And the award goes to... Last night, a packed Hikarie Hall in Shibuya played host to the inaugural Love Tokyo Awards ceremony, which saw winners crowned in a total of seven categories: Restaurant, Café, Bar, Shop, Product, Activity and Face of Tokyo.
But before we get into the really exciting bit of announcing the winners, here's a quick recap of how the review process worked. Over the past few months, local experts from across the global Time Out network descended on Tokyo and joined our own ace team in picking out the very best of the capital. After countless sleepless nights and heated debates, our judges finally decided on the winners in the five major categories, while we here at Time Out Tokyo narrowed down the Activity and Face of Tokyo lists to, respectively, five and six final picks.
So, what were Tokyo's most loved eats, drinks, things and people in 2016? First, the coveted Best Restaurant award went to Kitafuku Ginza, an exhilarating crab purveyor that earned universal acclaim from our judges.
Next up was Best Bar, which was picked up by Bar Oak at the Tokyo Station Hotel. Our judges were particularly impressed with master Hisashi Sugimoto, who mixes up his signature Tokyo Station cocktails in a room that incorporates red bricks and wood in the décor, matching perfectly with the newly renovated station’s exterior.
Third in line was Best Café, which was awarded to green tea and wagashi specialist Higashiya. A tea salon that puts a fresh twist on traditional Japanese confectionery, it’s a spot relaxing enough for hours of lingering in busy Ginza.
Retail classic Isetan Shinjuku walked away with Best Shop – a bit of a surprise maybe, but certainly deserved for what is arguably the trendiest department store in Japan, also renowned for having its window displays created by leading artists.
Perhaps the biggest applause of the night was reserved for Tokyobike, the Yanaka-born bicycle specialist that's been knocking out simple, attractive rides since 2002 and was now honoured with a Best Product award.
Finally, our five Best Activities ranged from watching a sumo morning practise to exploring Tokyo's old-school alleyways, while Face of Tokyo – our picks of creative people who helped make the city a better place in 2016 – awards went to the likes of artist Takashi Murakami and musical phenomenon Sheena Ringo.
For the full list of winners, complete with comments from our team of judges, check out the Winners page over at the Love Tokyo Awards site. A big thank you to everyone who attended the ceremony last night, and congratulations again to all the winners!
The Love Tokyo Awards will be back even bigger and better in 2017, so stay tuned...