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Sitting northeast of Tokyo on Honshu Island, Sendai was almost totally obliterated during an air raid in 1945. Today, wide tree-lined streets provide the perfect backdrop for the summer spectacular of the "Tanabata Matsuri". This is the world's most elegant paper and bamboo festival when the city is festooned with colorful decorations in August every year. The festival has been passed down through the generations, dating back to the first lord of the Sendai domain.
For a relatively small city (the 2nd largest city north of Tokyo with a population of around the million mark) you will find an impressive throbbing nightlife scene happening, amidst a city that is home to the first university, "Tohoku Imperial University" founded in 1907. It was the first university to admit female students in 1913. It is here that on March 2011 that the city's coastal areas were decimated during a magnitude 9.0 offshore earthquake when hundreds were killed and countless injured or made homeless. The center of the Tōhoku region's economy, the city relies heavily on retail and services. The government is now encouraging high-tech ventures from the science and engineering departments of the Tohoku University to establish themselves, in an effort to alleviate this focus.
Founded in 1600, Sendai is nicknamed "The City of Trees" as there are approximately 60 zelkova trees lining the length of Jōzenji Street and Aobe Street where you can promenade with the locals. Make sure you check out the 17th Century Sendai Castle and surrounding gardens with its museum proudly overlooking the city.
Whilst the Tanabata Matsuri festival is the largest festival, there is also the Aoba Matsuri Festival where you can gawk at a samurai parade, traditional dancing and numerous floats, if you are chasing some culture. There is the Jōzenji street jazz festival, one of the largest amateur music festivals in Japan, to bop along to and the Michinoku Yosakoi dance festival to show off your talents.
You can munch away on "Gyūtan teishoku" - a Table d'hôte of beef tongue - or dive into a bowl of cold Chinese noodles whilst deciding which hand-woven silk fabric or Tsutsumiyaki pottery piece to splurge on.
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