Who doesn’t want to spend Halloween in Tokyo? Dressed up as your favorite anime characters, strolling the streets of the Japanese capital. However, authorities are urging tourists to stay away from a popular Tokyo district on Halloween.
Halloween in Tokyo: Tourists Urged to Stay Away form Shibuya
Halloween in Tokyo
As Halloween is right around the corner, preparations for the spooky festival are in full swing. From donning houses in scary decor to stocking up on candies, everyone is eagerly waiting for October 31st. However, a popular district in Tokyo, frequented by young Japanese and foreign tourists, Shibuya, officially requested both foreign and domestic visitors to avoid the district on Halloween. This request was made in light of the tragic event that happened in the Itaewon district of Seoul during Halloween festivities, in which a deadly crowd crush claimed the lives of 150 people.
Halloween in Tokyo – Statement by Mayor of Shibuya
The mayor of Shibuya, Ken Hasebe, addressing the festivities of Halloween in Tokyo said:
“We are extremely concerned that there could be a repeat of the Itaewon tragedy,”
Said the mayor, referring to Itaewon’s crowd crush of last October.
“Until last year, we just asked people to behave themselves at Halloween, but this year we are being bolder and saying to people, please don’t come.”
During the festivities of Halloween in Tokyo, its Shibuya Ward, transforms into a hub for boisterous festivities and celebrations. The area receives massive crowds during the celebrations and becomes quite packed. Shibuya’s famous scramble crossing is the go-to spot for younger generations especially and thousands of costume partiers gather there, making it almost impossible to move. The partiers have also caused several incidents in the past including theft and vandalism. In the year 2018, authorities arrested a group of people under the charges of overturning a small truck. Regarding Halloween in Tokyo’s Shibuya, Mayor Ken Hasebe said:
“Shibuya isn’t a venue for Halloween events…. Please don’t gather around Shibuya Station for Halloween purposes (during this period).”
Moreover, Japan only recently, completely opened its borders to tourism in the fall of 2022. Therefore, another concern weighing on the city is that the influx of tourists eager to party and celebrate Halloween in Tokyo will be bigger than ever. Therefore, the Shibuya authorities have not only taken action to protect the area but also prevent a similar crowd crush that happened in Itaewon.
Shibuya authorities banned drinking in the streets during the five-day period leading to and including Halloween between the time-slot of 6:00p.m to 5:00 a.m. The Liquor stores in the area have also been advised to not sell alcohol during the aforementioned time frame. Additional security guards and police will also be deployed in the area to keep check on the visitors.
Aside from overcrowding, recent Halloween gatherings in the district have been blighted by reports of pickpocketing, upskirt photography, groping, and alcohol-fueled fighting.
“Overtourism is a problem in Japan, but the situation in Shibuya is much more serious than that,” Mayor Hasebe said. “As mayor, it pains me to tell people not to come, but we’re doing this to prioritize safety.”
In the year 2019, about 40,000 people celebrated Halloween in Tokyo’s district of Shibuya and authorities fear that the number of revelers can go up to and above 60,000 this year unless countermeasures are put in place. Appealing to the commonsense of people, Hasebe added:
“We don’t want to overburden them with rules,” he said. “We’re saying that, yes, it’s OK to drink under the cherry blossoms during hanami, but not on a packed city street.”
The Shibuya authority is in the right to take such measures and fear another tragedy. Last year’s Itaewon tragedy is something the world does not need right now amid the Israel-Hamas war that is threatening to tear the world apart. the tragedy claimed the lives of more than underfed victims that were out for the first post-pandemic Halloween celebrations. As 100,000 people flocked to the nightlife district, a crowd crush followed, turning the jolly festivities into a tragic nightmare.
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