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Tokyo's Shibuya mayor urges Halloween hype to go online amid pandemic

The Shibuya Ward Office is seen in this March 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Masaaki Shimano)

TOKYO -- With Halloween just around the corner, the mayor of the capital's Shibuya Ward -- a popular area known for its swarms of costumed youngsters flocking around the famed Scramble Crossing annually during the festivities -- called for people to take to the internet to enjoy this year's revelry amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    "In order to avoid the 'three Cs' (of crowded places, closed spaces and close contact with others) during the coronavirus crisis, I'd like people to think about the ways to celebrate Halloween," Shibuya Ward Mayor Ken Hasebe said during a press conference held at the ward office on Oct. 22.

    In recent years, Shibuya Ward has been haunted by a Halloween ruckus, with some visitors even arrested for being a public nuisance. The ward has instituted an ordinance to ban consumption of alcoholic beverages on the streets and at parks near Shibuya Station around the Halloween season.

    This year, the ward has requested 42 stores to refrain from selling liquor from 6 p.m. on Oct. 31 through 5 a.m. the following day. The ward will deploy security guards on the streets and remind people of the ban on street drinking and other rules. While the ward used to set up changing spaces for Halloween costume players and temporary bathrooms, they will not be available this year to discourage people from visiting the area.

    During the press conference, Mayor Hasebe introduced an array of alternative solutions to enjoy this year's Halloween while staying at home, including a costume contest and a problem-solving game to be held on the ward-authorized distribution platform "Virtual Shibuya" and an online festival featuring artists who call Shibuya their playground.

    "We hope these proposals will serve to promote efforts to create new values for Halloween," Hasebe said.

    (Japanese original by Shohei Kawamura, Tokyo Bureau)

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