Friday, September 3, 2010

Sendai: A Loople's-Eye View of Japan's City of Trees

Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, is a quaint city north of Tokyo and is known as the "City of Trees" for the abundance of zelkovas lining its streets. Home of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, it's also the first stop on our five-city tour of Japanese baseball.

After our 90-minute bullet train ride from Tokyo, the group had a few hours to kill before the Seibu Lions/Rakuten Golden Eagles game. The best way to see the sights and learn a little about this feudal town: The Loople. The Loople Sendai bus runs from the train station and runs in a big circle through the town, stopping at significant attractions along the way. A day pass for 600 yen (slightly more than $7) allows tourists to hop on and off the bus at their leisure. Marc and I chose to explore the site of Sendai Castle and the Osaki Hachimangu Shrine.

Starting point of the Loople at Sendai train station

The Loople

One thing that becomes evident on the Loople is the importance of Date Masamune to the city of Sendai. Date (pronounced dah-tay) Masamune was a samurai and daimyo (territorial lord) of the Tohoku region where Sendai is located. Practically everywhere you look there are stores named after him and cute characters, namely onigiri (rice balls) bearing his name and likeness. I suppose that's what happens when you're the founder of a city.

A statue of Date Masamune stands at the ruins of Sendai Castle, which he built in 1600.

Date Masamune
Playing Date

Posing with Date Masamune
Taking pictures of Date Masamune
Enjoying the Sendai Castle grounds
Cedar trees at the site of Sendai Castle
A view of Sendai from the castle ruins
Bodhisattva in the distance from Sendai Castle

On the grounds of Sendai Castle
Fortune tied to a tree at Sendai Castle

Osaki Hachimangu Shrine is a beautifully detailed work of architecture built by order of Date Masamune.

Lanterns at the entrance of Osaki Hachimangu Shrine
Torii at Osaki Hachimangu Shrine
Osaki Hachimangu Shrine

Changing the ropes at Osaki Hachimangu Shrine

We laughed at the proclamation on the Loople's website that states the Loople is "for people who want to freely and rapidly tour city center sights while enjoying the atmosphere of the bus." Who actually enjoys the atmosphere of a bus? After touring the town in air conditioned comfort, we did.

Inside the Loople
Paneled ceiling of the Loople

Comfy seats on the Loople

1 comment:

Dan said...

Looks like lots of fun. I really should have explored Sendai a little better when I was there.