Tokyo’s Shibuya Prohibits Public Drinking at Night (6/19 Update)

Update: The proposal to permanently ban drinking alcohol on the street at night in Shibuya passed on June 19th. It will be enforced from October 2024. As one of Tokyo’s premier nightlife districts, this could potentially end its reputation as one of Japan’s party hubs. This article will unravel the unfortunate progression of events that led to this stage and list some better ways to enjoy Japan’s famous drinking culture.

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy through them, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

*Updated on June 19, 2024, to reflect the passing of the proposal to ban street drinking in Shibuya at night.

Street Drinking to Be Banned in Shibuya and Shinjuku

Notorious for its unofficial street parties, Shibuya has become a hotspot for both Tokyoites and tourists to grab an alcoholic beverage to sip outdoors while taking in the buzzing nightlife.

While many are well-behaved, increasing crowds and a number of incidents have caused Shibuya to attempt to halt this behavior with a permanent ban on drinking on the street and other public places in designated areas between 6:00 pm and 5:00 am. These new laws will start from October 2024, just in time to thwart upcoming Halloween street parties.

Neighboring Shinjuku, known for its boisterous red light district of Kabukicho, is likewise planning a ban on outdoor public drinking, although this will be limited to the Halloween period only (for now).

Brewing Trouble: Halloween, Overtourism, and Street Party Culture

To Shibuya locals or anyone else familiar with the area at night, drinking bans are hardly a surprise. For Halloween 2023, Shibuya canceled all outdoor festivities and ran a campaign telling party-goers to stay away, followed up with a ban on outdoor drinking in designated public spaces between 6:00 pm - 5:00 am. This was intended to put a spanner in the works of the enormous and ever-growing outdoor Halloween parties in Shibuya. In a similar vein, New Year’s events and street drinking were prohibited on the night of December 31 to the morning of January 1.

While a disappointment to those who partied respectfully, concerned local residents, littered streets, and damaged property have made Shibuya’s war on outdoor drinking an unfortunate necessity. With incidents like a small parked truck being flipped over and a revving motorbike slamming into the back of a taxi, it’s no surprise that Shibuya wants to revamp its image by making its temporary alcohol ban on Halloween and New Year’s a more permanent fixture.

With outdoor drinking a part of Japanese culture, best seen in the beloved “hanami” cherry blossom viewing, Japan’s relaxed drinking laws have become known overseas. Tourists are making the most of this together with the weak yen, and with March 2024 recording the largest single-month number of tourists to Japan in history, drunken foreigners have become a typical sight in places like Shibuya. The Shibuya Meltdown Instagram account, which posts pictures of drunk people in Shibuya and surroundings, also became a viral sensation with over 356K followers.

So-called “overtourism” is now a hot topic in Japan, and popular destinations are facing pressure to combat surging crowds and poor behavior. This includes the installation of a net blocking off a convenience store with Mt. Fuji in the background, along with the introduction of restrictions and fines in Kyoto’s geisha district of Gion. We covered the aforementioned measures and a few more in another article.

Shibuya Street Patrols

Even those hoping to sneak in a street beer before the Shibuya drinking ban may still get a tap on the shoulder from the new “Shibuya Patrol,” who are currently out on the streets of Shibuya between 8:00 pm and 5:00 am. While there are currently no punishments, those brazenly drinking on the streets of Shibuya will be told to pick up their drinks and trash and move on.

Where Else to Drink and Party In Tokyo

For those still wanting to make the most of Tokyo's nightlife, hope is far from lost! Tokyo is still full of fantastic bars, clubs, restaurants, and other places to enjoy a drink and meet new people. There are “izakaya” Japanese-style pubs, the bizarre “snack” bars, “yakitori” fried chicken skewer joints, and plenty more to do in Tokyo at night. Or you could join a Shibuya bar hopping tour, where you’ll get to experience Shibuya’s drinking culture without irritating the locals.

Kanto Feature

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

tsunagu Japan Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter and we'll show you the best Japan has to offer!

Subscribe Now!
Get your Japan discounts here!

About the author

Steve Csorgo
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Steve currently lives in Niigata City. His passions include discovering local sake, reading, and traveling to as much of Japan as possible. Hot springs, historical sites, and untouched nature are some of his favorite things about Japan. He enjoys writing about traditional crafts, offbeat yet charming towns, and interesting local stories.
  • Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

Related Interests

Restaurant Search

Sign up to our free newsletter to discover the best Japan has to offer.