"Hanami" merrymakers hit by alcohol poisoning
As cherry trees around the country spring into full bloom, so does the wild merrymaking that usually goes on beneath them.
On Friday, 55 people suffering from acute alcohol poisoning were rushed to hospitals by ambulance from flower-viewing, or "hanami," parties throughout Tokyo, according to the Fire Department of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
According to the department, an average of 10 people a day have been transported by ambulance to hospitals for treatment of festive overdrinking since March 27, when cherry blossoms made their first appearance of the year in Tokyo.
But on Friday night, with cherry trees entering into full bloom, larger groups of people crowded into such flowerviewing spots as Ueno Park in Taito Ward, the department said.
Of the 55 who were taken to hospitals, 18 were in serious condition and had to be hospitalized, the department said.
"People tend to drink too much when they're outdoors because of the relaxed atmosphere of being outside," said one official at the department.
"Please don't empty a glass of alcohol in one go or force other reluctant people to do so because it can be dangerous," the official said.
Japan Times, April 5, 1998