Seventy-four people who drank to excess while viewing cherry blossoms were taken to hospitals for acute alcoholic poisoning in Tokyo in nine days, the largest number in five years.
Seventeen developed serious symptoms that doctors say require hospitalization. Thirty-nine were in their 20s and 12 were in their 30s. Five were under the legal drinking age of 20.
“Young people often drink more than they can handle due to limited experience, feeling expansive and uninhibited in the merry ambience of cherry blossom viewing,” said an official at the Tokyo Fire Department.
The figure was for a period from March 31, when meteorological officials said cherry blossoms bloomed in Tokyo, through 4 a.m. on April 8.
Every spring, Japanese admire cherry blossoms throughout the nation, many over food and alcohol while sitting under the trees on blankets, even well into the night on weekdays.
Last year, there were only 14 people taken to hospitals during the initial nine-day period because visitors to see cherry blossoms were asked to refrain from drinking and many cherry-viewing events were canceled due to the Great East Japan Earthquake.
This year, many people suffered acute alcoholic poisoning on April 1, a Sunday, April 6, a Friday, and April 7, a Saturday, when the weather was fine.
The Tokyo Fire Department is asking people to drink moderately and not to coerce others into drinking at cherry blossom viewing parties.
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