Sendai is one of the biggest cities in Japan's North. It is also a city with a relatively young populace, and you do feel that when you walk around the streets of Sendai. Sendai itself does not have major tourist draws, but it is near Matsushima, a large group of islands, and historically considered one of the three great views in Japan.
After having visited most of the attractions in Matsumoto, we decided that we could still go to Sendai and find a hotel for the night, and then get up early next morning to go to Matsushima (Matsushima-Kaigan station). Unfortunately, there is no direct route going from Matsumoto to Sendai, because of the intervening mountains of the Japanese Alps. We first took a train to Tokyo, and then one to Sendai. Needless to say that this took a lot of time.
After arriving in Sendai, it was dark. It was around 10 o'clock at night, and we were hungry and without a hotel to sleep. We first searched for a hotel to sleep, but were unable to find the hotel that we had picked from the Lonely Planet. After walking up and down the block twice we realized that is was better to find something by ourselves. Luckily we saw a realatively cheap chain hotel: SuperHotel on Jozenji Dori. Luckily they still had space, and luckily the girl at the desk knew a few words of English. Together with our few words of Japanese, courtesy of Japanese Phrasebook, we could book a hotel room, and we got it for halfprice. The half-price was because we were students, in combination with the fact that is was a holiday (Spring Equinox, Shumbun-ni-hi). So if you are a student and happen to be in Japan around an official holiday, perhaps check out a SuperHotel. It is also possible to stay in Matsushima, there are old-style ryokans and hotels, and there is a youth hostel (near Nobiru Station, at Oku-Matsushima).
Sendai is a fun place at night, there is quite some nightlife, and there were several restaurants near our hotel (and also the eternally loud pachinko parlors). We still had not eaten, and we ventured out the hotel to a shipping mall. and the adjoining streets. We settled in a underground restaurant which served japanese food. We did not make it very late, because we wanted to go to Matsushima early the next morning, and reach Nikko in time to visit it before going to Tokyo. Of course that did not quite happen that way (see the page on Nikko).
In any case we arrived relatively early at Matsushima-Kaigan station. We quickly found a locker for our luggage, and we walked accros the street en towards to small pier, where the sightseeing boat was already docked. Just a few minutes later we left on short trip through the Matsushima bay.
We were rather unfortuntate with the weather; Perhaps we were a bit too early in the morning, as it was cloady and somewhat misty. Nevertheless the views were pretty nice. Matsushima is one of the "three great views" of Japan. Even though we enjoyed it greatly, Japan has several places that look just a nice. MAtsushima is definetly worth going there when you are in the area, but maybe not a day- or two-day trip from Tokyo. But perhaps when the weather is good, it should be truely one of the three great views.
After our trip on the boat, we walked around the bay a bit. The views for which the bay is known are found a various spots around the bay, not necessarily on the water. Indeed there were several nice views and short walks. However, we wanted to go to Nikko still, and therefore we decided to forego the hikes. Unfortunately, Matsushima station is not a very regularly served station, and we also had to change in Sendai. In the end however we arrived in Nikko just before 5 o'clock in the afternoon.