Hatsu-uri Hatsu-uri Hatsu-uri

The traditional event at the beginning of the year, "Sendai Hatsu-uri"

Throughout the world there are characteristic sales depending on the country. For example, in the United States, they have a large-scaled sale starting on the day following Thanksgiving in November. In Australia, there’s a sale which starts on the day after Christmas in December. And let’s not forget our annual event of "hatsu-uri" which takes place during the New Year in Japan.

Traditionally in Japan, January 2nd is supposed to be a lucky day to do things for the first time in the year, which is called "kotohajime." For example, people who practice calligraphy have "kakizome," first writing, and those who play any musical instrument have "hikizome," first playing, and stores have "hatsuni," first shipping and "hatsu-uri", first sale. "Sendai Hatsu-uri," which takes place on January 2nd is inspired by this notion.


"Sendai Hatsu-uri" has a long history. In "Sendai Nenchu-gyoji," a book published in the Bunka and Bunsei eras (1804 ―1824), which is in the period of domain duties, there’s a description, "From the early morning of the 2nd , a knock at the door; first sale and first buy." You can see that the New Year’s tradition "Sendai Hatsu-uri" has been inherited by the department stores and specialized shops in the shopping streets of Sendai for more than 200 years and that it’s one of the biggest first sales of the New Year’s getting attention both in and outside of Japan.

From the early hours on January 2nd, in the shopping streets of downtown there are a great number of shoppers ready to buy. There are Japanese drum performances, lion dances and free rice-drink service. All of this entertainment create the hustle and bustle at a real festival. The shoppers’ targets are lucky bags which contain goods more valuable than the price, lucky tea boxes, and gift certificates with premium rates. The goods sold at the Sendai Hatsu-uri have been called the best in Japan, and it has been recognized by the Fair Trade Commission as being especially unique for how the shops within the Sendai domain have based the event according to the traditional customs.

Unlike an ordinary sale, "Sendai Hatsu-uri" is a traditional event with both sellers and shoppers praying for well-being for the year.

Downtown Sendai Hatsu-uri Map


Dept. Store 1 Sendai Mitsukoshi
3 Sakurano
Large-scale Store 4 Don Quijote
6 Daiei
7 E BeanS
11 S-PAL
Electronics Store 12 Yamada Denki
13 Yodobashi Camera
Shopping Street 14 Ocha no Igeta
15 Mitakisan Fudoin Temple / Sendai Shiro
Hotel 16 Sendai Kokusai Hotel
17 Koyo Grand Hotel
18 Hotel Metropolitan Sendai

"Sendai Shiro," the god of good fortune that brings prosperity in business

Sendai Shiro

Like the proverb says, "Good fortune and happiness will come to the home of those who smile," there used to be a man who beckoned fortune with his smile in Sendai. Still now there are shops in Sendai decorated with a figurine or an old photograph of him with a tender smile, and a square paper describing him as "the god of business prosperity." His name was Sendai Shiro and he actually lived in Sendai from the end of the Edo era through 1902.

Born at the home of a gun craftsman, Sendai Shiro hardly ever talked with people, and spent every day walking around the town. People liked him because he was innocent and winsome. He especially loved children, and he was always smiling in a good mood whenever they were around.

Strangely enough, whichever shop he stopped by became prosperous afterward, and thus he was always welcomed by any shop in town. People said, "Children he held up into his arms will grow up to be strong," and he was quite popular in town.

From the legend, it can be said that even today Sendai Shiro is be loved by the people of Sendai as the god who invites good fortune. Sendai Shiro is enshrined at Mitakisan Fudoin on Chris Road shopping street and people visit the place and pray for business prosperity.