Saturday night was Halloween. Okay, no it wasn’t, but obviously all of the great parties for that occasion are on the week-end. If you can imagine that in Tokyo people seem to dress up in costumes on a regular basis for no good reason, they you will believe that Halloween in Tokyo (and especially in Shibuya) is something you gotta see.
With that being said, I had no idea that it was going to be like that. The company where I am working in Tokyo hosted a technology conference Saturday, and there are several people from different divisions around the world who came into town for it. At lunch I met one such person, who is in town for three days from California. She hadn’t had a decent Japanese meal yet, nor had she seen anything in the country aside from the taxi from the airport. I asked her if she wanted to change that this evening, and she agreed. Before the day was out we had collected a couple of other people who wanted to join us, and we headed to Shibuya.
For the uninitiated, Shibuya Crossing is something you have to experience if you come to Tokyo. It is possibly the busiest intersection anywhere in the world. The picture you see here is everybody crossing in every direction, as seen from the Starbucks second floor window. This was not taken at a particularly busy time. However I am told that there was a documentary that set up a camera to check, and at no point in a 48 hour period was nobody crossing the street when the lights permitted. It is across from Shibuya Station, and if you have ever seen a picture of Tokyo where it is BUSY AND HOPPING, this is likely where that picture was taken (although the entire city is pretty busy and hopping).
After a wonderful dinner (we just picked any old sushi restaurant and had an amazing meal – the best that either Joseline or Damien had ever had, although it was only just as good as every other sushi dinner I have had here) we walked around Shibuya watching people for a while, and then decided to drop into a standing bar that I was introduced to last week. It’s a nice place with a mix of locals and foreigners, and usually has sports on the large screen TV (tonight it was Manchester United over Stoke, although we didn’t stay to see the end of the match).
We met a bunch of interesting people… at first we were chatting with an eclectic group in costume – the guys were from Sweden and Japan, the woman from Singapore. I thought it was strange to run into three people together from three different countries… until i realized I was a Canadian hanging out with an American and a Frenchman. How appropriate indeed 🙂 Later we were joined by a priest and his friend (she refused to don her costume, although I have it on good authority that she had a cape in her bag). The priest was actually an architecture student from Austria, and his friend (the smallest full-grown woman I have ever had a conversation with) was from Spain. Again, really nice people. In fact now that I think of it, everyone that I met there was pretty nice 🙂
I discovered that here a LOT of people… not just the occasional one or two, seem to like pose for pictures. This group of girls (and the guy with the hood over his face) saw that I had a camera and they all struck a pose. I hadn’t (and didn’t speak to any of them, but they wanted me to take their picture, and I was happy to oblige them. As well there were SCORES of groups and individuals on the street were just posing everywhere to let others – complete strangers! – pose with them for pictures. I took a picture of Mario and Luigi (yes, THE Mario and Luigi of video game fame… ) because I I thought is was a clever and unique costume… until I realized that there were several dozen Luigis and even more Marios! What can you do, at least these two were the ORIGINALS 🙂
There were a lot of themes to the costumes. Firstly I should mention that it seems that the order of the day is SKIMPY for women of all ages here. Zombies, Brides (and especially zombie brides) were all around – as you can see from the picture. There were super heroes everywhere, a few ninjas and samurai, lots of Power Rangers, naughty nurses, and of course sexy maids. Speaking of sexy, there was no shortage of women and men in all manner of what could only be described as Bondage Wear, and frankly I saw some of the shortest skirts I have ever seen, as well as one woman who decided to leave the skirt at home and was simply walking around in a pair of panties that were milimetres from being a pure thong. I confess that the three of us were so surprised by that outfit that by the time we started discussing it we all realized that none of us had seen what the top of her costume was.
I was surprised by how many groups (gropes?) obviously coordinated their costumes, as the group of slain zombie brides who posed for this picture. They were far from the exception, there were hundreds such groups. I was truly amazed.
Now here’s the weird part about it, and what makes Tokyo one of the wildest cities that I’ve ever been to… I was in Shibuya a week ago, and while there weren’t quite as many or as varied costumes as there were tonight, there were still lots of people dressed up – I saw someone wearing a full Star Wars Storm Trouper outfit (complete helmet, not just a mask) last week dancing on one of the corners. I couldn’t get past Princess Leia’s line: ‘You’re a little short to be a Storm Trouper, aren’t you?’ He was about 5’5, but he was dancing and moving and having a grand old time… as was everyone!
Have a great week folks, and remember… as this IS the week of Halloween you will be seeing some strange things out there… but I’ll be seeing a lot of them here too, and I’ll try to photograph and blog about as many of them as I can. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! -M