Zuihoden resting amongst Cedar Trees

In the shade of ancient cedar trees rests Sendai’s Lord Date Masamune in his mausoleum, the Zuihoden.

Lord Date (1567-1636) was a renowned and well-respected feudal lord during the early Edo Period. The “one-eyed-dragon”, as he was also known due to the loss of sights in his right eye during his childhood, transformed Sendai into a prosperous town carving out a legacy lasting to this day.

His Zuihoden Mausoleum was built tucked in a forest of 300-year old cedar trees in 1637, shortly after his death. The Zuihoden is laid out as a small complex with several ornately decorated “houses” as a final resting place for Lord Date and his family. Although the buildings were destroyed by American bombing in1945, they have been faithfully rebuild in the image of their original predecessors.

What makes the Zuihoden so unique is its architecture with most of the walls and beams are covered with elaborate decorations and intricate carvings one would not generally find in Japan. The roof for example is adorned with dragon-shaped tiles while the columns are carved with shishi lion masks. One will even spot Western references, such as roses and crosses, amongst the decorations as Lord Date was one of the first lords to embrace foreign trade. While the other mausoleums within the complex are of a similar architecture, they remain more sober than the Zuihoden.

Photo by Phil Balchin

It is well-recommended to first visit Aoba Castle, constructed by Lord Date during his reign, before enjoying a pleasant stroll in the shade of the ancient cedar trees and tranquil surroundings of the Zuihoden while admiring its architecture to the fullest.



Name: Zuihoden (瑞鳳殿)
Address: 23-2 Otamayashita, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-0814, Miyagi Prefecture
Opening hours: 9:00-16:00 (closed on December 31st and January 1st)
Admission Fee: 550 yen for general public
400 yen for Elementary and Junior High School Students

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