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What is your blood type?

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This is the first question that a Japanese lady will ask you!  Some 90% of Japanese know their blood type.  Korea is the other country where people are obsessed with blood types.

So, yes, the Japanese are convinced that your blood type is a sure and sound indictor of your personality, temperament and compatibility with others.  They talk about it all the time.  It is hard to tell whether it is just cute conversation, or whether they really believe it.


Most outsiders consider this obsession with blood types to be just plain nonsense, equivalent to the prevalence of astrology in women’s magazines in the West.  Indeed, there is no medical or scientific foundation for the theory.  Blood type analysis is widely discredited because of its unsavoury links to German and Japanese theories of racial superiority. 

I am Type A, the most common blood type in Japan.  But when I arrived in Japan, I did not know it.  So, on the occasion of a regular blood test, I asked my doctor.  “2000 yen, thank you very much, sir!”.  So much for Japanese courtesy.

When I told Watanabe-san, she replied “I am very disappointed”, and did not speak to me for a few days.  She had figured that, with my extrovert personality, I must be a Type O.  Finally, she convinced herself that there must have been a mistake in the blood test.  She had to, because Japanese believe that genetics and biology determine people’s behaviour.

There are many descriptions of blood types.  According to an article on www.japanvisitor.com, Type O is the warrior (like Queen Elizabeth II and John Lennon), Type A is the farmer (like me), Type B is the Hunter (like Akira Kurosaw and Jack Nicholson), and Type AB is the humanist (like Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy).  The advantages and disadvantages of different blood types are reported below from www.lastfm.jp website. 

The current blood type fad dates back to the 1970s thanks to a book by Masahiko Nomi, which achieved massive success, even though he is a lawyer with no medical training.  Blood type analysis now features in best seller books, women’s magazine, television shows and daily newspapers.  Authors and creators of anime, manga and video game characters often identify the blood types of characters.  There is a Korean romantic comedy called “My Boyfriend is TypeB”!  You can even buy blood type chewing gum, soft drinks, calendars and condoms!

Some companies used blood types in evaluating job applicants, much like the French use hand writing in recruitment analysis.  Matchmaking agencies do blood type compatibility tests.  Children at some kindergartens are divided by blood type.  It’s got to the point where some people are worried about blood type harassment, known as “bura-hara” in Japanese. 

Should I, a rational sensible white man, be worried about my blood type?  Indeed, I should.  Other famous Type As include Adolf Hitler, George Bush Senior, Soseki Natsume, Ringo Starr, Britney Spears and former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso! 

Advantages and disadvantages of different blood types

Type A

Advantages: obedient, careful, sympathetic, empathetic, self-sacrificing, polite, willing to compromise, honest, loyal

Disadvantages: worries a lot, emotional, weak-willed, indecisive, introverted, anti-social, wishy-washy, nervous

Type B

Advantages: cheerful, outgoing, optimistic, adventurous, active, sensitive, kind

Disadvantages: forgetful, undecided, disorganized, noisy, spontaneous, prone to exaggeration

Type AB

Advantages: sensitive, proud, diplomatic, discriminating, easy-going, sympathetic, efficient, learns quickly

Disadvantages: short-tempered, complains, dependent, moody, brooding

Type O

Advantages: confident, strong-willed, judgmental, dedicated, self-deterministic

Disadvantages: workaholic, insecure, emotional, stubborn, uncompromising, cold personality, over-confident, self-centered