In the West, we’ve got the 12 signs of the Zodiac (or 13 if you’re up on the latest new age gibberish – Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer!). In China, they’ve got an animal for each year. Japan has something a little different – blood types that determine personality.
Lots of people in Japan believe that your blood type – A, B, AB, or O – determine the characteristics of your personality. People will often ask you your blood type and after you answer, they’ll nod knowingly as if to say, ‘I knew it.’ It’s pretty odd but kind of interesting at the same time.
What’s Your Type?
Blood Type A – Most of the people of Japan are blood type A (or so I’m told). This personality type is serious and meticulous about details. This may be a crank theory of personality, but that sounds pretty right to me all the same. A folks have a spark of creativity but usually a reserved, patient personality. Negative characteristics include stubbornness and an inability to relax.
Blood Type B – B people are passionate but also difficult. They suffer from wagamama (わがまま – ‘selfishness’). They tend to be individualistic, optimistic and sometimes a little on the wild side. People here always tell me that this blood type is rare in Japan but prevalent in France.
Blood Type AB – I’ve always been told that AB people are usually somewhere on the creative-insane continuum, often with artistic tendencies, but my research says things like, ‘cool, controlled, and rational.’
Blood Type O – O is what the Japanese call ozappa (おざっぱ – ‘careless, unserious’… no relation to Frank). Although they don’t finish their projects and are horribly disorganized, they’re also energetic, social and fun to be around.
What’s my blood type? I’m not telling – you’ve got to get to know me better first. Every time someone here asks me about my blood type, I pick one at random to tell them and no matter which one I say, they always say they knew it and I seemed like a blood type whatever person.
Scientific Basis for Japanese Blood Types
One of my Japanese friends who is ‘not superstitious at all’ believes in blood types. He’s a scientist actually, so I was interested in his reasoning for this. He said that it’s because of evolution. Certain blood types and their attendant personalities survived in certain areas while others didn’t. In Japan, where life was rough and the Japanese cavemen/women had to be cunning, patient, clever and creative, the Type A’s survived.
The only problem with this theory is the utter lack of any evidence. The whole blood type things smacks of racialism to me. It sounds a bit like phrenology, where ‘scientists’ used to believe that the shapes of people’s heads determined criminality, idiocy and a whole bunch of other negative labels they could slap on racial minorities. It sounds a little like, ‘We Japanese are organized and serious while other people of earth are lazy, crazy, overly passionate, reckless, etc.’ The blood type scheme seems to work out conveniently that way.
But here are a couple of interesting actual facts – First, it’s not unique to Japan. This is also widely believed in Korea and some parts of East Asia (by the way, just like our zodiac signs, not everybody here believes in blood types). The second thing is that the theory of personality predictive blood types was hypothesized by a high school administrator who rigorously noticed how the students’ personalities were different and attributed it to blood type. And that’s it.
I’m afraid I still don’t see any cause and effect here. Clearly, the Japanese are prone to superstition and fallacy. They don’t have our rational, scientific Western mind that knows for a proven fact that it’s the position of the constellations at the time of your birth determines your personality.