Zuihoden Mausoleum A Must - See Destination


Zuihoden Mausoleum a must-see destinationThe Zuihoden Mausoleum is where one of Japan's the most powerful feudal lords is entombed.
The site, the last resting place of Date Masamune, is about 15 minutes by bus from Sendai Station.

The complex is laid out like a small house. The exterior features multicolored and ornate exterior woodwork.

Date Masamune (1567-1636) was the first lord of Sendai who founded the domain in the early Edo Period (1603-1867). He built Aoba Castle, also known as Sendai Castle, atop Aobayama mountain.

As a child, Masamune lost sight in his right eye due to disease. Despite that setback, he managed to conquer the southern part of the Tohoku region and lived to the age of 70. He is one of Japan’s most beloved samurai lords, and is known as “Dokugan-ryu,” or the “one-eyed-dragon.”

The Zuihoden is a short walk from the bus stop. Take the steep stone steps flanked by tall pine trees that were planted more than 300 years ago. The entrance to the mausoleum is tucked inside the tree-covered hillside. The mausoleum was built in 1637, one year after Masamune’s death.

The walls are covered with decorations depicting the phoenix of ancient Chinese legend, “tennyo” celestial maidens, “shishi” lions, butterflies and flowers.

It is a sumptuous spread of reds, blues and greens. Dragon-shaped tiles adorn the roof.

A five-minute walk from Zuihoden brings a visitor to other graves of the Date clan. The Kansenden is the grave of Tadamune, Masamune’s heir. The Zennoden is the grave of his grandson Tsunamune. These are also decorated in the same sumptuous style, but compared to Masamune’s resplendent Zuihoden, they are somewhat plainer.

The three mausoleums were destroyed by Allied bombing in 1945, and rebuilt from 1979 to 1985. The buildings faithfully recreate the images of the originals and revive the flavor of ancient times.

Burial accessories that were unearthed from the gravesites are on display at the museum on site, and at the Sendai City Museum.

Zuihoden Mausoleum
Address: 23-2 Otamayashita, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture
Tel: +81-(0)22-262-6250
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closes at 4 p.m. from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31)
Closed on Dec. 31
Admission: 550 yen ($5.28)

AJW