Check out the Sendai Castle Ruins
The Sendai Castle Ruins were the inspiration for a famous Japanese poem called ‘The moon over the desolate castle’ and this tells you all you need to know about their condition now. The ruins also do include a model of the original gate to give you a feel of how Sendai Castle would have looked in the days of old.
There is also a small museum here that takes you through the history of the castle although do not expect anything too grand as Sendai is not one of the cities in Japan that is best known for a complete or particularly impressive castle.
Learn about Date Masamune at the Zuihōden Mausoleum
You will inevitably hear the name “Date Masamune” if you stick around long enough. He is the mighty Edo period warlord who founded Sendai. You can visit his extravagant tomb at Zuihōden Mausoleum. The ancient buildings have ornate and colorful designs that are super photogenic.
Relax in an onsen
Japan is well known for its hot springs and the onsen (public baths) that surround them. The 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.
Take in the views at SS 30 Observation Lounge
If you want to get the best views in Sendai then you need to head to SS 30 Observation Lounge. This building is actually an office block so there is not much to check out here except for two observation decks on the 29th and 30th floors.
These are free to visit and give you panoramic vistas across all of Sendai so try to come in the morning or the late afternoon when you will get the best photo opportunities from the decks.
Sendai's most famous dish is gyutan, grilled beef tongue. With over 100 restaurants selling this juicy delicacy, it is probably more famous than even Date Masamune! If you are not a meat fan, Sendai is also famous for its cold chinese noodles, miso, sake, traditional sweets, oysters and sushi from nearby towns, zunda mochi (crushed soy bean rice cakes) and more. Also, try the Asaichi Street Market for fresh flavors.
Explore temples and shrines
There are temples and shrines scattered around the city. Find groups of temples behind Sendai Station along "Shindera" (New Temple) Street, as well as in Kitayama, a few minute walk from Kitasendai subway or JR station. There is even a 33 Kannon pilgrimage and a 7 Lucky Gods Pilgrimage here. The most famous shrine in the city is Osaki Hachimangu. The most famous temple is Rinno-ji Temple.
Tanabata is one of the most important festivals that takes place in Sendai and begins on August 5 every year when there is an impressive firework display.
The festival then continues from August 6 to August 8 and the whole of Sendai is decorated with opulent decorations which are called kusudama and consist of paper balls adored with decorative flowers. If you are in town then make sure not to miss this celebration which is an ode to two stars called Vega and Altair although this is also mostly used a reason to party rather than focusing too closely on the actual legend.