Big Walk 2023 – Akihabara to Yurakucho

Ginza Renoir breakfast sandwich and coffee
A Renoir breakfast in Akihabara.

The Big Walk is something I do every year. I started in 1997. It has been an ongoing project of mine. 2023 was my twenty-fourth time doing it. I must admit I didn’t do it twice. Once was due to terrible weather and the other to illness. Anyway, this time, I went from Akihabara to Yurakucho.

What is Rohan Gillett’s Big Walk?

On New Year’s Eve 1997, my then-girlfriend and I saw the movie, Titanic in Shinjuku. After it finished, we had a few hours to kill before we went to her parent’s house for a party. We decided to walk to Tokyo Tower. Surely, it’ll only take an hour. It took much longer than expected. Please remember in those days, there was no GPS or smartphones.

Akihabara Chuo Street
It looked like autumn in Akihabara.

I think it took around two hours. But we enjoyed it. It was a great way to spend time together. We decided to make it a yearly thing. For two years on New Year’s Eve, we walked to Tokyo Tower.

For those two times, before going to the tower, we had lunch at a restaurant in Roppongi. But for the third year, we discovered it had closed, and nothing good was around. We decided to push on to Ginza.

Magokoro Tennyo
Magokoro Tennyo at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi.

From that time on, Ginza was our destination. We modified our walking route, though. Instead of leaving from Shinjuku, we decided to do the entire Yamanote line! We would do a new station each year.

As you might know, the Yamanote Line has thirty stations! Now we’ve done most of them. Only a few are left. Our starting point is getting closer to Yurakucho/Ginza each year. It’ll be over soon. What will be our next project? My wife and I are discussing that now.

How was the 2023 Big Walk?

Our morning began badly. We looked outside and saw it was raining. That wasn’t a good sign. Never mind, we packed our umbrellas and headed out. We headed out to our Akihabara Station starting point.

Owariya soba shop line
People lining up for Owariya's toshikoshi soba.

For breakfast, we chose Renoir. It’s a great cafe. I’ve been to many of its branches. They have always been spacious. Plus, its breakfasts are cheap!

I had the B set. It was a ham and egg toasted sandwich with soup for ¥130. That seems cheap, right? Well, kind of. You need to buy a drink, but there aren’t morning discounts for those. They are at regular prices.

Nihonbashi Giraffe statue art
A giraffe in Tokyo?

Our breakfast got us into a great mood for our Big Walk! We started around 11 am, and Akihabara was busy. There were many people on the streets. I guess they were there getting their anime and manga needs!

Anyway, the route to Ginza/Yurakucho was easy. All we needed to do was walk along Chuo Street. There was no chance of us getting lost. Except for a few bends in the road, the route was straight.

Mikimoto jewellry store display
Mikimoto jewellry store display.

In the end, it was a great day. It was probably our most enjoyable walk yet. The weather might have started bad, but ended up being superb. We even checked out some backstreets. There was interesting stuff to see. See some of them in the photos!

Nihonbashi bridge
The famous Nihonbashi.

Highlights of the Big Walk?

  • Akihabara – Electric Town, as it’s nicknamed. One of its surprises was the ginkgo trees. They still had their beautiful yellow leaves.
  • Owariya – This is a soba restaurant between Akihabara and Kanda. It was established in 1923. When we passed it, people were already lining for toshikoshi soba.
  • Magokoro Tennyo – This is a statue of the Goddess of Sincerity. It is a beautiful piece of art. You can find it in the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi department store.
  • Nihonbashi – This is a historic bridge. It was the official starting point of Japan’s Edo-period five major roads.
  • Keiya Udon and Soba Shop – This was the end of our 2023 Big Walk. Mr. Kikuchi runs it. He makes great food at a reasonable price. I recommend his curry udon!
Wako Department Store
Wako department store in Ginza.

How long was our walk?

We walked about four kilometers. It took us about one hour.

Keiya Udon and Soba Shop
The end of the Big Walk - at Mr. Kikuchi's udon/soba shop.

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