Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing is the busiest intersection in the world, with five crosswalks interlacing through 10 lanes of car and bus traffic.
But the local government would like it to be one of the safest, which is why they have asked people to refrain from celebrating Halloween there.
The leadership of Shibuya City – which is a self-governed district within Tokyo – has issued a formal request to both domestic and foreign tourists to mind their manners and not observe Halloween in the area from October 27-31.
“The damage caused by overtourism has become serious, resulting in property damage caused by drinking in the street, altercations with local residents, and littering of large amounts of empty cans and bottles,” reads the notice. “In addition, every year during Halloween, the area around Shibuya Station becomes so crowded that it is nearly impossible to move.”
Considering that Japan only fully reopened its borders to tourism in fall 2022, the city is concerned that the influx of tourists eager to party and celebrate in Tokyo will be even bigger than before the pandemic.
Halloween is popular with younger people in Japan. Rather than going trick-or-treating or visiting haunted houses, it’s seen as an opportunity to party and drink.
The Shibuya City notice specifically addresses concerns that, if people don’t take action, Tokyo could experience a dangerous crowd crush like the one that took place in Seoul last year.
In that tragedy, 156 people died in the trendy Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul on Halloween 2022 when crowds of revelers swelled in a narrow street.
Shibuya has taken several strong actions to try and prevent a similar situation.
Drinking in the streets around Shibuya will be banned between 6:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. during the five-day period leading up to and including Halloween, and liquor stores in the area have been encouraged not to sell alcohol during that time as well.
There will also be additional police and security guards deployed in the area.
“The streets of Shibuya are not party venues,” the city’s mayor, Ken Hasebe, said in a statement.