The largest city in the Tohoku region, Sendai is located in Miyagi Prefecture. Among the prefecture's abundance of natural scenic beauty are Matsushima—one of the Three Views of Japan—and Zao with its majestic views.
Blessed with mountains and the sea, Miyagi is a treasure trove of fresh ingredients. Some of the favorites are beef tongue from Sendai, shark fin from Kesennuma and oysters from Matsushima. Such delicious foods combined with famed hot springs such as those found at Naruko-onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village make Miyagi a popular tourist destination.
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Although Sendai is a major metropolis, this "City of Trees" retains a close connection to the environment highlighted by the Hirose River flowing through the city center. A stroll along Jozenji-dori Avenue is the ideal way to see for yourself why Sendai got its nickname. Bronze statues by Emilio Greco are interspersed among the lush Zelkova trees that line the street lending the atmosphere of an open air gallery. Mid-September visitors can relax to the smooth tunes of the yearly Jozenji-dori Avenue Jazz Festival, while the magnificently illuminated Zelkova trees of the Sendai Pageant of Starlight await you in December.
(5 minutes on foot from Kotodai Koen Station, accessible by subway from Sendai Station.)
Over its history of more than four centuries, Tohgatta hot spring of Zao-machi flourished as the quintessential health resort in Miyagi Prefecture for people visiting Zao's statue depicting an incarnation of Buddha. The communal baths Kami no Yu and Kotobuki no Yu are considered symbols of Tohgatta hot spring, and are said to bring good luck to bathers. The hot spring town has more than 40 resort-style inns and other accommodations that are filled with guests.
(From JR Shiroishi-Zao or Shiroishi Station, it takes between 39 and 47 minutes on the Miyakoh Bus bound for Tohgatta hot spring. Get off at the Tohgatta Yunomachi bus stop.)
The base of Mount Kurikoma is the center of tourism in northern Miyagi Prefecture. Around early summer, the wetlands are great for walking to see the daylilies and green bushes, and in autumn, the fall colors are beautiful to gaze at. Popular activities include mountain climbing, camping and river fun in the valley. Also, enjoy the hot springs at Kurikoma Kogen Onsenkyo and Hanayama Onsenkyo.
(From Kurikoma Kogen Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, go on foot or by car.)
Ishinomaki is a city where the manga (comic book) artist Shotaro Ishinomori spent a great deal of time. He is representative of Japan's manga artists and is known for such works as "Kamen Rider."
The main street extending roughly a kilometer from outside Ishinomaki Station to Ishinomori Manga Museum in Nakaze Park is called Manga Road. Statues of manga characters line the road, making for a delightful trip.
(The area around JR Ishinomaki Station)
The fish market in Minamisanriku, closed due to the 2011 tsunami, has reopened, and Minamisanriku Kirakira Don, a rice bowl with octopus and sea urchin from southern Sanriku is once again available. Enjoy the fresh seafood of southern Sanriku, such as harutsuge don with octopus and silver salmon in spring, uni don in summer, akiuma don with returning bonito and fresh eel in autumn, and ikura (salmon egg) don in winter.
To properly discuss Sendai's cuisine one must first mention beef tongue, recognized all over Japan as Sendai's traditional dish. You can dine at one of the nearly 100 beef tongue restaurants located within the city, complimenting charcoal grilled tongue with oxtail soup and mugi gohan, steamed white rice with barley. It's said that the more you chew the better it tastes so don't pass up this Sendai specialty.
(Sendai Station. All over the city.)