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Sendai is Tohoku's largest city, and its 1.3 million residents enjoy the big-city amenities coupled with the easygoing vibe of a small town. Devastated by World War II, Sendai has since become a thoroughly modern and well-planned city, with wide boulevards and a surprising amount and variety of greenery. It's the economic and educational capital of the region, hosting a broad range of industries
and institutions, such as prestigious Tohoku University. In recent decades the city has become a magnet for international students, teachers, and workers, and this has helped foster Sendai's energetic and affable atmosphere.
The city's origins can largely be traced to the story of the "one-eyed dragon," local warlord Masamune Date (1567–1636). Affectionately nicknamed for both his one working eye (he was blinded in the other during a childhood bout with smallpox) and his valor in battle, Date established a dynasty in Sendai that maintained its position as one of the three most powerful daimyo (feudal lord) families during the shogun eras (his crescent-moon helmet is still found in popular samurai-battle imagery). In later life, his talents expanded: he engineered a canal linking two rivers, improving the transport of rice; and in an effort to further trade with Europe, he dispatched an emissary to Rome and the Vatican. He remained to his death a closet patron of Christianity, and encouraged Japanese exploration of the outside world (even after both were formally outlawed by the Tokugawa Shogunate).
In the scenic, faraway realm of Akita, the peaks of the Dewa Sanchi (Dewa Range), marked by Mt. Taihei, march off to the east, and the Sea of...
Aomori's main event is its Nebuta Matsuri Festival,held August 2 to 7. People come to see illuminated floats of gigantic samurai figures paraded...