Sendai is a wonderful city when it comes to public transportation. Every level of transportation is exceptionally efficient, punctual and always clean. We recommend you find your rhythm before committing to any of the numerous quick pay cards available. If you choose to drive a car Sendai is easy to navigate with mostly broad roads and some traffic located more downtown. You can read much more information at this LINK about driving in Japan. A few things to stress up front about driving in Japan. If you use an international drivers license you should be working to get your Japanese drivers license as quickly as possible. This is because once you get your residence card, the government, and your insurance company will want to see you are making the attempt in case you get in an accident.
You must pass both a written exam and a driving test: the driving test is not easy and very few people ever pass the first time. Some have taken it five to six times without passing.
Two absolute do not dos: Do not drink and drive and do not run out of gas. There is a ZERO percent tolerance. If you drink half a glass do not drive. The penalties are incredibly strict if you get caught. Also, if you run out of gas you will be ticketed and fined up to $2000.
If driving seems daunting to you then you can always get a bike. Sendai is built for bikes in most areas. Every subway and train station will have a bike park that is very inexpensive.
With around 80 daily trains between Sapporo and Tokyo, Tohoku region is well serviced by the Shinkansen (bullet train). The train takes about 2 hours from Tokyo station and brings you to the heart of Sendai before continuing its journey north to Hokkaido. The west exit brings you out onto an extensive network of second story cat-walks that give the downtown a unique feel and vibrancy.
Sendai International Airport
The brand new Sendai International Airport is a world-class facility and is easily accessed from the city center in about 25 minutes by rail or car. Currently, most direct flights come from Korea, Taiwan or China. Connecting flights out of Haneda are frequent and the flight is usually cheaper than taking the Shinkansen.
jr east commuter rail line
Several commuter rail lines run from Sendai Station and will take you out and about Tohoku for relatively cheap. Commuter rail is convenient for daily commuting from outer parts of Sendai, or longer journeys to outlying cities such as Yamagata or Ishinomaki.
The Sendai Subway is the oldest subway system in Japan and is efficient, safe and clean. There are two lines: Namboku Line and the recently opened Tozai Line. The lines run north/south and east west and provide great access to most of Sendai city to include all of the major attractions such as the Zoo, the stadiums and downtown.
Sendai bus system
Sendai buses run frequently and on time as you would expect in any major Japanese city. There is also a dedicated line called Loople that will take tourist on a loop around Sendai to see many of the top attractions the city has to afford.