Tokyo Shibuya ward’s cryptic video yelling at foreigners to “STAY AWAY”!” for Halloween causes more harm than good
The official X/Twitter account of the Shibuya ward in Tokyo, Japan uploaded a video on October 17 warning the public not to celebrate Halloween 2023 in Shibuya and informing people of the bans on public drinking which will be in place in the area from October 27 to October 31. Both a Japanese and English version were posted, but the English video seems to be blowing up for all the wrong reasons.
Shibuya is known as one of liveliest and most frequently visited areas of Tokyo, it’s especially known for its nightlife and youth culture. In recent years, large-scale public Halloween celebrations involving drinking and reckless behavior have become a growing problem for the ward. In order to prevent the formation of dangerously dense crowds and damage to public property on Halloween, Japan has decided to take all measures possible to stop people from going to party in Shibuya this year.
As part of the campaign, the ward shared an informative warning video on social media to spread word of the bans on partying and drinking in Shibuya which will be in place from October 27 to October 31. Although the videos shared to Japanese residents and foreigners are essentially meant to convey the same message, the English video suffers from some very badly broken English, and while frankly quite hilarious, the video has unfortunately caused a counter-productive effect among non-Japanese people.
To begin with, the video opens with a very crude “STAY AWAY! FROM SHIBUYA.” while the Japanese subtitles translate more closely to something like “Let’s steer clear from Shibuya!” This in itself has done a big part in making the video get interpreted as discriminatory against foreigners.
What follows is straight up confusing, though, as the video menacingly warns that, “You can’t choose how your action will affect others” and “You can’t choose to be a victim or assailant.” The Japanese behind this actually goes along the lines of “Your actions can lead to someone getting hurt” and “Self-centered acts can lead to accidents,” likely meant to remind people that, although there’s nothing wrong with going out to party in itself, contributing to the formation of large, uncontrolled crowds in an already densely populated area can, in fact, be dangerous and cause accidents. Some of the caution this time around is no doubt caused by the relatively recent crowd crush incident in Itaewon, Seoul that took the lives of 150 people.
However, all of this important context is lost in translation in the video ironically meant to inform people, with even the duration of the drinking ban being mistakenly conveyed as lasting from “18:00 to 29:00.” Above all, the way it seems to crudely ask foreigners to just stay away has been taken with some offence by a portion of non-Japanese people. Based on interactions with the original post, some have even expressed the will to potentially not oblige with the bans being put in place.