Tokyo’s Shibuya was once the center of raucous Halloween celebrations. But revelers are about as welcome this year as a box of healthy raisins in an elementary schooler’s trick-or-treat candy haul.
For the past decade, Tokyo’s youth has flocked to the district’s streets to drink, party and gawk at costumed zombies, Marios and Pikachus. But Shibuya no longer wants any part of it. This year, it is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an information campaign aimed at dissuading people from coming at all. "No events for Halloween on Shibuya streets,” proclaim posters plastered across the railway station; Shibuya Mayor Ken Hasebe has taken to speaking to the foreign press to get his message across.
It is quite the contrast from years past. In 2019, those same posters read "Let’s make Halloween a part of Shibuya to be proud of,” encouraging good manners while having fun. Lurking in the background, of course, is the specter of Itaewon, a similarly hip Seoul neighborhood where nearly 160 people were tragically killed in a crush during Halloween weekend in 2022. Tokyo has had its own brushes with Halloween disaster; two years ago, a man dressed as the Joker stabbed another on a train and attempted to kill others by starting a blaze. It is a miracle no one died.