotten to take a leisurely stroll through nature,” explained Etsuna. “The rocks of Akiu have some interesting shapes.”

 

Rairaikyo Gorge

Address: Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
Access: Approx. 40 minutes by bus from Sendai Station

 

Akiu-sha

A stylish, old fashioned cafe in the hot spring town


When taking a trip to Akiu Onsen, one hot spot that’s a must-visit is Akiu-sha, a restaurant that was renovated from an old private farm house from the Edo Period. During the day it serves lunch food and drinks while in the evenings it’s used for events like private parties.

There’s an open garden at the site which is sometimes used for weddings. At the back are vegetable plots tended to by the restaurant.

Akiu-sha Lunch | ¥1,280 (Before Tax)

The Akiu-sha Lunch is made with fresh vegetables grown in both their own plot as well as from around Akiu.

Akiu Saiseki Chocolate | ¥850 (Before Tax)

A white chocolate dessert inspired by the unique rocks of Akiu. Customers can use the little wooden hammer to break apart the dessert to create a rubble of chocolate.

The inside of the restaurant is spacious with towering beams holding it up.

“The vegetables are so fresh, I couldn’t believe how tasty they were! This flavour is unique to this place.”

 

Akiu-sha
Address: Nozoki-9-4 Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 11:00-17:00 (Last Food Orders 14:30 / Cafe Last Orders 16:00)
Closed: Tuesdays
TEL: 022-724-7767 (Bookings not possible)
Access: 50-minutes by bus from Sendai Station

Official Website: http://akiuwinery.co.jp

 

Akiu Winery

Taste and compare different original wines

Akiu Winery in Akiu Onsen was the first winery to open in Sendai. It’s home to an enormous grape field, and inside is the brewery itself as well as a dining area and shop. They serve an array of original wines.

As well as originals, Akiu Winery also stocks famous wines from Sendai.

Merlot Red Wine 2018 (Sample) | Koshu Sur Lie 2019 (750ml) ¥2,300 | Steuben Rosé 2019 (750ml) ¥2,000 (All Before Tax)

Akiu Winery’s line-up of wines are famous in Sendai.

At the back of the winery is the expansive grape field.

Craft Grill | ¥1,330

At the outdoor terrace you can enjoy a BBQ grill together with a glass of wine.

“The sight of the grape field made me feel like I was in France. You can enjoy a BBQ too so I definitely want people to come here!”

 

Akiu Winery
Address: Biwaharanishi-6, Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
Official Website: http://akiuwinery.co.jp

Akiu Great Falls

The Three Great Waterfalls of Japan

Akiu Great Falls is considered one of Japan’s three most famous waterfalls alongside Kegon Falls in Tochigi Prefecture and Nachi Falls in Wakayama Prefecture. It’s about 15-minutes by car downstream from Akiu Onsen and is also accessible by bus.

They have a retro shop at the entrance of the waterfall.

Also located next to the waterfall is Akiu-Otaki Fudoson, a temple surrounded by dense green foliage and enormous gingko trees.

“Being in nature really relaxed me and took away the day’s stress! It’s quite a walk to the waterfall basin so you get plenty of exercise too.”

 

Akiu Great Falls
Address: Otaki Akiumachi Baba, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
TEL: 022-398-2323 (Akiu Onsen Tourist Information Center)
Access: 50-minutes by bus from Sendai Station (Running on weekends and public holidays only)

 

Around Sendai Station

Sendai Station can be considered as the doorstep of Japan’s Tohoku region. It of course runs JR East’s Tohoku Shinkansen bullet trains as well as operates Sendai Subway services and buses. The area around the station is great for finding tasty local delicacies, shopping, and souvenir-buying.

 

WANOSHOKU NIKAI

Seri-nabe is Sendai’s new specialty food

If you’re asked to give an example of a famous speciality food product from Sendai, chances are people will jump straight to the city’s gyutan beef tongue, but what has been the talk of the town recently is seri-nabe. Seri-nabe is a type of hotpot cooked with Japanese parsley (‘seri’) – one of Japan’s seven spring flowers. Miyagi Prefecture boasts as a top class producer of Japanese parsley. The hotpot is served in a simple duck broth which allows the fragrance of the parsley to come through.

“I can’t get enough of the crunchy texture of the [parsley] roots! It was delicious, I had a refreshing soy sauce soup finished with ramen.”

 

WASHOKU NIKAI
Address: 2-5-15 Ichibanchō, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 17:00-Midnight
No Fixed Holidays
TEL: 022-224-6040

 

Iroha Yokocho

Bar crawl deep into the back streets

The side streets of the Sunmall Ichibancho arcade have a retro Japanese vibe to them, packed full of shops that make one feel nostalgic.

The long, winding alleys feature plenty of Instagram-worthy spots.

“This is a great spot for enjoying a bar crawl, just having a light drink and then moving onto the next place. Even if you don’t drink there’s tasty food to enjoy too!”

 

Iroha Yokocho

Address: 2-3-28 Ichibancho, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
TEL: 022-223-3151

S-PAL Sendai

A fashion mall connected to the station

S-PAL is a fashion mall directly connected to Sendai Station, home to apparel stores, restaurants, souvenir shops, sundry sellers, and more. Here are some sundry stores selling a variety of miscellaneous items perfect as souvenir purchases.

 

Nakagawa Masashichi

This is an old-time chain that has been around for 300 years. Specialising in lifestyle goods, this S-PAL branch is the only one in all of Tohoku.

Its interior design has a retro feel to it with shelves and tables piled with cute bits and bobs.

Kaya-ori Tea Towel | ¥440 (Tax Included)

A specialty product of Tohoku, this tea towel is made using the traditional weaving technique of kaya-ori. Exclusive to Tohoku.

 

IORI

IORI is another shop you’ll only find in the Tohoku area. They sell imabari towels which are perfect as gifts to yourself or another.

Handkerchiefs | ¥600 Each (Tax Included)〜

These handkerchiefs are only sold in Sendai and feature a variety of embroidered motifs like the windsocks of the Sendai Tanabata Festival, kokeshi dolls, the helmet of Date Masamune, and more.

 

KANEIRI STANDARD STORE

A select shop stocking stationery and other trinkets that promote the culture and craftsmanship of Tohoku. This store is right next to Sendai Station and has plenty of souvenir-worthy items, so it’s absolutely worth a visit.

As well as lifestyle goods, the store also sells items made in Miyagi, like kokeshi dolls.

Matsukawa Daruma | ¥1,300 (Before Tax)

These Matsukawa Daruma are super cute, especially the blue one which is inspired by the Sendai Domain, also known as the Date Domain.

 

Dagashiya Zousan

Dagashiya Zousan sells old-time Japanese sweets and confections, stocked with many popular treats from Tohoku adored by both kids and adults alike.

The traditional sweets are all packed together along the shelves and up the walls.

 

The popular souvenir shops of Sendai

You can’t go home after a fun trip without picking up a souvenir, so here’s s line-up of shops that have been surging in popularity recently in Sendai, all of which sell Sendai-specific items.

 

Drinkable zunda at Agurienomori Mitte

Drinkable Zunda | ¥370 (Before Tax)

Zunda are mashed green soybeans boiled and turned into a sweet paste. They are also a local delicacy. Zunda mochi are very famous, but zunda beverages are popular too. This shop sells a variety of zunda treats to pick from.

 

Bamboo grass kamaboko at Kanezaki-ya

There are many makers of sasa-kamaboko, or bamboo grass fish paste, but what makes Kanezaki-ya’s so great is how it retains the original umami flavour and plump texture of the fish.

 

Zaou cheese at Tohoku Meguri Irotoiro

Zaou Cream Cheese, Vanilla Cream Spread | ¥557 Each (Before Tax)

A food select shop selling a range of different ingredients. Their kaou cheese with sweet vanilla is their most popular item.

“It’s a fashion mall so of course they sell clothes, but they had a bunch of other stuff too, everything from traditional Japanese daruma to food. I really recommend S-PAL Sendai if you’re searching for souvenirs!”

 

S-PAL Sendai
Address: 1-1-1 Chuo, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 10:00-20:00 (Restaurant wing open 11:00-22:00)
No Fixed Holidays
TEL: 022-267-2111
Access: Connected directly to Sendai Station
Official Website: https://www.s-pal.jp/sendai/ 

 

“Sendai looking and progressing into the future as it overcomes the effects of the disaster. It’s a place with amazing food, fun shops, and is teeming with nature. If you’ve never been to Sendai before, then be sure to visit and have fun!”

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    You’re sure to snatch an Instagram moment in front of this neon sign which reads 桜―that’s ‘sakura’ in Japanese!

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    There’s even a rooftop area which provides a panoramic view of Harajuku. This space can be used for parties, BBQs and whatever else you can think of! But keep in mind that the roof can be reserved by non-guests too in which case access will be restricted. Be sure to find out in advance if you’re thinking of using it.

    How did you find your stay at MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS -SAKURA-, Etsuna and Ren?

     

    Etsuna: “From a foreigner’s perspective, I really felt the Japanese-ness towards the sakura which is great. The dresser is huge too, I’m happy that two people can do their makeup at the same time! The place is not only cute, but it’s made in such a way that the functionality of the room is easy to use. It felt heart-warming to be there.”

     

    Ren: “When it comes to lots of girls wanting a place to get together, not for travel but just to hang out, love hotels are the mainstream, but ‘fun’ and ‘cute’ don’t really stand together in a place like that. But here, five people can stay together, and no matter where they take photos it’s going to look cute! Plus it’s in Harajuku, you can get some stylish-looking food and drinks from nearby cafés for takeout and stay up late. That sounds amazing. I can think of so many things!”

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    Running: January 23, 2021 – March 7, 2021
    Location: Odawara Flower Garden
    Address: 3798-5 Kuno, Odawara, Kanagawa
    Entry: Free
    Parking: Free
    Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00

    *No holidays for the duration of the event – open every day

     

    Keiryu no Baien Guide Tour

    Takayuki Otsubo, the president of the garden, is also an advisor on the management of its plants. He will be offering a detailed tour for the event.

     

    Date: February 21, 2021
    Times: 10:30 / 13:30 (1 hour each)
    Participation: Free
    Capacity: 30 per slot (first-come, first-served)

    *Tour will be held seated indoors if it rains

     

    Keiryu no Baien Flowers and Kimono Girls

    A kimono rental and fitting service will be available at the event so visitors can take photo next to the gorgeous flowers while adorned in traditional Japanese dress.

     

    Date: February 13, 2021
    Time: 9:30-16:00 (Bookable slots)
    Price: ¥3,000 (Tax/Rental/Fitting included)
    No. of People: 15 (Booking required)
    Bookings: By phone call by February 7, 2021
    TEL: 0465-34-2814

    *Must be at least 140m tall
    *Visitors are asked to do their own makeup
    *Male kimono are available in limited quantities

     

    Plum Menu

    The Odawara Flower Garden cafe, Cafe Hibiscus, is serving a selection of plum blossom themed meals and drinks for the festival. This includes the above-pictured new soba noodle dish, which is topped with plum pulp grown in Odawara as well as kamaboko fish cake, shrimp fritters, and spring onion. The broth in particular is worth of note which the staff went to great lengths to create. There’s also plum blossom ice cream too made with nanko plums, as well as other delicious bites.

     

    Plum Blossom Festival Soba Noodles – ¥600 (Tax Included) / With Drink ¥700 (Tax Included)

    Plum Ice Cream – ¥380 (Tax Included)

    Location: Cafe Hibiscus
    Opening Hours: 10:00-16:00 (Last Orders 15:30)
    *No holidays for the duration of the event – open every day

     

    Plum Blossom Souvenirs


    A selection of plum blossom-themed souvenirs will be available like umeboshi dried plum, plum jelly, and more.

     

    Available: From early January 2021
    Location: Entrance souvenir corner
    Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00

  • Super Nintendo World Releases Virtual Tour of Entire Theme Park Area

    07.January.2021 | ANIME&GAME / SPOT

    Universal Studios Japan (USJ) announced last month that its highly-anticipated new Super Nintendo World area will open on February 4, 2021, which also happens to fall on the day of USJ’s 20th anniversary.

     

    Super Nintendo World comes as the world’s first theme park area to be based around Nintendo’s characters and games, combining innovative ideas with cutting-edge technology.

     

    With just one month left until the grand opening, USJ has launched a special website for Super Nintendo World which offers a virtual tour through each part of the new theme park area. Mario fanatics are sure to be delighted by the adornments from Bowser’s Castle to Pipes, Mushrooms, Question blocks, and more, as well as familiar faces like Goombas, Thwomps, Yoshi—the list goes on.

     

    Accessing the site will bring you to an overview of the map. As you scroll down the website takes you on a virtual journey to each of its iconic attractions, all of which are designed to make you feel like you’re really in the world of Super Mario.

  • teamLab Reconnect Project Combines Art With the Sauna Experience in Roppongi

    06.January.2021 | SPOT

    Art collective teamLab has announced the opening of teamLab Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna Roppongi which will run for half a year starting this March in Roppngi, Tokyo.

     

    Since 2019, teamLab has been combining saunas with digital art to create wholly new and unique sauna experiences never before seen.

    teamLab Reconnect’s aim is not to offer a luxury and high-end venue for seeing artwork, but to put visitors into a luxurious state to experience the art. Through contrast bath therapy, where visitors are placed in a hot sauna followed by cold water and then relaxation, they can open their minds and senses to a variety of artworks and in essence become part of the art itself. teamLab hopes this will enable visitors to realise their own existence―their mind, body, and environment―and in turn ‘reconnect’ with the world and time.

    Levitation
    teamLab, 2021, Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi

    teamLab Reconnect will welcome a variety of new artworks based on teamLab’s new art project ‘Supernature Phenomenon’ which captures different natural phenomena in nature.

    Proliferating Immense Life – A Whole Year per Year
    teamLab, 2020, Interactive Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi

    This artwork captures the life cycle of flowers. It is not a pre-recorded image that is played back; it is created by a computer program that continuously renders the work in real time. The interaction between people and the installation causes continuous change in the artwork, meaning previous visual states can never be replicated, and will never reoccur.

     

    Since opening their sauna in Mifuneyama Rakuen in Kyushu back in 2019, which won the SAUNACHELIN two years in a row in 2019 and 2020, teamLab has gone on to create new works of sauna art such as teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live and teamLab Ruins and Heritage: Rinkan Spa & Tea Ceremony.

  • hotel androoms Announces Opening of New Kyoto Shijo Branch in March

    06.January.2021 | SPOT

    Solare Hotels and Resorts has announced that a new branch of hotels androoms will open in Kyoto Shijo on March 6, 2021. In the run up to its grand opening, the company has opened a website where guests can book hotels with Solare Hotels and Resorts at the cheapest possible price. The website will begin rolling out more information about each hotel on the site through the year.

     

    Access

    hotel androoms Kyoto Shijo is located a convenient 5-minute walk from Kyoto Station’s Karasuma Line section and 7 minutes from the Central Exit in the JR section, placing it within close distance to many of Kyoto’s sightseeing spots.

     

    The hotel offers seven different room types from standard to double to premium twin. One room can house a maximum of three people, accommodating groups and families. It also promises to be packed with a variety of exclusive services you won’t find at other hotels.

     

    Specialty coffee by Unir Kyoto

    hotel androoms Kyoto Shijo will welcome the opening of a new branch of Unir inside the hotel which serves coffee made from specially-selected coffee beans. The coffee is hand-roasted on site with baristas pouring their love and skill into every cup.

     

    Breakfast delivered right to your room

    The morning time is your time and should be used as you please without you having to rush around, so says the hotel, and so it offers a breakfast delivery service which must be booked in advance.

     

    Relax and unwind in the modern-style baths

    Those looking for a little relaxation can look forward to pushing all their stresses aside in a modern bathing area which is inspired by a cave. It’s open from 3pm-2am and again from 6am-10am.

     

    If you’re planning a trip to Kyoto and want a hotel with easy access to all the hot spots then be sure to consider hotel androoms Kyoto Shijo.

  • Tokyo Welcomes New KISS,TOKYO Bench at Shibuya River Street

    02.January.2021 | SPOT

    What is being dubbed as a new sightseeing spot in Shibuya, “KISS,TOKYO,” an artistic bench, appeared at Shibuya River Street on Christmas Day. The street runs from SHIBUYA STREAM towards Daikanyama.

     

    About KISS,TOKYO

    “KISS,TOKYO” is a project and nod towards those who love Tokyo, taking inspiration from the “I♡NY” slogan and logo. Japan isn’t a country where kisses are used as greetings like other places around the world, but the bold notion of “KISS,TOKYO” expresses the feeling of love wards the people and city. It’s a mark to welcome visitors to the capital of Japan.

     

    The bench was made in cooperation with the Shibuya City Tourism Association and Tokyu and under a crowdfunder.

     

    Pop-Up Store

    A pop-up shop is now open at WIRED SHIBUYA selling merchandise with the KISS,TOKYO logo on it. It will run until January 31, 2021.

     

    If you’re planning a trip to Shibuya, make sure you get a photo with the city’s new sightseeing and tourist spot.

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