Halloween in Japan, Tokyo Style in Shibuya

Tokyo could very well be on the way to becoming the world’s number one Halloween spot. Japan is a country where the inhabitants are known for their shyness and “self-censorship” you can find some shocking creativity and a positive vibe in Tokyo around Halloween time. As the narrow streets fill up with revellers during the witching hour, you may even find yourself rubbing shoulders with an undead nurse or a living, breathing character from a Miyazaki film. The annual Halloween street party in and around Tokyo’s bristling Shibuya Crossing (said to be the world’s busiest intersection) is a lot of fun and great opportunity to make a cool video.

Two girls in pink bunny costumes
Halloween bunnies in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

This was my first time to shoot the Halloween street party around Shibuya Crossing. I knew I’d be zooming and tilting a lot to create a funky mood, so I’d need a long, parfocal lens. It had to be wide enough, too, in order to show the expanse of Shibuya and the throngs of people who’d shown up to show-off. It was going to be dark, so I’d need a cam that was good in low-light conditions. The venerable Sony PMW-200 fit that bill. The images from it aren’t as dreamy as those that come from larger sensor equipped cameras, but I wasn’t going for that bokeh look. The DSLR-style halloween street party videos I’d seen were just endless streams of people mugging for the camera to a dance beat. For me that kind of thing gets old fast. I wanted to show the detail as well as the big picture – the kinetic grandeur that is the Shibuya Halloween street party.

Shibuya Crossing, Halloween, Tokyo, Japan
Shibuya Crossing, Halloween, Tokyo, Japan

As Halloween was winding down in Japan, it was soon to start in other parts of the world. So I had to get the editing and delivery of the final video done quickly. I’d hoped the viewers in the West would be able to see how Halloween went down in Tokyo and then try to match it in their towns. The video was published shortly after midnight in Japan (about 1PM, EDT in the US). There was almost no grading or color correction done.

Video: Tokyo’s Dynamic Halloween Celebration in Shibuya Crossing

Tips for editing and publishing time-sensitive vids:

It’s a good idea to have a deadline for getting your video done even if there is none. Self impose one if you need to. This will keep you on-track and ensure your video gets published / on-air before the other guys. It’s usually the videos that go up first which generate the most buzz and get the most views.

Prep before the shoot as best you can. If using music or other elements, select them beforehand. Set up your project and get your timeline going! Pack light and take what you need. In this case, I had to carry everything on me as there was no turning back through the crowd if I had forgotten something (which I did!)

– I had every intention of bringing an on-camera light that would’ve made the faces of the costume-clad partygoers pop, but accidentally left it behind. There’s always next year.

Halloween in Japan – Shibuya Costumes

President Obama Mask
President Obama came to the street party
Girl in Kuchisake-Onna costume
Chucky from "Child's Play"
Chucky from “Child’s Play”
Crowd on Basketball Street
Crowd on Basketball Street
Girls with wigs
Some costumes were minimal
Man wearing costume of Miyazaki character
Just another face in the crowd
Gun Toting Costumer
Girls in zombie costumes
Zombie fun
King Tut
King Tut
Police looking on crowd gathered at Shibuya Crossing
Police looking on crowd gathered at Shibuya Crossing
Man in Jesus costume
Three girls in Annie costumes
Girls dressed as zombie brides
Zombie bride
Party girls with rainbow wigs
Party girls with rainbow wigs
No-Face character