Sendai City, situated in the center of Miyagi Prefecture, is the largest city in the Tohoku region. It has prospered as the capital of the Dates’ fief since Date Masamune reigned over this district and built Aoba Castle at the beginning of the 17th century. Explore the site of Sendai Castle ( or Aoba Castle) or rest and relax in the neighborhood of Mt. Aoba-yama, which has been transformed into a gracious public park.
Sendai is known as “The City of Trees.” The main streets, Aoba-dori and Jozenji-dori, are lined with rows of beautiful zelkova trees, The Christmas illumination, the “Sendai Pageant of Starlight” is spectacular, not to mention the beauty of fresh verdure in spring and the scarlet-tinged leaves in autumn. Ichiban-cho-dori Street, which crosses Chuo-dori Street and runs parallel to Aoba-dori Street, is a shopping area. A local market, with many smaller stores lining the side streets, make for a delightful shopping excursion. After shopping, relax and dine at your choice of 3,000 fancy restaurants, all clustered around Kokubun-cho, located on the west side of Ichiban-cho-dori Street.
The Tanabata-matsuri Festival, held every summer in Sendai, is considered one of the four greatest festivals in the Tohoku region. It is one of the most popular attractions, drawing crowds of over 2 million spectators every year. Gorgeous decorations made with bamboo and Japanese paper called sasatake are put up in the arcades in front of Sendai Station and in all other parts of the city, in what appears to be a contest for beauty. The festival is based on the Chinese seventh of July legend: The ‘Kengyu’ (a cowherd) represented by the star Altair, and the ‘Orihime’ (a weaver) represented by the star Vega, appear on either side of the Milky Way and cross the bridge of magpie’s wings over the Milky Way for their one-time rendezvous a year.
Sendai is located at lat. 38°16’05” north, long. 140°52’11” east. The city’s area is 788.09 km², and stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Ōu Mountains, which are the east and west borders of Miyagi Prefecture. As a result, the city’s geography is quite diverse. Eastern Sendai is a plains area, the center of the city is hilly, and western areas are mountainous. The highest point in the city is Mt. Funagata which stands 1,500 metres (4,921 feet) above sea level.
The Hirose River flows 45 kilometres (28 miles) through Sendai. The river is well known as a symbol of Sendai, especially because it appears in the lyrics of Aoba-jō Koi-uta (青葉城恋唄; literally, The Aoba Castle Love Song), a popular song sung by Muneyuki Satō. Sendai Castle was built close to the river to use the river as a natural moat. The river frequently flooded until the 1950s, but dams and levees constructed in the 1960s and 1970s have made such floods rare. The river is now known for its exceptionally clean water and natural beauty, and was selected by Japan’s Environment Agency as one of Japan’s 100 Great Waters.
Most mountains in Sendai are dormant volcanoes, much older than the more famous Zaō and Naruko volcanoes in nearby municipalities. However, many hot springs can be found in the city, indicating hydrothermal activity. The Miyagi Oki earthquake occurs offshore Sendai once every 25 to 40 years. The 7.2 magnitude 2005 Miyagi earthquake, which occurred on August 16, 2005 had an epicenter close to the Miyagi Oki earthquake area. However, the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion concluded that it was not the Miyagi Oki earthquake, saying “…the recent event is not thought to be this earthquake. This is because the magnitude of the earthquake was small, and the source area, which was estimated from the aftershock distribution and seismic waves, did not cover the whole expected source region. Although, the recent event ruptured a part of the focal region of the expected earthquake.” In 2011, the 9.0 magnitude 2011 Tōhoku earthquake occurred offshore Sendai, resulting in a devastating tsunami.