CONTRIBUTED BY JANNINE MYERS
I was at a Japanese community center some time ago, when a Japanese lady whom I had just been introduced to asked me what my blood type was. Now ordinarily I would think this was an odd question, but since I’ve been asked the same question once or twice before I wasn’t overly surprised. I did leave the center however, determined to find out why some Japanese people are so curious about blood types.
I started by asking a few Japanese friends and they all agreed that blood types are kind of like star signs; each blood type provides a sort of horoscope prediction of personality traits, both good and bad. An article published on japanvisitor.com categorizes the traits of each blood type as follows:
Trendsetter; loyal; passionate; self-confident; independent; vain; jealous
[Famous O’s include: Queen Elizabeth II, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Liam & Noel Gallagher, Paul Newman]
Calm; patient; sensitive; responsible; overcautious; stubborn; unable to relax
[Famous A’s include: Adolf Hitler, George Bush, Senior Soseki Natsume, Ringo Starr, Britney Spears]
Individualist; dislike custom; strong; optimistic; creative; flexible; wild; unpredictable
[Famous B’s include: Akira Kurosawa, Paul McCartney, Mia Farrow, Leonardo Di Caprio, Jack Nicholson]
Cool; controlled; rational; sociable; popular; critical; sometimes standoffish; indecisive
[Famous AB’s include: Jackie Chan, Marilyn Monroe, John F Kennedy, Mick Jagger, Alain Prost]
Now I realize that the zodiac signs are a legitimately valued forecasting measure for some people, so I understand the appeal of blood types also, but I wonder if the fascination in these types of horoscopes is far more pervasive in Japan. I read in a Seattle Times article that Japan’s largest book distributor, Tohan, claimed that four of the top ten best selling books in 2008 were books about blood types and how they determine personalities.
In the same article, the author claims that blood types are used by various Japanese organizations, for various reasons including the following: matchmaking agencies use blood types to determine compatibility between prospective dating partners; some kindergartens organize groups of children according to blood type; the women’s national softball team has used blood types to establish individualized training techniques; and some companies apparently use blood types to help determine the allocation of work assignments.
Further internet research also revealed that many anime and manga authors like to mention on their websites the blood type of their characters. Even former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso seemed to think that public knowledge of his blood type would help people more easily identify with, or understand him better; his blood type is noted on his web profile.
Other interesting items I came across on the internet were google images of various products available in Japan which are connotative of blood type. For example, you can buy clothing items which advertise your blood type; you can buy coffees that have been packaged and prescribed specifically for your blood type; and dare I say it, you can even buy condoms that are labeled with the different blood types.
Well, there you have it, it would appear that in Japan, there is after all a fairly prevalent interest in blood types. Again, this is just another one of those quirky little things to learn about, so if you feel you have gained nothing from this post, I hope at least you won’t respond how I did the first time a Japanese person eagerly asked me what my blood type is – “Huh?”