Sendai, not a place I originally would have thought of going while planning a trip to Japan. But there was a beautiful hike that I'd seen photos of on Pinterest and I'm always up for doing something that's outside of the typical (at least from my point of view) so that was our next stop.
We were able to fly back to Tokyo from Okinawa and from there jumped on the bullet train to Sendai. It was awesome to see more of the countryside and we were treated with a gorgeous sunset as we went. Sendai had perfect weather, slightly cooler as it is a few hours north of Tokyo, and clearer as well. It also had a much more laid back feel than Osaka or Tokyo which was quite nice.
In Sendai there were a few memorable things! First of all, we went to the Sendai Mediatheque which is famous for it's architecture. It was a beautiful building and at the time we were there, there was a photo exhibit going in which showcased before and after photos from the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. It was incredible and scary, and I'm grateful we got to learn more about something that affected that area so recently.
Another incredible (and a little scary, for me) thing was experiencing my first earthquake. (especially considering that recent history...) It was in the middle of the night and I woke up thinking Colin was shaking the bed, and then he woke up and we realized what was going on. It shook for about 5-10 seconds and the building continued to reverberate for about the same amount of time after. While it was relatively mild, it startled me a good amount, and for months after whenever Colin would roll over in bed I had this instant reaction that it was an earthquake.
Finally, two little but AWESOME things we tried in Sendai: playing the rad drum game shown in the video below. Obviously we were not skilled like this man but it was SO fun! I wish we had it here...
The second thing was Zunda Mochi! Mochi are sticky rice balls that they have everywhere in Japan, but in Sendai they put it in a sweet edamame paste, which I'm sure doesn't sound the most appealing but I really liked it!
From Sendai we took two day trips. One to Matsushima where we took a ferry tour around the bay. This bay is celebrated as one of the scenic views of Japan and a place that Bashō, the famous haiku poet, fondly wrote about. Around there we explored a little island and had our most difficult experience ordering food, as it was a smaller town and English wasn't as commonly spoken. It was such a relaxing day and nice to just enjoy quiet time to ourselves (so Canadian....)
The second day trip was to Yamadera, which literally means mountain temple. This was the beautiful hike that I had found on Pinterest and one of my most looked forward to experiences. The train ride through lush magical forests, with brief views of little rivers and villages, was worth it alone. From there we began the hike along side bunches of elderly Japanese couples wishing us ganbatte (good luck!) as we walked through the giant cedars. At the top were various ancient buildings of the Buddhist temple and incredible views of the town and hills below. I thought having seen it on Pinterest might have spoiled it for me, but it definitely did not. On our way out of the town, we went into a small shop where a man made kokeshi and we stopped for a bit to learn about his unique style of doll.
I am so glad we decided to make Sendai and surrounding area part of our trip!