Just like Halloween, the New Year’s party is over in Shibuya.

As we approach the mid-point of December, it’s time to start fine-tuning your plans for New Year’s Eve, but if you’re going to be spending the night in Tokyo, one of the city’s traditionally biggest party neighborhoods doesn’t want you celebrating in the streets.

Shibuya, the downtown Tokyo neighborhood world-famous for landmarks such as the Shibuya Scramble intersection and statue of faithful dog Hachiko, will be banning public consumption of alcohol in the area around Shibuya Station on New Year’s Eve, starting at 6 p.m. The prohibition will be in effect until 5 a.m. the following morning, New Year’s Day, and there will be an increased police presence in the area as well. The ward is also asking that “kiosks, convenience stores and retailers” in the area refrain from selling alcohol during the period.

The Shibuya Ward government has cited concerns about overcrowding-related accidents, and while the 2022 Halloween celebration crowd crush in Seoul that resulted in the deaths of 159 people wasn’t specifically mentioned, it’s likely influenced the decision. Another almost-certain factor is Shibuya’s recent attempts to clean up its image after becoming Tokyo’s de-facto street partying center at Halloween, with uncharacteristic-for-Japan levels of crime and mayhem accompanying the widely inebriated costumed revelry, which led to a rather unwelcoming public awareness campaign this year.

Shibuya is discouraging even sober on-the-street celebrations, cancelling a planned countdown-to-midnight event with the statement “In view of the increased number of visitors since the summer, the Shibuya Countdown Executive Committee has canceled the Shibuya Countdown Event in front of Shibuya Station because of the difficulty of ensuring safety and security at the event.” Even if you just wanted to snap a cool photo of the Shibuya Scramble as the clock strikes 12, you’ll be out of luck, as the ward has also requested that the giant video screens on the skyscrapers that ring the intersection go dark from 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

It’s all a far cry from just a few years ago, when Shibuya was actively attracting people to the neighborhood on New Year’s Eve by shutting down the Scramble to cars so more people could pack it, but that’s the world we’re living in in 2023/2024.

Source: Shibuya, FNN Prime Online via Livedoor News via Otakomu
Top image: Wikipedia/Benh
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