Thursday, June 06, 2013

Sending a message to Sendai

Hijinx amongst the day trip to Sendai. Yes, that's me!
I was lucky enough to have my sister visiting Japan. Just for a short week, basically staying only in Tokyo, but we managed to work out a meeting - in Sendai. This was great, because I had never been to Sendai before last weekend when I drove down to meet her.

Traffic was ok on the expressway - that's why you pay for it! But near the centre of Sendai it's another matter. Sendai is a big city and the capital of Miyagi prefecture. I had sensibly decided to meet my sister on the east exit of the station, which may actually be on the west side of the station, but is labelled east, and was the one I had known when I had transferred to the bus from the train earlier this year.
At least I knew where to find her, and after the struggle to get from one side of the station to the other by car, I picked her up and we drove back to the other side! HA!

Knowing what to do was a bit of a puzzle. So I had my old guidebook out and we headed to the City Museum, where there was free parking! There was also a school tennis tournament going on, and I tried to park in the car park for that initially but wasn't allowed. I am still amazed at the size of the events that sports day are here. Inter-school baseball gets on the TV!
Outside the museum.
The museum itself was actually a bit bleh. I might be permanently off museums I think. Lots of pots and rocks, my FAVOURITE (not). But some interesting paintings and art work about the Date family, who built a castle up on the rock above Sendai, lots of plans of Sendai hundreds of years ago too. Seems Matsumane Date was the main man in history, even if most explanations were in Japanese I could work that out. My sister later read in the book (something I should have done I guess :)) that most of Sendai was destroyed in the Second World War. It was also hit by the tsunami, but that part of the greater city was a little way away from the centre.

We went up the hill to the see the castle, just a fifteen minute uphill walk from the museum. The weather was splendid so it was a pretty good choice. Even from there we couldn't see the ocean, or much of a castle either. Now there are a few shops and restaurants, and soft serve place which hit the spot! The views were good however, if a little blocked by the occasional misty cloud.
The base of the castle, the only thing still 'castlely'

Following that, we parked at a carpark close to the station. We had to wait for cars to leave before the gate in this automated place let us in, parking is a serious issue in any big city in Japan. I guess it stems from being so populated over the years, but on street parking just doesn't exist here, at least not in the cities. There really isn't any here in Ichinoseki.
The falls.
Temple at the falls.

We grabbed some lunch and headed for some waterfalls about 20 km from Sendai, although I took the 'long way' and we drove about 35km to get there! Much faster on the way back. The roads were typically windy but the scenery beautiful. The 55-metre Akiu Otaki (falls) were lovely as it started to cool down. It looked like a perfect place to go hiking too, but time and my wife's shoes did not allow! Back to Sendai, my sister had a train to catch! A great day for a tired old teacher! :)

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