While promoting tourism is usually part of a local politician’s job description, the mayor of one of Tokyo’s wards has taken a different approach: He’s pulling out the welcome mat. “This year we made it clear to the world that Shibuya is not a place for Halloween events“he declared Ken Hasebe, the mayor of one of the city’s best-known and bustling districts, before reporters this month at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. “Please do not come to Shibuya Station area for Halloween“.
The Shibuya district is taking unprecedented measures to discourage visitors in the days leading up to October 31. In addition to the “Don’t Come” campaign, public drinking will be banned in the area starting several days before Halloween, and the district’s 35 local stores will be urged to stop selling alcohol. About 300 private security guards have been hired and 150 city officials will assist in patrolling and enforcing the no-smoking and no-drinking ordinance, in addition to a large number of police officers.
Ken Hasebe, a former advertising executive who later founded a nonprofit street-cleaning organization before taking office as an independent, described how the once spontaneous outdoor celebration of elaborate homemade costumes in Shibuya had degenerated into something more like a giant outdoor frat party. “The situation is much more serious than simple excess tourism“, he claimed. “We’re talking a lot of abandoned trash, harassment arrests, voyeurism, and property damage.“.
What worries civic leaders most is the possibility of crowds overwhelming Shibuya’s charming but cramped bars, noodle restaurants and clothing stores. In the absence of extreme security, they warn that Shibuya is at risk of a crowd crushing disaster, similar to the incident that killed more than 150 people at Halloween celebrations in the South Korean capital last year.
This year, the number of people expected in the vicinity was going to be considerably higher, especially considering the adaptation of the “Shibuya Incident Arc” in the second season of Jujutsu Kaisen, which is currently broadcast. This arc presents an intriguing narrative, where a strange screen covers the entire Shibuya District, trapping civilians and sorcerers inside and generating the need for the appearance of Satoru Gojo to allow his release. This plot has sparked great interest, but also poses considerable security challenges for local authorities.
With the combination of safety concerns and the attraction of Jujutsu Kaisen fans, the mayor and authorities of Shibuya are taking strong measures to prevent Halloween from getting out of control and becoming a dangerous public health event.
Fountain: Esuteru Blog