This city up north is no stranger to natural beauty. Nicknamed as the City of Trees, Sendai is an urban center that boasts of numerous tree-lined avenues, shrines, and parks. Come spring time, like the rest of Japan, it awaits that brief time period when pink cherry blossoms (sakura) take over the scenery. A tip: Sakura in this part of the country blooms a little later (around early April ‘til the end of the month) than the ones in popular places down south like Tokyo and Kyoto, which usually starts from end of March to early April. Thus, if you happen to chance upon this window while visiting Sendai, here’s a list of the 10 best spots to enjoy sakura viewing:
Nishi Park is the oldest park in Sendai. Since the Meiji Period, it has also been called Sakuragaoka Park for its beautiful cherry blossoms – a mix of predominantly Somei Yoshino cherry trees and Shidarezakura. Today, it remains as one of Sendai’s most popular spots for hanami or cherry blossoms viewing, where during the season, the park grounds are lined with Yatai food stalls and night lanterns, so that park goers can enjoy the flowers longer.
Address: 1-3 Sakuragaokakoen, Aoba-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
Website: http://www.sendai-ohanami.com/ (Japanese only)
Tsutsujigaoka Park is another hanami spot located in Central Sendai. There are over 360 cherry blossom trees planted here, which include several varieties like the Somei Yoshino cherry, Higan cherry, Ukon sakura, and the double-flowered cherry trees. Same as in Nishi Park, sakura viewing in this area is accompanied by food stall set-up and night illuminations. If you want to experience sakura the local way, bring your own mat and your stash of favorite drinks when you visit.
Address: 1 Chome Gorin, Miyagino-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
If you like wide open spaces, then Mikamine Park is the spot for you. This park south of the city center but easily accessible by public transportation is sure worth the trip for its abundant cherry trees – around 600+ sakura of different varieties, and its overlooking views of downtown Sendai. There are no food stalls here but visitors are allowed to bring their own picnic essentials. This place is best for families and those who prefer sakura viewing in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Address: 1-Chome Mikamine, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
Aobayama Park is one of Sendai’s top tourist attractions. It is the site of the city’s castle ruins, the famous Date Masamune statue, Gokoku shrine, and other historical places of interest. As far as cherry blossom trees are concerned, there are hundreds of it scattered around the area. When the flowers are in full bloom, this historical site is filled with even more romantic nostalgia as the pink hues provide a nice contrast to the grays of the castle town.
Address: 1 Kawauchi, Aoba-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
For a more low-key spot, there’s Chomeidate Park. It is located in a quiet neighborhood and most of its visitors are the residents themselves. Its grounds are suitable for picnics and during sakura season, there’s enough cherry blossom trees to form pink canopies. There is also a viewing platform from which you can enjoy Sendai’s cityscapes and even the Pacific Ocean.
Address: 2-Chome Kamo, Izumi-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
Aside from nature, Katsuyama Park has history to boot. It is the third oldest park in Sendai and was once owned by the Isawa family – the merchants behind Katsuyama Brewery, a leading sake brand in Japan. The garden was part of a larger family estate which included a pavilion where the family used to entertain their prominent guests – from Sendai’s high society to family members of the Imperial Family. Today, Katsuyama Pavilion is now the dining and special events place called Sendai Shozankan. When you visit Katsuyama Park for sakura viewing, you might also want to drop by, or better yet, book a meal here.
Address: 2 Chome- 338-1 Kamisugi, Aoba-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
Website: https://www.shozankan.com/ (Japanese only)
Tenshukaku Shizen Park
Tenshukaku Shizen Park is a destination that combines the beauty of outdoors with relaxation and healing facilities. It is an expansive property that houses a hot springs resort, Japanese gardens, forest grounds, auto camping sites, and several establishments like restaurants and cafés. There’s plenty of nature to enjoy all year round, but of course, spring is extra special because bursts of bright pink blooms pop among the dominating green.
Address: Genbeehara-5-1 Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
Price: ¥400 (Junior High School Students and older), ¥100 (Children from age 4)
Website: http://akiu-sizen.co.jp/ (Japanese only)
Miyagi Kenminnomori is another park that showcases Sendai’s great outdoors. It’s a nature reserve designed for nature observation, recreation, and outdoor learning. Hence, aside from its greenery, the park also has exhibition facilities, promenades, playgrounds, and learning centers. You can partner your sakura viewing with activities or workshops that will coincide with your visit.
Address: Suganosawa-41 Kamiyasawa Rifu-cho, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi-ken
Price: Free (use of facilities charged separately)
Website: http://mifi.main.jp/kenminmori.htm (Japanese only)
Shiroishigawa Zutsumi Hitome Senbon Sakura
If you’re willing to travel a bit farther, there are several sakura viewing spots outside Sendai that are just less than an hour by train. Particularly noteworthy is Shiroishigawa in Shibata – a riverside cherry blossoms spot boasting of an 8-kilometer stretch of pink flower cover. It is considered as Miyagi Prefecture’s top place for hanami parties. Choose between settling on a spot under the shade of a flower ceiling or ride a hanami boat to view sakura against the backdrop of the Zao Mountain Range.
Address: Oya, Ogawara, Shibata-gun, Miyagi Prefecture
Website: http://oogawara.com/sakura.html (Japanese only)
Shiogama Shrine is located in a port town roughly about 30 minutes by train from Sendai. It is a Shinto shrine complex that dates back to the 9th century with numerous buildings designated as Important Cultural Properties. Its grounds, on the other hand, are made more picturesque by nearly 300 cherry blossom trees of around 30 different varieties. This includes the Shiogama-zakura, a legendary tree unique to the shrine.
Address: Ichimoriyama 1-1, Shiogama-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
Website: http://www.shiogamajinja.jp/ (Japanese only)
All price information in this article is as of May 2017.
Thumbnail image from Wikimedia Commons.