"Welcome to Sendai!"
Sendai-themed bottles of "the real thing" ;b
Panoramic view of the "city of trees"
The first day of my recent Japan trip involved a lot of travelling. In the first hour of the 24 hour cycle (that is, at 12.50am), the plane I was on took off from Hong Kong International Airport. Some five hours later, I was at Narita International Airport -- which actually is located in Chiba prefecture (the home prefecture of my favorite Pear (fairy)) -- from where I boarded a train that took me a little more than an hour later to Tokyo Station, where I caught the shinkansen for a one and a half ride up north to the "city of trees" that Sendai likes to be known as.
Despite all that travelling, I still was in the largest city in Tohoku before lunchtime that day. Unable to check into my hotel (whose check in time is 2pm), I deposited the larger of my bags there and then, with backpack on my...er...back, took a local bus from Sendai train station (which my hotel was within walking distance of) up to Mount Aoba, from where I knew I'd be able to get scenic views of the city that would be my base while I was in the region.
Before going and drinking in the scenic views though, I decided to first get an iconic Sendai drink: no, not Coke from a Sendai-themed bottle but a Zunda Shake. I know that the idea of a milk shake made with ground edamame paste may not sound great but trust me when I say that it really is delicious (and that I ended up having it more than once in my all too short time in Sendai)! Similarly, soba (buckwheat noodles) with mountain vegetables may sound better than you than outright tasty but a hot bowl of it was just what I wanted -- and probably also needed -- for lunch before going and doing some actual sightseeing that day!
After quenching my thirst and filling my stomach, I finally was ready to head over to check out the views of Sendai that are to be had from this 100-meter-high hill atop which also can be found what's left of -- not much, really! -- Aoba Castle and other sights, including what turned out to be a sakura tree that was still in bloom despite the sakura season officially being over some weeks ago! If nothing else, they confirmed that Sendai's designation as the "city of trees" is well earned -- as well as it being a truly beautiful spring day, of the sort that Hong Kong saw way fewer of this year than I liked for it to be the case.
More than incidentally, before this recent Japan trip, one of the chief images that came to mind when I heard the name "Sendai" was of the news footage of Sendai Airport being engulfed by the tsunami that swept into Tohoku on March 11th, 2011. I am really happy that I now have much cheerier and better associations with this city that I actually would like to visit again, and add to my already many positive memories of it.