Sendai: Down But Not Out

3D map of Sendai City

On (mostly) a whim, I decided to spend more money than I probably should’ve to grab a shinkansen up to Sendai this weekend with Kris, Joey and her siblings. Thanks to a lucky turn of events, I didn’t have school on Friday. So, bright and early, I was off.

Once Kris and I arrived in Sendai, we essentially grabbed some maps of the area and began walking. This is my favorite style of travel. I call it “that-way-looks-good” style. Our feet carried us all over Sendai, most notably down the two famous tree-lined roads, to the castle ruins, and the mausoleum.

Sadly, Joey and her siblings had to go elsewhere, so I was stuck with Kris the whole weekend. Despite the terrible company, it was pretty fun! (I’m just trying to annoy Kris, now)

On Saturday we managed to find a small, but interesting Tanabata festival in the city center. There were many kinds of vendors selling vegetables, meat, and Tanabata goods. I couldn’t resist a matcha (green tea) carmel custard. The festival also had an array of presentations such as Taiko and …. meat exhibitions. You know how it is.

Also, if you visit Sendai, please check out SS 30. It’s a building with a free observation deck 30 stories above Sendai. Who can say no to that.

The famous Jozenji-dori

To give you some background: Sendai has a long history of… destruction. Through wars and natural disasters, over the years, Sendai has gone through many changes. That said, it has a very unique look. It’s an interesting mix of old and new style buildings with impressive structures from many eras. It’s also an extremely green city, unlike Tokyo, which usually has me forgetting what the color “green” even looks like.

There were, of course, signs of the destruction, which is something Kris and I pointedly sought out on our second day. Actually, the city has recovered remarkably well. There are cracks in the roads, and on some houses, you can still see the water line from the tsunami. However, despite everything, Sendai has been quite resilient. All around town, there are banners and signs saying things like “stand together” and “rise again.” In fact, we had to actively look for signs of the disaster, it’s virtually all restored. Honestly, it was really uplifting to see so much resilience.

Messages from around Japan

When we were walking around, Kris pointed out that many of the people around us were probably directly involved in the disaster, and many may have been in the stories shared around the world about finding and loosing loved ones. You’d never know it by the looks of them.

That’s the thing about this culture. They really care about helping one another, and try their best to stay genki (meaning: healthy, happy, spirited). It’s both the recovery efforts and the attitude of the people that has helped Sendai recover so rapidly.

To any one considering a trip up there, don’t let the recent disaster deter you. It’s an amazing city with a lot to offer. They might be down, but they definitely aren’t out. Trust me.

4 thoughts on “Sendai: Down But Not Out

  1. Thank you for updating the situation of Sendai area. Sendai is called “mori-no-miyako” (杜の都) which means “City of Trees”. I still feel bad that I was unable to help people there directly when the earthquake and tsunami happend last year, though. I wonder if you noticed “Tohoku-ben” (Tohoku dialect, ben means dialect) when you were there. When you visit Kyoto, Kagoshima, etc., probably you hear Kyoto-ben, Kagoshima-ben or other local dialects specific to the areas, which are different from the standard Japanese. Enjoy!

    • No problem! I did notice the dialect there, and right now Im in Kyoto and I especially notice it! Its really interesting to hear where some of the Kanto-ben comes from, too. Thank you!

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