Sendai Castle 仙台城
Founder Date Masamune
Year 1600
Type Mountaintop
Condition Other Buildings
Alternate Name Aoba-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Sendai, Miyagi Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Sendai Station (Tohoku main line), 15 minutes by bus
Website Sendai Castle
Visited September 12, 2003; May 22, 2010
Notes The otemon guardhouse in the picture above is a fair distance (10+ minute walk) from the honmaru and museum. Either find it on a map or ask for directions at the museum. I recommend taking the sightseeing bus to the main castle gate, visit the museum and grounds and then walk downhill towards this guardhouse. Then you can get back on the sightseeing bus from the nearby Sendai City Museum. The bus leaving the castle grounds tends to be very full and you may not get on easily from there.

Date Masamune received increased lands around Sendai for giving his support to Tokugawa in the Battle of Sekigahara. Sendai Castle never had a large main keep like many castles of this time period. There are various theories why and some proof that there were plans to build a large 5 story keep though it was never carried out. Even without a large main keep it was still an impressive castle with three 3 story yagura and a great honmaru palace. Date Tadamune added the Ninomaru after he became lord of Sendai.

After the Boshin War, the honmaru was torn down. During a fire in 1882 most of the ninomaru was burned to the ground and the remaining buildings of the castle were destroyed during the bombings of WWII.

Date Masamune is one of the most interesting figures of his time period. Known as the "One Eyed Dragon" (he lost the use of his right eye to smallpox), he was feared by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and later became a deputy Shogun in the Tokugawa regime. Masamune actively promoted culture and industry. He built the Osaki Hachiman Shrine in Sendai and the Zuiganji Temple in Matsushima. He oraganized improvements to the rivers, forests and transformed the Osaki plain into a fertile rice field. Masamune also built a ship and dispatched his own men including Hasekura Tsunenaga to the Pope in Rome. Masamune was one of the most intelligent daimyo of his time.

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  • ART    February 11, 2017 at 07:45 PM
    I heard that Sendai in the Edo Period was big on forest agriculture and many people had trees planted in their backyards.
  • furinkazan on My Page    May 15, 2015 at 08:23 PM
    I went to this site today. The works are apparently done, because i didn't saw any. I took the Loople Sendai bus with a 1-day pass. With the pass you have some reductions at some sites. I visited first the Zuihoden mauseleum. After that i went directly to the castle. The route of the loople bus changed a little bit, but it still has a stop at the honmaru, but at the foot of the ishigaki. There is indeed not a lot to see, appart from the statue of Date Masamune. The Aoba-castle museum was open, but there isn't a lot to see. The fee is normally 700¥, but with the pass it's 500¥. You may take photos, but without flash. Then i went to the Sendai City museum. This museum was more interesting i found, with a lot of english explanations. Then i walked to the Waki-yagura. I realised that i missed the last loople bus and went to a city busstop. When the bus arrived, it was full. I walked to the station. It's about 3 km from the castle-site. My hotel is in the vicinity of the station.
  • Eric    January 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM
    Kei, Thanks for visiting and sharing the information. It's great to see progress is underway with a completion in sight!
  • Kei    January 24, 2014 at 07:31 PM
    It's my first visit of this site. I was born in Sendai-city and like Sendai castle/ So I would write about reconstruction of this castle. Because of extremely big earthquake,the walls broke down.Now reconstruct this wall By the end of March 2015. For more information, please take a look at the following sites.
  • Kate Ono    September 11, 2013 at 03:27 PM
    I visited Sendai in October 2012. At that time I've been told by guides that they are planing to reconstruct the pavilions of Masamune on the castle hill, because they still have some of the original features stored ( I think in museum). One thing that I really liked, but I think many foreigners will miss on, were the guides. They were 'in-character', dressed up as Masamune's vassals, giving the description of the castle and they spoke about their lord as if he's still alive! If it wasn't for my japanese husband translating (the guides also tried to help using some English) I think I would miss out a great fun! I wish they would do such tours in English...
  • rebolforces    March 27, 2013 at 09:03 PM
    Visited today. Followed in the instructions on leaving via City Museum. Good advice. Lots of road works on the way up. One section of wall still under tarpaulins and in repair. But all walls where the Castle Museum sits are intact and impressively curved.
  • Frank T. on My Page    October 03, 2011 at 10:44 PM
    The view of the town is great, and I enjoyed riding around the area, but there's really not much to see of the original site aside from walls, large as they may be. If you're going to Sendai, by all means visit this site. Otherwise, there are other places more worthwhile.
  • Eric    April 26, 2011 at 11:03 PM
    I have a few notes on the following page about reconstruction efforts that I know of. If anyone has something to add please let me know. The regulations about rebuilding historical sites are much more strict than in the past so there will probably be fewer reconstructions now, but they will be of better quality.
  • john    April 20, 2011 at 10:36 AM
    one question-are there any plans to rebuild the keeps on any of the sites where only the yagura and other buildings survived [i'd put a question mark, but there seems to be something wrong with my keyboard] Anyway, if you have any info on the possible reconstructions of keep-less castles, could you write them down here
  • Learoy on My Page    April 06, 2011 at 01:18 PM
    Visited this castle at night and there is basically just ruins there and a museum, which of course was not open. There is a great view of the city and also a great statue of Date Masamune
  • Eric    February 09, 2011 at 11:06 PM
    Thanks it's fixed. Links to external sites are so hard to keep updated.
  • Kris    February 04, 2011 at 10:35 PM
    BTW, link comes up 404. Not Found The requested URL /kankokoryu/pointnojoho/point7.html was not found on this server. Try for info in English.
  • Kris on My Page    January 21, 2011 at 10:30 PM
    A person I knew from Sendai told me I wouldn't see any snow in March; my train pulled into the station as snowflakes started falling and although it was only a small snowfall I had the joy of being able to show photos of the stone walls of Aoba-jo harboring patches of snow in their shadows. The statue of Date Masamune was quite hard to photograph in the afternoon sun but there were great views and I was happy to finally see it with my own eyes. (I used to sing 'Aoba-jo koiuta' at karaoke just to see that statue). If you are in the area you should also see brightly-painted Zuihoden, Date's Mausoleum, on the adjacent hillside. I also went to Matsushima and Zuiganji, the museum has many items belong to the Date clan. I didn't have so much time because I was using 18-kippu; I'm planning on going there again with my brother. I went a while ago so it should be interesting to see how it has changed seeing as Masamune is more popular and marketable than ever.
  • Usagi on My Page    January 08, 2011 at 08:24 PM
    If you are driving through Sendai, it is worth a quick stop. Small castle.
  • alicemacgee on My Page    November 07, 2010 at 05:53 PM
    The view from the castle grounds is simply magnificent! I wish the castle could be reconstructed as it was originally built one day, though it would be a really tough task to do. But I'm glad they didn't carry out their initial plan of "reconstructing" the yagura that has never been there in the first place. Kudos to all the people who struggled against that plan and to the people who did the fine job on excavations and restoration of the castle walls.
  • Augustus    June 24, 2010 at 01:39 PM
    I visited Sendai Castle and Odawara Castle this April. I found the Odawara Castle is far more attractive both in building and museum collections.(Sendai Museum closed during my visit, thus I can't give any comment.) In addition, some Date family related sites in Sendai city and nearby area are worth visit.
  • Eric on Tohoku Castle Trip 2010    June 21, 2010 at 08:01 PM
    A famous Edo Period castle with a huge stone wall
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Sendai, Miyagi Pref.
Sendai Castle views
yagura next to otemon gate otemon model
stone wall of honmaru model of tsumemon gate
honmaru stone walls honmaru stone walls
stone walls statue of Date Masamune
view form the honmaru map