Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan, is the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. It comprises five crosswalks spanning ten lanes of car and bus traffic. Each Halloween, this iconic location attracts thousands of revelers for vibrant celebrations.
A Different Approach This Year
However, this year is marked by a change in plans. The local government has set out to make this area one of the safest and is urging people not to celebrate Halloween at Shibuya Crossing. As reported by CNN on October 7, 2023, the leader of Shibuya City, an autonomous district in Tokyo, issued an official request to both domestic and international tourists. They are requested to maintain decorum and refrain from celebrating Halloween in the area from October 27 to October 31, 2023.
Concerns Over Overtourism
The notice highlights concerns related to overtourism, including property damage due to public drinking, conflicts with local residents, and the accumulation of discarded cans and bottles. It further notes that every Halloween, the vicinity of Shibuya Station becomes so densely populated that it is nearly impossible to engage in any activities.
Considering that Japan only fully reopened its borders to tourists in the fall of 2022, local authorities are apprehensive about a potential surge in tourists looking to revel in the area, surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. The notice explicitly addresses fears that without intervention, Tokyo could experience perilous overcrowding akin to what transpired in Seoul last year.
Reflecting on the Itaewon Tragedy
The Itaewon tragedy in Seoul, South Korea, serves as a stark reminder. In 2022, during Halloween celebrations in the Itaewon district, 156 people lost their lives due to a catastrophic incident involving a large crowd in a confined area.
Stringent Preventive Measures
To prevent a recurrence, Shibuya has implemented several stringent measures. The local government has prohibited both local residents and foreign tourists from drinking in the streets around Shibuya between 6:00 PM and 5:00 AM local time during the five-day period leading up to Halloween day and on Halloween day itself.
Restrictions on Alcohol Sales
Furthermore, liquor stores in the area have been advised not to sell alcohol during this time. Additional police and security personnel will also be deployed in the area.
Emphasizing That It’s Not a Party Venue
“Shibuya’s streets are not party venues,” emphasized Shibuya Mayor Ken Hasebe in a statement.
In summary, the world-famous Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan, renowned for its lively Halloween celebrations, will not host such festivities this year. Concerns over overtourism, property damage, and crowded conditions have prompted local authorities to impose a ban on Halloween celebrations in the area. This decision is aimed at ensuring safety and preventing mass gatherings that could pose risks to public health and security.