Shibuya's Halloween bash isn't an official gig, it's more of a wild gathering that just happened.
The Halloween fest in Shibuya kicked off unofficially in the early 2010s. Initially, it was all chill and fun.
Initially, The people gathered by SNS, like Twitter.
Folks would show up in costumes, snap some pics, and the city was cool with it, even providing changing booths and restrooms for the costumed crowd.
But as the years rolled on, the crowd got bigger, especially among the young and the tourists. Come Halloween, Shibuya's streets would be swamped with people, and the famous Scramble Crossing would buzz with costumed revelers.
Things got heated, with instances like cars getting flipped over, making headlines the next day. It's been a bit of an issue in recent years.
However, following a major fatal incident in Korea's Itaewon last year during Halloween, the guards are up this year.
In 2023, banners proclaiming "Shibuya is not a Halloween event" are hung around Hachiko Square. The city is also making moves to keep visitors at bay during the Halloween weekend, with banners around town banning booze and loud chats.
The Streets Are Packed, Walking is a Mission
Shibuya’s Halloween fest started seeing noticeable crowds around 2011 or 2012, especially around the famed Scramble Crossing, which would be overflowing with people. In 2014, with Halloween falling on a Friday and the rise of social media, a lot more folks flocked to Shibuya. The Center Street was jam-packed till the cops had to step in.
Come Halloween, Shibuya’s streets are flooded with costumed youngsters and tourists, especially around Shibuya Station and Center Street, making walking quite the challenge due to the crowds. This situation is a serious headache for the local shopkeepers and residents. The managing director of the Shibuya Center Street Promotional Association is ramping up the concern, saying this could lead to a “major disaster.”
Shibuya Center Street Promotional Association's Chairman, Hisayuki Ono, vented his frustration by saying, "This is not Halloween. This is a perverted costume parade," which sparked a buzz mainly on the internet.
Last Year, There Was Even a Car-Flipping Incident and Arrests
Shibuya's Halloween has always been a magnet for massive gatherings, engulfing the entire town in a festive aura. However, Halloween 2018 witnessed a darker side when a group of youngsters flipped over a light truck. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police identified 15 men aged between 17 and 37 suspected to be involved, arresting four of them.
— FASHIONSNAP (@fashionsnap) October 31, 2015
To handle the crowd control and ensure safety, a squad known as the "DJ Police" emerged on the scene. DJ Police, calling out instructions from atop their vehicles and managing pedestrian traffic at crosswalks, played a crucial role in maintaining order. Especially on Halloween, as the foot traffic surged around 4 PM, making it almost impossible to move around the entrances of Center Street, the police, armed with speakers, guided the pedestrians to keep things flowing smoothly.
Shibuya Halloween 2023, A Downscaled Affair
The aura around Shibuya's Halloween 2023 is one of downsizing, reflecting concerns stemming from a tragic incident that unfolded last year in Itaewon, Seoul. Shibuya Ward Mayor Ken Hasebe expressed grave concerns, stating that a similar incident like the one in Seoul is not beyond the realm of possibility. He urged people to steer clear of the vicinity of Shibuya Station, particularly if Halloween festivities were their main draw.
In a bid to deter crowds, Shibuya Ward has sealed off the iconic Hachiko Statue during the Halloween period, exerting efforts to prevent gatherings around Shibuya Station.
Furthermore, banners with a clear message - "Do not come to Shibuya" have been displayed, as part of a broader initiative to mitigate Halloween crowding. In fact, there's a sharing of information on routes and strategies to avoid the Shibuya hustle during Halloween. All these measures align with the broader goal of downsizing the scale of Shibuya's Halloween celebration to ensure safety amidst the festivities.
While specific details regarding traffic regulations are not confirmed, it's anticipated based on past data that areas such as the Shibuya Station front Scramble Crossing, Dogenzaka, Center Street, and Bunkamura Street may be subject to traffic control measures. The vehicular access is likely to be restricted during the peak crowd hours, roughly from 18:00 to 24:00. Additionally, post 25:00, police patrols have been reported as a usual practice in previous years to ensure order and safety.
Shibuya Ward has put a prohibition on alcohol consumption in public places during the Halloween period. Specifically, from October 27 to November 1, alcohol consumption is prohibited during certain hours and in designated areas, primarily during the evening and early morning hours. This measure is aimed at maintaining order and minimizing any potential disruptions or unruly behavior that may arise from alcohol-induced revelries during this festivity-packed period.