National

Shibuya readies for Halloween party throngs

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

To avoid turmoil near JR Shibuya Station when it is flooded with partygoers over Halloween, the Metropolitan Police Department will for the first time dedicate two nearby streets to pedestrians only from Friday through Monday, depending on traffic conditions.

Roughly 90 events will be held in Shibuya on Halloween night.

According to reports, the two streets subject to vehicle restrictions include one stretching from the Shibuya scramble crossing some 270 meters toward Dogenzaka past the Shibuya 109 fashion emporium, and another branching from 109 to the Dogenzaka 2-chome intersection near the Tokyu Department Store.

The Shibuya scramble crossing will not be closed to vehicles due to its high volume of traffic.

“By regulating vehicular traffic, we’d like pedestrians to enjoy Halloween more safely,” said a police official.

The official said peak congestion will come on Saturday and Sunday, and hundreds of riot and other police forces will be positioned around the station area from Friday.

Toshiro Kimura, organizer of the Zombie Party Halloween event, said he was surprised to learn about the traffic curbs in light of recent backlashes against Halloween.

“There are people demanding that Halloween be banned in Tokyo, and many people support that idea,” said Kimura, referring to celebrity Hakase Suidobashi, who said in a news variety show earlier this month that Halloween should not be celebrated in a busy metropolis like Tokyo.

“There have been cases of groping in Shibuya on Halloween night, and that’s why not everyone is up for celebrating,” Kimura said.

Last year’s Zombie Party drew 2,268 people, and Kimura said the event, to be held this Friday, Saturday and Monday, is one of the biggest in Shibuya.

Kimura said up to 2,000 participants are expected to parade from Aoyama to Shibuya dressed in zombie costumes and makeup.

“The traffic restrictions will be a great help for holding our event,” said Kimura.

“But opening up the streets to pedestrians could further increase the risk of some people engaging in misconduct. We must all be very careful regarding security so we can continue running Halloween events,” he said.

The Shibuya Tourist Association is also planning a parade — though it’s based on fashion, not the living dead.

“We planned the parade to suggest a new, cleaner way of celebrating Halloween, without wearing extreme costumes or getting overly excited, but rather by dressing better than usual,” said Kyoko Hori, spokeswoman of the association organizing the parade, titled Off Halloween.

The roughly 50 young girls who paraded through the Shibuya district on Oct. 8 will be making a return on Halloween night to ask partygoers to act safely, holding signs that say “No Trouble!”

In addition to congestion, another big Halloween headache has been the tons of litter left in the wake of the parades.

“Halloween is not an excuse for littering,” said Hori.

“We prepared three garbage areas in the station area last year. There will be four this year,” said Hiroyuki Dozono, public manager of the Shibuya Ward Office, adding that there will be staff keeping their eyes on the revelry.

“People living in other parts of Japan and overseas are really fascinated by how Halloween is celebrated in Shibuya. I hope it will continue to remain as exciting as it is now. We should all be on our best behavior to accomplish that,” said Kimura.

“I don’t want to see negative news reports after Halloween,” he said.