On our way to Yamadera, we spent a day in Sendai – the largest city in Japan’s Tohoku Region, northeast of Tokyo.
Because we only had one full day to explore the city, we decided to use the Loople Sendai bus to take advantage of the main tourist attractions throughout the city.
About the Loople Sendai:
Loople Sendai is a bus system specifically geared towards tourists. The Loople route makes a complete route through all major tourist destinations/spots in Sendai, and is an incredibly efficient and convenient way to work your way through the city.
The Loople buses run every 20 minutes between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday – Friday, and every 15 minutes on Saturdays, Sundays, and National Holidays.
Our Loople Sendai Route:
There are 15 different stops along the Loople Sendai route, but I’ll be writing primarily about the ones that we stopped at.
1. Zuihoden Mausoleum
Zuihoden is the resting place of Date Masamune, a powerful feudal lord during the Edo Period.
To get to the main mausoleum, you first walk up a long set of stairs in between a row of thick trees; it was a cold and rainy day, but walking through these trees was somehow still enjoyable.
At the top, you buy an entrance ticket at the booth, and then you are free to explore.
Even though it was rainy, there were still a lot of other people admiring the intricate details of the mausoleum. From here, we walked through the grounds, and saw the Children’s Cemetery, and other smaller monuments.
|¥550 (¥100 discount for Loople day pass holders)||9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.||December 31st & January 1st|
Is it worth the stop?: Most definitely. Even in the rain, it was a beautiful place to explore, and a peaceful escape from the busyness of the city.
2. Sendai Castle (Aoba Castle)
Built in 1600 by Date Masamune, Aoba Castle endured the anti-feudal feelings of the Meiji Period, a fire in 1882, and the carpet bombing of 1945.
Currently all that is left of Aoba Castle are just remains – a few outer stone walls, and a watch tower. There is also a statue of Masamune that looks down to the city below.
Along with the lookout and castle ruins, there is a castle museum, Gokoku Shrine, and is a short walk away from both the Sendai City Museum and the Sendai Yagiyama Zoo.
Aoba Castle Museum:
|¥700 (¥500 with the online coupon)||9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.||No closing Days|
Sendai City Museum:
|¥400||9:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.||Closed on Mondays & from Dec. 28 – Jan. 4|
Sendai Yagiyama Zoo:
|¥400||9:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.||Closed on Mondays|
Is it worth the stop?: Yes! This was a cool spot to walk around, and the view of the city below was pretty impressive even in the fog. We didn’t visit the museums or the zoo, but heard good things about all of them.
3. Osaki Hachimangu Shrine:
This shrine was constructed in 1607 under the orders of none other than Date Masamune. Osaki Hachimangu’s deity, Hachiman, is a Shinto god of war, and is said to help protect and guard Sendai.
The shrine has been restored, but has still maintained the original Date architectural style. The main hall and offering hall is adorned with gold leaf, and is covered in black lacquer.
To get to the main hall, you first walk up a series of steps that lead to the traditional torii gate, and then follow a long walkway to the shrine.
|FREE||Open all hours||None!|
Is it worth the stop?: IMHO, nope. It seems like every time we try and visit well-known shrines here in Japan, there is always some sort of renovation going on, and there is always scaffolding. This shrine was no different. As one Tripadvisor so perfectly wrote, there are “lots of steps up to an average shrine.” Even without the scaffolding and roped off areas, it didn’t stand out compared to other shrines like Meiji Shrine or Sensoji.
Riding the Loople:
If you’re interested in riding the Loople, we would recommend getting the One-Day Loople Pass, however, there is also a single-ride option.
Adult (12 years+)
|Single Ride||1 Day Pass|
|Single Ride||1 Day Pass|
Overall, the Loople Sendai Bus was the perfect way for us to see the city. It was a really rainy day, and helped us stay dry even though the buses were pretty crammed. In true Japan fashion, the buses were perfectly on time, and we never had to wait longer than a few minutes at each stop.
We visited Sendai again in November 2017, and took the Loople Bus to a few different sites we mentioned here. Check out our vlog to see more!