Year Three of COVID-19 in Japan was a tale of two halves. Until the summer, a sense of cautious optimism prevailed as spirits were lifted by the growing leeway to mingle and travel in-country — a welcome relief after such a long period of "self-restraint."

This low-level positivity rapidly morphed into a veritable adrenaline rush as Japan’s borders creaked open and inbound tourism surged. With most restrictions lifted, the influx seemed to inspire a burst of fresh energy in Tokyo’s dining scene with a raft of new openings, special events and collaborations.

Rebirth of the new normal