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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MUFA Day#15: Sendai

I had a small Tokyo Westin breakfast:


Then caught the bullet train to Sendai, a ride of an hour and a half.  It's a leisurely ten minute walk to the Westin Sendai:


You can barely see the WESTIN at the top of the building.  I immediately noticed two things.  A hospital is across the street and there is a clinic next to the hotel.  Useful in case my arm worsens or I have another accident.  Perhaps I'll go visit the Emergency Room to see if everyone is wearing a mask.

My room was not ready so I went next door for a steak meal.  Strange.  I ordered the most expensive portion, and if someone told me this was the latest version of artificial steak made from bacteria, I would have said:  not bad, it is rubbery, but chewable, and almost has the taste of beef.  


The red wine was really cold, but drinkable.

I then took a short walk and took photos of street flowers:


There was also a Hawaiian Kitchen:


I finally got my room and can say that the Westin Sendai is the best hotel I'll see on this trip, and I think I'm only paying $45/night.  Hmmm...radiation?  The wall to the outside of my 32nd story room is a giant picture window:


The staff is unusually helpful and friendly, even for Japan, the room is large with a panoramic view and the amenities are tops.  The Executive Club is classy:


I got here just in time for the sunset, and had a Kir Royale with mixed nuts.  While the food assortment is limited, and there is no scotch, the room is beautiful and view incredible.  That was my dinner tonight.


What is Sendai today was inhabited 20,000 years ago, and became a city from around 1600.  The population is slightly smaller than Hawaii, at 1.1 million.  Just mentioning I'm from Hawaii in this city and people go into ecstatic wonderment.  

Sendai means a thousand Buddhist temples.  The city was leveled in World War II by bombing.  The coastal portion of the city, including the airport and port, was seriously damaged by that Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.  Sendai is about 50 miles from the leaking Fukushima nuclear reactors:


The city is best known for its Tanabata Festival in the summer, for which I came several years ago.  They also sponsor a Yosokoi Festival, as influenced by Kochi on Shikoku.  It's known for cow tongue (I'll skip that), robatayaki (rock barbecue) and miso ramen.  ARGHHH!!!  I just realized what my lunch was:  COW TONGUE!!!

I had breakfast at Symphony (and in a week or so I'll be on the Crystal Symphony on my way back to Honolulu):


There were three kinds of soups.  That salmon-colored item in the blue rectangular dish at the top is salmon.  On this trip every Japanese breakfast served salmon.  I wondered why and went to Google.  No answer.  My guess is that salted (refrigeration is a recent luxury) fish is a staple of breakfasts here, and salmon prevails at hotels because the color adds an aesthetic quality.  The salmon, or any fish, is not as salty today because it doesn't have to be anymore, and sodium is bad for the health.  My seat overlooked the Sendai Station:


I caught the Loople for $6/day, a bus service that takes you all around Sendai.  There are 15 stops, taking 75 minutes for the full loop, and at this time of year comes by every half an hour.  I could go on forever about my day, so let me only show from Tohoku University:


Same thing from different views.  Tohoku University has five campuses in Sendai, the third oldest Imperial University and is within the top 50 of best world universities.

One of the advantages of the Westin Sendai is that it is close to those enclosed shopping malls:


It gets very cold in this city, although today was sunny and 70 F.  After much internal debating, as I've had too much Japanese food, I decided to go international and got a bottle of Grand Kirin (6% alcohol) and a Spanish Tempranillo to accompany a Subway salami and potato chips to enjoy in my room:


All the above cost about $10 from shops in my building, for the hotel floors start on the 27th floor.  My final drink for the day was a Kir Royale in the Executive Club:


This was my cheapest day, for, including the $45/night room, I spent all of $65 today.  Tomorrow, on to Aomori, the home of those giant Japanese apples.

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