Shibuya Cancels New Year’s Eve Countdown Event, Implements Public Drinking Ban Again

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Tokyo’s Shibuya district has announced it will cancel its annual New Year’s Eve countdown event in front of Shibuya Station this year and implement a public drinking ban in the area due to concerns over crowd control and safety.

The Shibuya Countdown Executive Committee decided to cancel the popular countdown event “in view of the increased number of visitors since the summer” and the difficulty of ensuring security. Shibuya Ward will also ban public drinking on the streets from 6 p.m. on December 31 to 5 a.m. on January 1 and request that local shops refrain from selling alcohol during this period. Similar restrictions were also in place to curb the Halloween drinking crowd last month.

In addition, the giant video screens surrounding the iconic Shibuya Scramble intersection will go dark at 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve rather than the typical midnight countdown.

The measures are aimed at preventing overcrowding and potential accidents after Shibuya saw an influx of Halloween revelers in recent years, some of which resulted in violence and criminal behavior. The deadly crowd crush disaster in Seoul last October likely also factored into the decision.

So while Shibuya has been a popular spot for New Year’s Eve gatherings and countdown celebrations in the past, allowing pedestrians to pack into the scramble crossing, this year will see a much quieter and restricted celebration in the neighborhood.

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