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A vibrant city full of wide tree-lined avenues, castle ruins and ancient shrines sitting in the shadow of westerly long-dormant volcanoes, Sendai is the capital of the Miyagi prefecture. Known locally as the "City of Trees", it is known for its open green spaces and rich cultural fabric. Our collection of the best places to stay in Sendai are boutique spots ideal for an authentic experience.
Sendai was founded in 1600 by the powerful samurai lord Date Masamune, who built the castle and organised the city into the gridlock plan that it is today. The Zuihoden Mausoleum, like many of the woodland shrines scattered about the city, was dedicated to him and his inheritors and is an ornate work of extraordinary architectural beauty, perched atop stone steps straddled by a forest. What remains of Sendai Castle is skeletal and haunting - stone walls and a reconstructed turret - but the exhibition inside offers a fascinating insight into what it once looked like, and the views from its position are stunning. To immerse yourself in local history, head over to the Sendai City Museum.
Regardless of the many sights-to-see - from shrines like the Toshogu Shrine and the Komyoji Temple to the renowned Rinno-ji Temple, with its beautiful gardens, and the Osaki Hachimangu Shrine, a national treasure - there are many things to do in the city. For an afternoon excursion, consider heading to the Akiu Craft Park, an arts & crafts centre specialising in traditional industries, where you can try your hand at doll making and painting. After a hot day out of sightseeing, check out the Sakan "onsen" baths, where you can bathe in the local hot springs. If you're a fan of whiskey, be sure to book a tour around the famous Miyagikyo Distillery, which specialises in the Nikka whiskey and is set within beautiful gardens.
What not to miss
- Immerse yourself in local history by visiting the Sendai City Museum.
- Explore the glorious ruins of Sendai Castle and marvel at the gorgeous views.
- Go wild at the Aoba Festival in late May and watch the colourful paper floats trundle on by while citizens in samurai dress do "the Sparrow Dance".
- Bathe in the bubbles of an "onsen", a hot spring, like that of Sakan.
- Learn about traditional methods of arts & crafts at the Akiu Craft Park.
- Visit the Zuihoden Mausoleum, a building of ornate beauty, and feel at peace in the wooded park.
- Take a tour around the Miyagikyo Distillery, where they make the famous Nikka whiskey.
Sendai is the ideal place to go for a cultural exploration of Japan. scan through our selection of the best places to stay in Sendai to start planning your trip.
The best places to stay in Sendai
- Bansuitei Ikoiso: central, charming and traditional, this fabulous hotel offers classically-Japanese rooms complete with tatami mats, paper lanterns and futon beds. Eat sumptuous local cuisine at the restaurant or lounge lazily in the hot springs. Ideal for couples.
For an apartment or villa
- Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments in the nearby area.
- The winters are cold and dry, with temperatures reaching as low as -2 degrees; the summers are warm and wet, the temperatures reaching as high as 29 degrees.
- Take the hour-long bullet train from Tokyo or fly to Sendai Airport.
- If you want to rent a car, contact our partner Rentalcars.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Sendai
Bansuitei Ikoiso 18 rooms from £84Sendai
A charming boutique property boasting a central city location. Japanese style rooms feature tatami mats, futon beds, paper lanterns and shutters. Sample authentic Sendai cuisine in the atmospheric restaurant and unwind in the healing hot spring baths. An ideal base for city exploring.Local exploring - Ideally located to access the city's main sights.Local markets - Stroll through the bustling Asaichi market and get a slice of authentic Sendai life.Sights nearby - Visit the picturesque Sendai Castle ruins.Full of character