Hanyu Yuzuru is more than just a two-time Olympic champion. People around the world are enchanted by his great passion and dedication to ice skating, as well as his gentle and compassionate personality. His self-challenging spirit continues to move the audience in each of his performances. So if you are a “Fanyu” or someone who admires Japan’s Ice Prince, visiting his hometown Sendai during your next Japan trip is probably on the top of your bucket list!
We thus collate the below attraction list for you to plan your pilgrimage to Yuzuru’s hometown. The attractions below are listed in accordance with their distance from Sendai Station.
- Sendai City Tourist Information Center (駅たびコンシェルジュ仙台)
- Jōzenji-dōri Avenue (定禅寺通)
- International Center Station (国際センター駅)
- Goshikinuma Pond (五色沼)
- Zuihōden Temple (瑞鳳殿)
- Nanakita Park (七北田公園)
- Ice Rink Sendai (アイスリンク仙台)
- Ōsaki Hachimangū Shrine (大崎八幡宮)
- Akiu Shrine (秋保神社)
- Saihōji Temple (定義如来 西方寺)
- Jōgi Tofu (定義とうふ店)
- Bonus Yuzuru Pilgirmage Spot in Kyoto – Seimei Shrine (晴明神社)
- Bonus Yuzuru Pilgirmage Spot in Kobe – Yuzuruha Shrine (弓弦羽神社)
Click HERE to skip to Sendai City’s access information.
Explore Sendai With a Guided Tour
In addition to the above-mentioned spots, if you prefer a guide to introduce you to the beauty of Sendai, how about joining one of the below tours?
- Sendai / Matsushima Half-Day Private Tour with Government-Licensed Guide
- Sendai / Matsushima Full-Day Private Tour with Government-Licensed Guide
- 4-Hours Night Alley and Bar Hopping Tour in Sendai
- 1-Day Private Sendai Tour
Sendai City Tourist Information Center (駅たびコンシェルジュ仙台)
The first pilgrimage spot is just on Sendai Station’s 2nd floor. The Sendai City Tourist Information Center isn’t your typical tourist center. In addition to sourcing tourist information, a 1:1 scale Hanyu Yuzuru board awaits!
The Haori Hakama (羽織袴) that Yuzuru wears is Sendai’s famous traditional textile, Sendaihira (仙台平). The kimono was tailor-made by craftsmen for Yuzuru, with the Hanyu family crest embroidered. The Haori Hakama was what he wore to receive the People’s Honour Award (国民栄誉賞) from the then Prime Minster, Abe Shinzo, in 2018.
Before heading to other pilgrimage spots, don’t be shy to take a photo with the board!
Tip: Purchase one of the transportation passes mentioned at the end of the article from the Sendai City Tourist Information Center to save some money!
Sendaihira is made from durable and almost wrinkle-free, high-grade textile fabric. Because of its bright luster, it is often used as a high-end gift. The only Sendaihira manufacturer left is the Gasshigaisha Sendaihira (合資会社仙臺平).
Jōzenji-dōri Avenue (定禅寺通)
The next pilgrimage spot is Jozenji-dōri Avenue. When Yuzuru was interviewed by the Weekend Sendai (週末仙台), this spot came up in the interview, and Yuzuru recommended visiting the zelkova-lined avenue in December when the Sendai Pageant of Starlight (SENDAI 光のページェント) is held.
During the illumination event, hundreds of thousands of LED lights are used to decorate the trees, making it one of the most fantastic and beautiful places in Sendai.
But December isn’t the only time of the year when people head to Jōzenji-dōri Avenue. The 700-meter avenue is the venue of many events. With artistic bronze statues scattered on the avenue, it is also a small outdoor art museum!
How to Get to Jōzenji-dōri Avenue
From Sendai Station, take Sendai Subway’s Namboku Line (南北線) and get off at Kōtōdaikoen Station (勾当台公園駅). The avenue is a 3-minute walk from the station.
International Center Station (国際センター駅)
Taking Sendai Subway’s Tōzai Line to International Center Station. You will find Hanyu Yuzuru’s handprints just outside of the station!
The commemorative panels were set up for Hanyu Yuzuru and Arakawa Shizuka (荒川靜香) in 2017. Both of them were figure skating Olympic champions born in Sendai. Their iconic poses from the Olympic Games were gloriously printed on the panels with their autographs.
Goshikinuma Pond (五色沼)
The next pilgrimage spot is in Aobayama Park, next to the International Center Station. The Goshikinuma Pond in the park is said to be the birthplace of Figure Skating in Japan.
Figure skating was introduced by a missionary in 1897 when he was teaching children to skate on the frozen Goshikinuma Pond. Because of this history, the commemorative panels were placed in front of the International Center Station.
The pond is surrounded by greenery. Although it doesn’t often freeze in winter anymore, the scenery remains beautiful after snow.
Zuihōden Temple (瑞鳳殿)
The next pilgrimage spot is southeast of Aobayama Park. Zuihōden is Yuzuru’s recommended place to visit in an interview with free news agency Sendai Meguri (仙台巡り).
“Speaking of a place to enjoy the beauty of four seasons, Zuihōden pops into my head”, said Yuzuru.
In addition to Yuzuru’s recommendation, an ice-skate-shaped stone is found as a part of the stone pavement close to Zuihōden’s left exit (refer to the 4th photo in the IG post). When you get there, just check with the temple’s staff. They all know where it is; you won’t be the first person asking for directions (´▽｀*).
In addition, don’t forget to stop by the temple’s shop for Yuzuru’s poster and autograph!
For more information about the temple, refer to our article on Zuihōden!
Nanakita Park (七北田公園)
Nanakita Park is the place that accompanied Yuzuru’s childhood. The park was where various school events took place. Nanakita Elementary School, the elementary school that he attended, is also located close to this park.
When Yuzuru won a second Olympics gold medal, Nanakita Park’s management team planted a cherry tree to commemorate his victory.
How to Get to Nanakita Park
Nanakita Park is around a 5-minute walk from Sendai Subway’s Izumichūō Station (泉中央駅).
Ice Rink Sendai (アイスリンク仙台)
As you already know, Yuzuru started to learn ice skating when he was just four years old at Ice Rink Sendai. It is where he met his first coach, Tsuduki Shōichirō (都築 章一郎). When the Tōhoku earthquake hit Sendai, Yuruzu was still practicing on this ice rink!
Fortunately, he escaped right away without injury.
The ice rink thus has many items relating to Yuzuru on exhibit, including his drawings and another 1:1 scale Yururu board!
Nowadays, many children are still practising their ice skating skills at Ice Rink Sendai. So how about renting a pair of ice skates and pretending you are Hanyu Yuzuru when you visit this spot that nurtured him all these years?
Ice Rink Sendai’s Opening Hours and Access Information
- Ice Rink Sendai is open from
- 12 pm to 6 pm on weekdays
- 10 am to 6 pm on weekends and public holidays
- The cost is
- 1,200 yen for adults
- 700 yen for high school students
- 600 yen for elementary school students and younger
- 500 yen to rent a pair of ice skates
- 200 yen to view/observe at the side of the rink
- From Sendai Subway’s Izumichūō Station (泉中央駅), take a bus operated by Miyagi Kōtsū and get off at Takatamachō Kōen-mae (高玉町公園前)
Ōsaki Hachimangū Shrine (大崎八幡宮)
The shrine is also where athletes pray for victory before important matches. If you are a fan of the famous Japanese figure skater, Hanyu Yuzuru, or a Sendai-based Japanese sports team, Ōsaki Hachimangū should be on your pilgrimage spot list!
Furthermore, you will be pleasantly surprised by the five shrine roosters during your visit.
For more information about this gorgeous shrine, please refer to our article on Ōsaki Hachimangū.
Akiu Shrine (秋保神社)
Akiu Shrine has a history of more than 1,200 years. It is a renowned shrine for people to pray for victory. Many athletes thus would visit the shrine before the games start.
Before the 2017 Winter Olympics, Akiu Shrine gifted Yuzuru a flag of victory. After becoming the champion, he also visited the shrine to show appreciation.
Before the 2022 Olympic Games, many Yuzuru’s fans visited the shrine and purchased the flag of victory for him. It is said that before the game started, more than 100 victory flags were hung across the shrine!
Saihōji Temple (定義如来 西方寺)
Saihōji is the temple where Yuzuru and his family would often visit. The temple that is buried in rich nature is just stunning. When you get there, it won’t be hard to imagine why the Hanyus love this place so much.
In the tofu store nearby, you will also find Yuzuru’s autograph (^_-)-☆.
For more information about the gorgeous temple, refer to our article on Saihōji!
Jōgi Tofu (定義とうふ店)
There are a couple of tofu shops lined Saihōji Temple‘s approach. The one that you must visit is Jōgi Tofu, the shop that is closest to the temple’s gate.
Why? Because not only is the deep-fried tofu there just delicious, it is the shop that Yuzuru visited often. Amongst all the autographs displayed in the shop, two belong to Yuzuru!
Jōgi Tofu was established in 1890 to make the tofu in the Shōjin Ryōri (精進料理) offered to the Buddha in Saihōji, Jōgi Nyorai (定義如来). The shop is now so popular that there might be a queue, even on a weekday!
While the shop serves various types of tofu to its customers, including soy milk, what has also been attracting customers from around the country to visit the shop is, however, the triangular deep-fried bean curd. Despite its size (20cm x 3cm thickness), you can still finish one bean curd in no time!
Most customers thus would order at least two bean curds. Once you get your food, remember to add the two seasonings placed on the table (soy sauce and garlic-flavored seven-spiced blend)! If you love the seasoning, they are also on sale for purchase (^_-)-☆.
And if you ask for the secret to the bean curd’s deliciousness, they are made with 100% soybeans. Each bean curd is then fried twice, once at a lower temperature and the second time at a higher temperature. It is said that this is the only way to make the deep-fried bean curd retain its crispy skin but have a soft but thick interior.
Jōgi Tofu’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Jōgi Tofu is open from 8 am to 6 pm.
- It is around a 5-minute walk from the bus stop, Jōgi.
Bonus Yuzuru Pilgirmage Spot in Kyoto – Seimei Shrine (晴明神社)
Seimei Shrine enshrines the astronomer in the Heian period, Abe no Seimei (安倍晴明), commonly known as a leading specialist of Onmyōdō.
As one of the most popular shrines in Kyoto, Yuzuru has also visited the shrine before. Because of his visit, the shrine now receives many “Fanyus”!
The Yakuyoke Peach (厄除桃) in the photo and the sacred camphor tree (御神木), which is more than 300 years old, are the two Yuzuru Pilgrimage spots in Seimei Shrine. When Yuzuru visited the shrine, he followed suit and touched the peach and the sacred tree to receive their divine benefits!
You will also find Yuzuru’s ema amongst the many ema plaques hung by celebrities. Yuzuru’s one was hung on the 2nd of July, 2015.
Bonus Yuzuru Pilgirmage Spot in Kobe – Yuzuruha Shrine (弓弦羽神社)
The other famous Yuzuru Pilgrimage Spot in the Kansai region is Yuzuruha Shrine. Because the shrine’s name is similar to Yuzuru’s, his fans start visiting the shrine and writing prayers for him on the back of the ema plaques.
As the shrine became more popular within the Fanyu communities, Yuzuru also visited the shrine in 2011. The prayer that he wrote on the back of the ema was “May I be the top of the world. And, be the light of the Tōhoku region (世界のトップになれますように…、そして、東北の光となれるように！)”.
Yuzuruha Shrine was originally a shrine associated with soccer. But after it became a pilgrimage spot of Yuzuru, the visitors are now mainly his fans. At the same time, it is said that after Yuzuru visited the shrine, other athletes also started praying there for their sports career success!
On the 2nd of July 2015, Yuzuru visited Yuzuruha Shrine and offered another ema. This time, he made two prayers.
- Everyone’s thoughts are pushing my back. I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I hope everyone can stay happy (皆様の想いが私の背中を押してくれています 心からの感謝を そして、皆様が皆様の幸せを感じられますように).
- May I be able to grow and improve without injury and hope I can continue to perform true to myself (ケガなく常に成長する気持ちを忘れず、自分らしく演技ができますように).
How to Get to Sendai
- By Airplane
- You can fly to Sendai Airport (仙台空港). From Sendai Airport to the city, it will be just around a 30-minute journey on bus or train.
- By JR Train
- From Tokyo, the bullet train will transport you to Sendai in just over 2 hours.
- By Bus
- You can also take an express bus from the main cities in Japan to Sendai.
A List of JR Passes that Covers Sendai
Below is a list of JR passes covering Sendai and other regions. Please keep in mind that depending on your itinerary, a JR pass may or may not be worthwhile for your trip. You can estimate the transportation cost using Google Maps and compare the total price to a JR pass.
- JR Pass (7-Day, 14-Day, or 21-Day)
- JR EAST PASS（Tohoku area）/ 5 Days
- JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass (6 Days)
If you have determined the above passes won’t save you money, you can purchase a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Sendai HERE.
How to Travel Between Sendai’s Attractions
Like all the main cities in Japan, in addition to JR trains, Sendai has a city subway, a sightseeing bus line, and local bus companies connecting you to the attractions in the city. You can also rent out one of the community bicycles, Date Bike!
Date Bike (ダテバイク)
The shared bike service in Sendai City is called Date Bike. Several bicycle ports are set up for you to rent and return the bicycle, making it more convenient for everyone.
Note that an account is required to rent the Date Bikes. For more information, please refer to the official website HERE. You can translate the webpage by changing the language settings at the top right-hand side.
Sendai Sightseeing City Loop Bus – Loople Sendai (るーぷる仙台)
Remember to purchase one of the One-Day Passes to save some money if you plan to board the bus more than twice.
For your pilgrimage trip, you can board Loople Sendai to get to Goshikinuma Pond (五色沼) and Ōsaki Hachimangū Shrine (大崎八幡宮).
For more information, please refer to Loople Sendai’s website HERE.
Sendai Subway (仙台市地下鉄)
The Sendai City Transportation Bureau operates the Sendai Subway and consists of two lines, the north-south Namboku Line (南北線) and the east-west Tōzai Line (東西線).
For your pilgrimage trip, you can board Loople Sendai to get to International Center Station (国際センター駅), Ice Rink Sendai (アイスリンク仙台), and Nanakita Park (七北田公園).
☛ The One-Day Subway Pass is cheaper on weekends and public holidays.
☛ A One-Day Pass for both Loople Sendai and Sendai Subway are available.
☛ If you purchase one of the passes, remember to check out the attractions where you can get a discount by showing the pass!
Local Buses (路線バス)
Besides the Loople Sendai, other buses serving Sendai City are operated by the two companies below:
- Sendai City Bus (仙台市営バス) in green color
- Miyagi Kōtsū (宮城交通) in red color
The One-Day Sendai Area Pass and Two-Day Sendai Marugoto Pass (仙台まるごとパス」)
The One-Day Pass for Loople Sendai and Sendai Subway won’t give you access to local buses. So if you plan to travel to attractions further away from the city center, consider purchasing the One-Day Sendai Area Pass or a Two-Day Sendai Marugoto Pass!
For more information about the passes, please refer to the official website HERE.
Important: The One-Day Sendai Area Pass can only be purchased by tourists with a short-term 90-Day visa.
Discover Other Fantastic Attractions in Sendai
You might not be aware of it, but Sendai, the Tōhoku region‘s biggest city, receives more than 20 million tourists each year!
So if you want to find out how Sendai manages to attract so many visitors, refer to our article on Sendai, which is filled with many historical, cultural, and natural attractions (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.