Article by Monocle Magazine –
Combining nature, architecture, historical sites and traditional craft, Sendai is an unsung destination barely 90 minutes by Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo. Having sampled the best of the Japanese capital, venture north and discover the “City of Trees” – a highlight of the Tohoku region.
Tokyo: Japan’s incomparable capital
For a different insight into downtown Tokyo, stroll through the streets of historic Nihombashi. The commercial district is home to longstanding businesses, traditional restaurants and important cultural properties, including the Bank of Japan’s headquarters and Nihombashi Mitsukoshi, which was Japan’s first department store. On the other side of the city, relax in the grounds of Meiji Shrine before a visit to Nezu Museum in Minami Aoyama. Redesigned by architect Kengo Kuma in 2009, it showcases pre-modern Japanese and east Asian art from the collection of Nezu Kaichiro Sr.
Sendai: architecture and craftsmanship
Sendai dates back to the arrival of the feudal lord Date Masamune in 1600. Date’s final resting place, Zuihoden, provides a glimpse into the city’s rich history. Perched atop a hill by the Hirose River, the mausoleum is renowned for its colourful architecture. Discover some historical items in the museum, such as swords and armour found in the tomb. Sendai Mediatheque is another highlight, with breathtaking glass façades. Designed by Pritzker prize-winner Toyo Ito, the public institution supports cultural and media-related activities. To the west of Sendai, the old onsen (hot spring) town of Akiu is home to Akiu Craft Park, where makers can be seen creating textiles, kokeshi dolls and other traditional crafts. Finally, take a tour of the Nikka Whisky Sendai Factory and try a local malt.