Shibuya, the Tokyo ward known for its skyscrapers, fashion districts and Hachiko, the loyal dog who waits there forever for his master’s return, also has quite a reputation for celebrating Halloween.
And why not? While it is not a traditional Japanese holiday, the celebration involves fantasy, fun and costumes - especially endearing to the many urban Japanese (and visitors) who love cosplay.
After all, the virtual home of cosplayー not just on Halloween but all year round ー is in Shibuya’s Harajuku neighborhood!
This year for the second time, the city is discouraging in-person gatherings and taking the party online for a virtual Halloween. Even the online version is worth it, though.
Shibuya is A Magnet
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween in Shibuya was among the most colorful celebrations anywhere.
It gathered so many people in a big, open street party. Cosplay lovers and fans of pop culture took advantage of the opportunity to show off their creativity and costumes ー to great effect, as many revelers gathered to enjoy Halloween appearing as their favorite characters and enjoy people watching.
Even those who have never visited Shibuya might have seen it’s famous scramble crossing. At every opportunity, especially national soccer games and New Year events, people are drawn to this iconic spot and go wild. Its big, wide intersection with lots of giant screens plays the latest news, game results and music as a microcosm of young living goes on below.
Yet with scale, sometimes came also the troubles of gathering too many people in one place. Along with cosplay and the creativity, there were large and loud crowds, street drinking and roat littering, sometimes even making the local news. (And by the way, when the partying is done, unlike any other city, overnight revelers actually stay to help pick up all the trash.)
At the same time, Halloween in Shibuya is far from the Western concept of trick or treat. And candy or other sweets are not a factor.
So, online ideas were floated in 2020, and embraced to virtually recreate the best of Shibuya Halloween.
Virtual-Shibuya and Halloween Event
Aside from being a center of youth culture, fashion and cosplay, Shibuya is one of the most hi tech sections of Tokyo. Virtual Halloween in Shibuya was the ideal solution.
Moreover, under the authority of Shibuya ward government, KDDI, one of the three major telecommunications companies in Japan, started a public-private project: “Shibuya city” in virtual space. It was developed to enhance the charm of Shibuya as a center of culture based on the 5G, 5th generation mobile communications system.
With the pandemic continuing to spread in 2020, the Shibuya city government asked people not to gather, fearing it would lead to a huge increase in new COVID-19 cases. Rather than coming to Shibuya, they invited everyone to join a Halloween event in Virtual Shibuya under the theme of #StayVirtual.
Great guests and performers, such as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, helped make the 2020 virtual party a great success. The organizers reported 400,000 people joined the Halloween event last year.
In 2021, although the number of cases are much lower, they are making the same request - hoping the pandemic will not surge again.
What’s On Offer in 2021?
This year, there are many great guests again.
One of the guests to watch out for is Atarashii Gakkou no Leaders/ ATARASHII GAKKO! (New Leaders of Schools). They are a new generation dance performance group, perform October 31 live from 3:00 P.M. JST with repeat performances at 6:00 and 7:30 P.M.
Dress up in your favorite cosplay and join the party!
How to Join the Event ?
You can join with your smartphone, tablet or PC.
① Download cluster app.
③ Open cluster app, and create your account.
④ Choose your avatar, and you can join.
① Download cluster on your PC.
②~④ are the same as smartphone.
Official Explanation How to Join
※Only in Japanese
So, while Tokyo revelers still need to be cautious and avoid large face-to-face events for a little bit longer, technology is offering a more level playing field for revelry ー with new styles of entertainment.
Wherever you are, whatever your age, stay safe from COVID-19 and join the Halloween events in ‘Virtual Shibuya’ from your home!
Author: Simon Kagaya