Sendai, one of the largest cities in Japan; a modern city with great scenery and delicious food, it is also home to the Anime “Wake Up, Girls!”. And what better way to enjoy Japan than to go on an Anime Pilgrimage by visiting Sendai and experiencing their wonderful sights and sounds first-hand yourself? Here are some of my recommended places-of-interests and attractions the next time you drop by Sendai, including some restaurants that fans of “Wake Up, Girls!” would especially appreciate.
Have a meal at “Kisuke“
In episode 1 of the “Wake Up, Girls!” anime, the girls work on a gourmet report for the restaurant “Kisuke“. What is so good about this restaurant?
When trying out Sendai’s specialities, you definitely cannot miss out one of their most well-known food products: beef tongue! “Kisuke”, established in 1975, is one of the MUST GO places if you want to try this delicious dish. The beef tongue dishes here are served in your choice of Salt (Shio) or Sauce (Tare) flavours, and are paired with a special bowl of barley rice (Hitomebore). The grilled beef tongue is extremely tender and melts in your mouth, while the barley rice is nutty, sweet and goes well with the meat. What’s more, if you want to, you can sit down right by the bar to see how they prepare and grill the beef tongue!
Many famous personalities have similarly visited this shop and given their stamp of approval by way of signed boards. Do you recognise any of them?
More information about “Kisuke” can be found on http://www.sendai-oishi.jp/en/course/kisuke.html!
In episode 1 of the “Wake Up, Girls!” Anime, the girls had a meeting in this very cafe. Cafe Bijou is great to drop by during the evening for a relaxing cup of coffee. With a tranquil atmosphere, it is a comfortable place to just chill out with some friends and take a break from the hustle and bustle of traveling all day, or simply grab a sip and do some light reading from the cafe’s own collection of books and magazines.
The cafe also offers an assorted menu, from curry rice and Napolitan spaghetti, to a wide variety of teas and drinks. Their warm & crispy waffles and decadent cakes are my personal ‘must try’ items at this place.
Given their feature in the Anime, many fans have made it a point to travel to this cafe. They have also left message books made by themselves which the cafe has graciously agreed to display. If you ever come across them on your visit, do leave a message for the girls!
Grab some pancakes at Pancake & Cafe 38 Mitsubachi
Similarly to “Kisuke“, “38 Mitsubashi” appeared in episode 3 of the Anime. The girls made their big announcement to have a live performance in front of this restaurant. Since this has appeared in the Anime, why don’t we check it out?
After exploring and touring around, some pancakes and coffee are just the thing for you to replenish your energy. This cafe offers pancakes in an impressive number of flavour combinations, in several jumbo-sized servings. For the big-eaters out there, you might want to take up this challenge yourself, or go the normal route and share it with some friends.
The main specialty of this shop is the 10-levels (Juu-Dan) pancake, a dish often mentioned in the anime. Although it might not look too intimidating in the picture, it really is a momentous undertaking to finish. You have to see it for yourself to believe it!
Experience a live house at MACANA
One of the places where the girls based themselves to perform. Live & Club MACANA appeared in episode 5 of the Anime. In this episode the girls were still very inexperienced in performing, but later worked harder to become better.
While not a common scene in Singapore, this club is a great place to jam to some rock music. The club hosts many lives during the night for people who enjoy the night life of jumping and cheering to these live performances. From Rock music, to Japanese Pop, and occasionally Idols, the line-up for every other night is different. The monthly schedule is put up on the club’s website and the club itself is open every evening. Why not free your nights in Sendai for some fun and see if it’s for you? Who knows, you might come across some performers that you’re interested in!
If you find yourself wanting for a drink during the night, there is a drink bar in the club. Fans of the various acts on stage would often mingle around after each live to talk about their personal experiences and thoughts on the performance. You can mix around and make some new friends with similar interests this way!
Bring home some souvenirs from “Kumagai-ya“
“Kumagai-ya“, home to one of the girls “Airi Hayashida” is also a traditional Japanese sweets store. This place appeared in episode 7 of the Anime.
This traditional Japanese sweets store has been open for over 300 years and is currently operated by the tenth generation owner.
The store offers many different Japanese sweets (dagashi), including various types of mochi, all of which are beautifully and meticulously decorated. Even though their sweets are largely based on just rice and sugar, you will be surprised at what kind of magical treats they have managed to create simply using those two ingredients.
One sweet I’m particularly fond of is the “Kurumi Yubeshi“, a mochi filled with walnuts. The mochi is soft and has a great texture to it, sweetness that is not overwhelming and the walnuts add a delightful crunch to the treat.
In a nod to the show, this store decorates their interior with her character goods, which you can see right from the moment you enter.
In addition to their signature regular Japanese sweets, the store has also created special Japanese sweets themed according to “Wake Up, Girls!”. The most note-worthy one is in my opinion the adorable shark-shaped mochi, which is “Airi Hayashida”‘s representative animal.
Aesthetically and gastronomically pleasing, their sweets make perfect souvenirs for your family or friends and provide an alternative to the usual gifts you can buy at the airport before flying home. You will definitely not regret a trip made here!
These are just some of the locations featured in the “Wake Up, Girls!” Anime. Besides being a lot of fun, going on an Anime Pilgrimage is a valuable way to get closer to the show’s creation and production processes. Of course, there are still many more which I highly encourage you to explore and visit for yourself.
“Wake Up, Girls!” is an anime about a tiny production company based in Sendai, Green Leaves Entertainment, on a verge of going out of business. The company last desperate actions to scout out seven girls to form an new idol unit, hoping to save itself by using this unit to take over another established idol unit, the I-1 club.