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).

Read More


Trip Finder
Travel Phrases

Learn Japanese Phrases before or while you're on the go!

Download Now

No Thanks

Love To Travel?

Get FREE email communications from Fodor's Travel, covering must-see travel destinations, expert trip planning advice, and travel inspiration to fuel your passion.

Thank You

Now sit back, relax, and check your inbox to start planning your next travel adventure.

Please tell us more about the type of travel you're interested in. Check all that apply.