Saturday, January 03, 2009

Death by mochi - 2009 edition: now with additional death statistics!

Time for the annual Opinion Dominion New Year's post about the number of Japanese folk who have started the year in the most unfortunate way:
Tokyo Fire Department officials said Thursday that five elderly people had died and at least eight others had been hospitalized after choking on mochi rice cakes in the metropolitan area on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Is posting on this every year starting to test the limits of oddball funny? Oh well. I figure if it's good enough for the national Japanese press to report it, it's good enough to be repeated here. (It's not like I keep a chart on the wall, you know.) Other people do this too: here you can read of deaths reported from other parts of Japan.

If you are relatively new to this blog, you can read the reason why so many people choke on it in my earlier post here.

Actually, while Googling around the topic, I turned up this surprising figure from an article in October 2008:

The choking death last week of a schoolboy in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, has spotlighted a little-known fact in Japan: More than 4,000 people choke to death on food every year....

According to data compiled by the health ministry, 4,407 people died by choking in 2006. By age, about 85 percent were over 65. Only one that year was in the 10-to-14 age group.

By type of food, "mochi" pounded rice was the top culprit, followed by rice, bread and "okayu" rice porridge.

And you thought that fugu was the most dangerous thing to eat in Japan. (According to Wikipedia, it now only causes a handful of deaths per year, although many more hospitalizations than that.)

Update: sorry, but I see that the links to the Japan Today source for the 2009 stories do not work anymore, and only take you to the current day's page. Not sure I can fix that.

1 comment:

iy said...

Definitely continue the reporting of this important annual news! You're providing a great public service and advisory. :-)
If you're interested, I blogged about mochi and linked to this post in my blog post: