Crowds gathered at the city’s most famous intersection for a massive street party as police looked on.

While New Year’s in Japan is traditionally a quiet affair, with families watching the Kohaku Uta Gassen singing contest on TV or partaking in one of the holiday’s many rituals, some young Tokyoites prefer to see the New Year in with a bang, and for many that means attending “You Make Shibuya Countdown“.

The massive Coca-Cola-sponsored street party first began in 2016, and has been getting bigger and brighter every year, with a stage and live performances set up outside the Shibuya 109 department store and special countdown videos screened on the large digital billboards surrounding the famous scramble crossing. 

On the day of the 2018-2019 event, original Coca-Cola hats, glow bracelets, and other Coke goods were handed out for free in the area, and New Year’s revellers were happy to embrace all the in-your-face branded marketing by the international drinks giant, as it meant they got to enjoy a party on the streets which looked like this.

In the lead-up to the actual countdown, the streets around the scramble crossing began swelling with partygoers. JR East closed their Shibuya Station exit shutters from 11 p.m., while Tokyu Corporation shut a number of exits from 10 p.m. to help ease congestion.

Shibuya Ward Assemblyman Takumi Tanaka stopped by during the evening, and said there were more people in attendance than last year, and even more foreigners, which he said made up 80-90 percent of the crowd. He was happy to report that despite some jostling near the barriers set up by police to restrict entry and prevent overcrowding at the famous intersection, the congestion at the crossing was kept under control thanks to these crowd restrictions.

Police were out in force during the event, to ensure there was no repeat of the truck-tipping events and debauchery seen during Halloween. While there were several reports of theft and other minor incidents, including at least one arrest, no major issues were reported from the evening.

▼ The most dangerous shenanigans seen on the night were revellers climbing trees and lightpoles in the area.

While most of the New Year’s Eve action was centred around the famous scramble crossing, nearby streets like the one outside the Modi building were also swamped with crowds enjoying the massive street party.

▼ The countdown to midnight outside the Modi building.

The area outside the Shibuya 109 building had been set up by the “You Make Shibuya Countdown” organisers as a primary event space for the evening, where partygoers could enjoy live performances in the lead-up to midnight.

▼ The countdown to midnight outside the 109 building.

One special surprise for revellers on the night was this original “Thank you 2018!” movie battle between Mario and Bowser, which appeared at a number of venues, including above the Shibuya Station building, thanks to event supporters Nintendo.

Of course, the most coveted section on the night was the scramble crossing intersection itself, where partygoers were surrounded by digital billboards, adding to the party atmosphere.

▼ Scenes from the event were broadcast on national television.

▼ People at home could also watch the night unfold with the live cam at the scramble crossing.

The event was also screened live on social media platforms like Line and Twitter, where people gushed over the appearance of J-pop group Little Glee Monster on the digital billboards.

▼ And then, the countdown to midnight began in the middle of the scramble crossing.

▼ The New Year came with cheers from the crowd and digital fireworks on the giant screens.

With 67,000 attendees in 2016, 100,000 in 2017, and a reported 120,000 attendees in 2018, the You Make Shibuya Countdown is getting bigger and more popular every year.

And with a gaping hole in the market for a televised outdoor party event like those seen in New York, London and Sydney at New Year’s Eve, we have a feeling the You Make Shibuya Countdown might soon appear in the TV schedule to rival Kohaku Uta Gassen. Which would be a boon for Coca-Cola and its marketing team.

Source: Nikkan Sports via Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Twitter/@TIb_tter