You are no longer welcome to celebrate Halloween in Shibuya.

Every Halloween, thousands of partygoers descend on the streets around Tokyo’s Shibuya Scramble Crossing for an unofficial celebration that’s becoming increasingly difficult to control.

In an attempt to curb incidents of vandalism and assault in the area at Halloween — and on the weekend leading up to it, when people also gather — Shibuya Ward introduced a public drinking ban in 2019. This came after a particularly dangerous Halloween in 2018, when a group of people tipped over a truck, forcing the governing authorities to take stricter action to control crowds.

This year, the ward is coming down even harder on the festivities, by flat-out asking people not to come to Shibuya for Halloween.

The request was made at a press conference held by Shibuya Ward Mayor Ken Hasebe today, where he said:

Please do not come to the Shibuya Station area for Halloween purposes during Halloween.”

Mayor Hasebe when on to explain why he is asking people to refrain from coming to Shibuya for Halloween, saying:

“Since the coronavirus was downgraded to a Class 5 disease [the same category as seasonal influenza], the number of visitors from overseas has increased significantly. The number of people drinking on the street has increased even more than before the pandemic. Another major factor is that street drinking has become even more entrenched in Shibuya than before the coronavirus.

He also expressed concerns about the potential for a fatal disaster like the one that occurred in Itaewon, South Korea on Halloweeen last year, where 159 people were killed and 196 people were injured.

He said: “I’m concerned that an accident like the one in Itaewon, South Korea, last year could happen at any time.” 

▼ The Center-gai area (pictured below during Halloween 2018) is particularly dangerous for crowds.

According to Mayor Hasebe, up until last year, Shibuya Ward had stated that although Halloween in Shibuya has no official organiser, they “would like people to enjoy Halloween while maintaining manners and morals.” This year, however, they have completely changed their policy, turning down that welcome by saying:

“This year, we would like to firmly tell the world that Shibuya is not an event place for Halloween.”

Mayor Hasebe made it clear that the message to stay away from Shibuya isn’t just directed at local residents but international visitors as well, noting that 70-percent of the attendees at last year’s Halloween event were foreigners. He said that it was a difficult decision to make, as mayor, to ask people to stay away from Shibuya at Halloween, but with safety being a top priority, it was unavoidable.

During the press conference, a slide was shown with the words “No events for Halloween at Shibuya” and “No drinking on the streets” from 6:00 p.m.-5:00 a.m. on 27-31 October. The notice also stipulated that “Drinking alcohol in public spaces is prohibited” during this period.

The ward is currently in talks with police and railway operators to enforce these rules, but the message this year is clear: Do not come to Shibuya for Halloween.

Sources: Livedoor News via Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Pakutaso
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