Sendai has great events year-round, but the real thrill of the New Year is far and away the Sendai Hatsu-uri! Of the New Year sales held around the country, the Sendai Hatsu-uri is so significant that the government has even recognized it as a special event – it is the largest of its kind in the country.
On the early morning of January 2nd, snaking long lines form. What have these people come for? They want special fukubukuro* and fuku-bako, lucky bags and boxes which contain surprise products that exceed the sticker price of the bag or box, as well as premium coupons and other bonuses.
*Fukubukuro: These are special bags the contents of which are unknown, but they always contain products worth more than the sticker price of the bag. A real deal, they contain special sets of merchandise truly unique to the Japanese New Year!
The Sendai Hatsu-uri in Sendai is a historic event that has continued for over 200 years.
Enjoy a forest of light in the Sendai Pageant of Starlight
Jozenji-dori, a street that runs through the center of Sendai, is lined with zelkova trees. For the Pageant of Starlight, they are adorned with 600,000 LED bulbs and turned into a shimmering forest.
Of particular note is the “Starlight Wink” held from early December through the 31st at 6, 7, and 8 PM. For one minute, the lights wink off, then all surge on again in a dazzling spectacle. That instant is worth the wait and is simply amazing. When the lights come on, a cry of delight goes up from people in the street.
Amidst the 600,000 bulbs is one pink one. They say that if you find it, you’ll have good luck!
The Donto-sai Festival, a traditional New Year’s rite where you wish for safety and good health in the year ahead
Every year, on the night of January 14, the Donto-sai Festival is held. It is one of the signature sights of the season and is the way Sendai rings in the New Year.
People congregate at the Osaki Hachiman Shrine, where a sacred flame burns, and they burn old amulets and decorations and pray for a new year of health, safety for their family, and prosperity in business.
Let’s go meet Sendai Shiro, who brings good fortune!
Sendai Shiro was a real person from Sendai. Whenever he visited a shop, it was guaranteed to prosper in business. Whenever he hugged a child, the child grew up healthy and strong. Stories say that he was the talk of the town.From this legend comes the image of Sendai Shiro enshrined at Mitakisan Budoin Temple.
Sendai Japanese beef – one of Japan’s finest grades of beef, you must try it at least once!
A smooth texture, mellow flavor, and rich jous! Sendai beef is known for its exquisite balance of high quality fat and red meat, marbled together to produce a fine taste.
Only thirty percent of beef meets Sendai beef standards. Only the highest quality A5 and B5 beef earns this distinction.
Sushi made from the finest seafood and artisans’ culinary skills
Sendai faces the Pacific Ocean, and it is known as the site of plentiful and fresh bounties of the sea.
If you want to taste this fine seafood, sushi is the best choice!
The Sanriku coastline is one of the world’s three great fishing grounds, with a wide range of finest quality catch. In addition, Miyagi is also known as one of Japan’s best rice-producing regions. With these two ingredients, we are ready to make sushi! Miyagi’s sushi chefs are consummate experts in the local ingredients, and their experienced strokes of the blade create amazing culinary concoctions.
Sasa-kamaboko, or fish cakes shaped like bamboo leaves, are genuine soul food from Sendai!
Flounder fish is grated, pounded with the flat of the hand, then shaped into the form of bamboo leaves and grilled. The result is sasa-kamaboko, a Sendai specialty. Another dish to try is hyotan-age, fish cake with a breaded and deep fried coating. These are great snacks to munch on while you walk around and see the sights in town.
Sendai Miso Ramen, featuring traditional miso paste
If you’re looking for local ramen specialties, look no further than Sendai Miso ramen, made with the signature local Sendai miso paste! Sendai miso is one of Japan’s signature red misos.
Resorts beloved by Sendai residents as R&R destinations: Akiu Onsen and Sakunami Onsen
Sendai is home to two famous hot springs areas, the Akiu Onsen and Sakunami Onsen. Both are just thirty minutes by car from downtown Sendai. This unbeatable location is one of the reasons they are so popular.
Board a comfortable snow tractor and enjoy Zao’s snow-covered trees up close!
The signature sight of winter is the snow-covered trees in Zao. This is actually a form of crystalline hoar frost, and it is only seen in a few select regions. At Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park, this rare natural phenomenon can be seen while aboard special covered snow tractors equipped with heating. The frozen trees, called “ice monsters,” are simply stunning and beautiful in their form.
Why not make the most of this limited opportunity in winter and experience the natural beauty of the frozen trees up close? They can only be seen here!