The incident occurred at a festival in Shiga Prefecture last week.

A 28 year-old man collapsed while participating in an onigiri speed-eating contest held at Hikone City in Shiga Prefecture on 13 November, after a number of rice balls became lodged in his throat. He was given medical attention immediately but it was revealed yesterday that the man died three days later in hospital.

The speed-eating contest was one of the events held at a “Friendship Festival” run by Higashibiwako’s Japan Agricultural Co-operative (JA) to help promote local agricultural products. According to JA, the competition was meant to be a chance for attendees to experience the taste of their local oumimai variety of rice. Fifteen people participated in the event, with each person given five rice balls and a time limit of three minutes in which to finish eating them.

The man collapsed on stage during the event after putting the fifth rice ball in his mouth. Doctors and medical staff were on the scene immediately to provide emergency assistance before he was rushed to hospital, where he died three days later, on 16 November.

The day after the festival was held, JA Higashibiwako posted a notice on their website, thanking the medical staff for their assistance and apologising to attendees for cancelling the afternoon’s stage events after the accident. Organisers refrained from posting details of the accident on their website out of respect for the family.

It was found that event organisers had given due consideration to the safety of participants during the onigiri speed-eating event, with tea made available for all those who took part. Organisers expressed their remorse over the unfortunate accident and have assured local citizens that they will continue to put the safety of attendees first at future festival events.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News via Hamusoku
Featured image: Flickr/Yukiko Matsuoka