Sendai: A City Founded by a Legendary Samurai *RERUN
Sendai, on the Japanese island of Honshu, is the largest city in the Tohoku region, northeastern Japan. It was founded in 1601 by Date Masamune, a samurai whose name is known to all Japanese. The city was created in a sparsely populated area through the visionary town planning of Masamune. Local crafts from Sendai are also influenced by the culture of the Date clan. The legacy of Date Masamune still lives on in the modern city of Sendai. We look back over this 400-year story.

Sendai's Beginnings

The city of Sendai was built on an area of high ground carved out by the Hirose River. The area was previously a sparsely populated plain. Masamune spent two decades planning and building what would become one of Japan's largest castle towns. He demanded his retainers be self-sufficient, encouraging them to plant food-producing trees in the grounds of their manor houses. Many of the trees planted by Masamune's retainers still stand tall in the city today. Before long, people started referring to Sendai as the "City of Trees."

Date Masamune, a Hero of Sendai

The annual Sendai Aoba Festival is held in May. Playing a key role at the festival is Yasumune Date, an 18th generation descendent of the Date clan. Masamune, a unique individual, remains popular today. He wore jet-black armor and a crescent moon on his helmet. He was known as a well-dressed, flamboyant leader. Masamune demanded his retainers polish both their artistic knowledge and military skills. He was and is a hero to local people.

Sendai Tansu, Chest of Drawers

Sendai tansu are today renowned for an elaborate style and highly ornamental metal fittings. The craft was originally developed by the domain's samurai. It experienced a resurgence in popularity after Japan opened up to the modern world. The metal fittings are said to have originally come from armor melted-down at the end of the samurai era. The Date clan's emphasis on developing skills and becoming self-independent helped them survive and thrive down the years.