Surprisingly, it's not something you'll find on any tourist info, but Sendai is home to the 6th tallest statue in the world, the Sendai Daikannon. It's exactly 100m tall, and was built in the 1980s by a local businessman. Despite portraying Kannon Bodhisattva (a Buddhist Goddess of Mercy), it was built for tax avoidance purposes, rather than religious ones. A few things I've read suggest that this means that people don't like it, and this is why no tourism information alludes to it. There is probably some truth in this, but the people I've spoken to don't seem to realise how unusual it is. Considering how few tourist attractions Sendai has, I'm very surprised they don't make more of this one!
It's tucked away in a slightly seedy district of Northern Sendai, surrounded by Pachinko parlours and fast food shops, and has a really rather rundown feel. It isn't a popular tourist destination, and you can feel it! The feeling continues inside, with peeling wallpaper, random chairs dumped around, and just a few tiny windows (half of which don't even open) to look out of at the top. Despite this, there is a good view from the top, and I'm glad I went up once during my year here!
There is a great display of Buddhist statues inside, each displaying one of the 108 Sins (or Earthly Desires or Defilements) of Buddhism. To see just how many you're guilty of, see here for a full list. We tried to work out what one or two of them were for (there was no English info), but 108 is a lot!
To visit the Sendai Daikannon, get the Senzan Line to Kitayama Station and walk about 30 minutes uphill from there (route map here). If I remember rightly, it costs ¥600 per person to go in. I'm not sure I'd exactly recommend it, but it was an bizarre way to spend a morning and I'm glad I went! If nothing else, keep an eye out for her benevolent face gazing out over Sendai any time you're there!
Daikannon from below
Entrance through the dragon's mouth
View out of Sendai, from the West window. Our apartment is somewhere over the mountains to the left
View over the North of Sendai
One of the many, many statues inside!
Finally, a (very bad) iphone photo of the Daikannon (left) looking over Sendai