Medicine: The Secret Still

Kozo Ohishi, 46, went home to Pippu (pop. 8,600) in northern Japan last week, celebrating with proud sobriety the end of a 25-year binge during which he "never touched a drop."

Ohishi, only 19 when he suffered internal injuries in a traffic accident, seemed to have made a full recovery after surgeons patched up his torn stomach and intestines. But by 1934, when he was working as the village well digger, Ohishi found that he felt flushed and giddy, and his head got heavy ("like a sake hangover") soon after he ate bread or potatoes. Friends twitted him for secret drinking. In...

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