Has this question come up yet? Keitsuekigata wa nani gata? This question will inevitably surface if your kid lives and goes to school in the Japanese community.
The concept is said to have been founded by the Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner, who found three different blood types in 1900. Ethnic studies found that there were different blood group distributions across the world (with Asian populations having a higher percentage of Type B). In other countries, the theory holds interest for dietary applications, since the differing blood types evolved in early times association with different populations and communities that may have been nomadic-pastoral or agricultural, hence their respective differing adaptations on the dietary front.
But foreign news makes much about how blood typing can turn into discrimination here in Japan … about how kindergartens divide up their kids based on blood types (something I have never seen) and how employees can be given assignments based on their blood type personalities. Most would object on moral grounds: the concept also has rather an ominous war historical associations — it was used by Nazis to support their ideas on supremacy over different races, and later by the Japanese militarist government which commissioned a study aimed at breeding soldiers based on certain blood types.
Nevertheless, I personally haven’t seen any discriminatory effects of it myself. So far, it’s been fodder for an amusing topic and makes for good conversational ice-breakers.
If you want to know where and how the interest in blood typing began, read the Japan Today article posted below.
Blood types – capillaries hold key to character Japan Today
In Japan, you are what you bleed. Blood type is a common way of defining temperament and personality, much like horoscopes in Western countries.
It all started in 1931 in Japan. Furukawa Takeji (1891–1940) proposed that there was a link between blood type and personality after working in the administration department of a high school and observing the temperamental differences between applicants.
Furukawa proposed that we humans are simple beings, only requiring two personality types. His report stated that people of blood type A were generally mild tempered and intellectual, while people of blood type B were the opposite, essentially dividing the population into the “good” and the “bad.”
A great deal of research went into blood psychology in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, mainly in Japan. Masahiko and Toshitaka Nomi, a father and son team, were responsible for making this a mainstream science, having researched the way in which blood type affects every area of our lives, including relationships, work and leisure.
In Japan, blood type has influenced peoples lives in unexpected ways. For instance, some Japanese companies have planned departments around the blood types of their workforce. A baseball coach is reported to have used it in the selection of his teams.
During World War II, Japan’s Imperial Army is rumoured to have formed battle groups according to blood type, while a kindergarten has reportedly adapted its methods of teaching along the same lines. The class is split according to blood type, and then different teaching techniques are used depending on the group. It is also used extensively in dating services as a good indicator of potential matches.
In 1930, after the blood type/personality link was first suggested, a new blank for blood type was added to job application forms, in order to better assess the potential employees’ temperament. As recently as 1997, the subject attracted enough attention to warrant four out of the five Japanese TV channels to broadcast programmes on the subject. Even today there is a daily forecast on morning television.Discussing blood type is a key part of introductions. Any high school kid worth their salt will never fail to enquire as to your blood type, as any western teenager would do with star signs.
An industry has grown around the humble foundation laid down by Furukawa, so that you can now buy blood type chewing gum, soft drinks, calendars and even blood type condoms! The condoms are all the same, but contain different instructions for each blood group on how to approach the sexual encounter!
Why so popular in Japan?
38% of Japan’s population
is Type A.
Blood type was a contentious issue in the 1920’s and 30’s. The interest in blood types in Japan grew as a reaction against Western racism. Scientists in the west found that type B was common in Asia, but rare in Caucasians. As type B was typical in animals, they argued that Asians were inferior, lower on the evolutionary scale. Japanese scientists were keen to disprove this ludicrous theory, debate continued and it became a popular “ology.”
Masao Ohmura, a professor of personality psychology at Nihon University doesn’t believe that blood type has any bearing on personality. He suggests that the reason for the popularity of blood typology in Japan is because the Japanese are genetically quite a homogeneous race, but don’t want to seem the same. The Japanese population, however, has a fairly even distribution of a number of blood types. Hence, if grouped by blood type, diversity is created, even if it is only the illusion of diversity.
In Europe and America, however, the vast majority of people are type A or O, with only a few type B’s and even fewer AB’s. Therefore, most people would fall into two personality categories, an either/or choice of temperament, possibly explaining why blood typology has not been a big hit overseas in the past.
Interestingly, 90% of the Japanese know their blood type, although whether this is the reason the fad became so popular or a consequence of its popularity is not certain. In contrast, their European and American peers are blissfully unaware of not only their blood type, but also the “blood typology” phenomenon.
Of course, if you are a type AB or O you will probably dismiss all of this blood-analysis out of hand as New Age mumbo jumbo, but the more sensitive type A’s or B’s may want to discover more…
Type O – The Warrior
- Queen Elizabeth II
- John Lennon
- Elvis Presley
- Liam & Noel Gallagher
- Paul Newman
Type A – The Farmer
- unable to relax
- Adolf Hitler
- George Bush Senior
- Soseki Natsume
- Ringo Starr
- Britney Spears
Type B – The Hunter
- dislike custom
- Akira Kurosawa
- Paul McCartney
- Mia Farrow
- Leonardo Di Caprio
- Jack Nicholson
Type AB – The Humanist
- sometimes standoffish
- Jackie Chan
- Marilyn Monroe
- John F Kennedy
- Mick Jagger
- Alain Prost
More reading online on the topic available at these links:
Blood types in Japanese Culture (Wikipedia)
Matchmaking agencies provide blood-type compatibility tests, and some companies make decisions about assignments based on employees’ blood types.
Children at some kindergartens are divided up by blood type, and the women’s softball team that won gold at the Beijing Olympics used the theory to customize each player’s training.
Not all see the craze as harmless fun, and the Japanese now have a term, “bura-hara,” meaning blood-type harassment.
And, despite repeated warnings, many employers continue to ask blood types at job interviews, said Junichi Wadayama, an official at the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry.
“It’s so widespread that most people, even company officials, are not aware that asking blood types could lead to discrimination,” Wadayama said.
Blood types, determined by the proteins in the blood, have nothing to do with personality, said Satoru Kikuchi, associate professor of psychology at Shinshu University.
“It’s simply sham science,” he said. “The idea encourages people to judge others by the blood types, without trying to understand them as human beings. It’s like racism.”
The importance of blood type in Japanese culture
Japan Today, LIFESTYLE JAN. 20, 2012 – 06:00AM JST ( 98 )
It is a good idea to know your blood type. While most Japanese know their blood type, many foreigners do not (and Japanese are frequently surprised to hear this).
Many Japanese people believe that each blood type has a certain personality and affinity, so it is common for them to ask someone their blood type or try to guess someone’s blood type by their personality. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for women in their 20s and 30s to even select a prospective husband based on his blood type.
There are many books about the various blood type personalities. For example, “A, B, O, AB gata jibun no setsumeisho” (A Guide to A, B, O, AB blood types), written by an unknown author who uses the pen name Jamais Jamais, have become best sellers in Japan.
Here is a look at what it’s all about.
General personality of people who have type A blood
—Consider things carefully
—Can understand other people’s feelings easily
—Good at hospitality
—Don’t express themselves in order to avoid possible quarrel
—Do things carefully and steadily, and don’t take the next step if they are not satisfied
—Honor student types who don’t go off the rail
—Big on cleanliness
—Can be calm even when accidents happen
—Strong on taking responsibility
Type A blood people’s affinity with each blood type
Partner who is type A – They have many common points; however, both of them are highly strung, so they may be irritated by each other.
Partner who is type B – Type A person envies type B’s happy-go-lucky personality. However, type A person worries about type B person’s personality.
Partner who is type AB – Type AB person is reliable for type A, someone they can turn to for good advice and help. They can have a stable love relationship.
Partner who is type O – Type O person is protective of type A. However, if type A talks about every small thing, the relationship won’t be good.
General personality of people who have type B blood
—Like to go their own way
—Do what they want without considering other people’s feelings, rules and customs
—Happy-go-lucky and masters of breaking rules
—Friendly and open their heart to anybody
—Afraid of being alone
—Get lonely easily
—Quick to adapt
—Don’t chase a dream much
—Like to play
—Love festivals and parties
—Have been in love many times
—Don’t get heart-broken over lost love
Type B blood people’s affinity with each blood type person
Partner who is type A – Type A person is always willing to help type B person; however, they get tired of each other easily. Type A often complains to type B.
Partner who is type B – Both of them are not careful, so they may do things that are off the rail.
Partner who is type AB – They attract each other and they may quickly start a relationship. They love each other very much.
Partner who is type O – They can understand each other easily. Type O person covers for type B person’s bad points. They are a great match for friendship.
General personality of people who have type AB blood
—Chase ideals and dreams
—Don’t have secular needs such as greed and a desire to succeed
—Have strong spirituality
—Calm and rational
—Sensitive and easily hurt
—Have a complicated personality
—Private life is important
—Don’t like interference from other people
—Have various hobbies
—Vigorous in pursuit of knowledge in wide range of fields
—Have unique ideas and are creative
—Have fairy tale-like hobbies
—Calm and frank about love relationship
Type AB blood people’s affinity with each blood type person
Partner who is type A – Type AB person respects type A person, and they have a passionate love for each other. However, they may quarrel frequently.
Partner who is type B – They are a good match and connect with each other easily.
Partner who is type AB – Their relationship is always proceeding along parallel lines. They cannot open their minds to each other. It is best not to be too close to each other, nor be too far apart.
Partner who is type O – They can succeed in business and at various activities together. They can produce new things together easily.
General personality of people who have type O blood
—Good at developing economic concepts
—Vigorous at earning a living
—Strong in face of adversity
—Dream of getting rich quick, but actually take a steady approach
—Go straight toward their goal
—Have leadership ability and often take care of younger people and people below them
—Don’t care about small things, taking a wider perspective instead
—Devoted, but with a strong desire to monopolize
Type O blood people’s affinity with each blood type person
Partner who is type A – Type O person always wants to take the lead for type A person. They are a good combination.
Partner who is type B – They can talk freely and openly and have a comfortable relationship. However, type O person gets confused by type B person’s moody personality sometimes.
Partner who is type AB – Their thoughts are a match. However, if they are in the same “arena,” they compete with each other strongly.
Partner who is type O – They cannot understand each other basically, and they feel alienation easily. It is best not to get too close together.
Source: Ketsuekigatabetsuseikaku (Each blood type’s personality)
Dieting methods by blood type
Erica Angyal, a Miss Universe Japan official nutritionist and health consultant, has published books on health and beauty by blood type, such as “Bijo no Ketsuekigata BOOK” (beautiful women’s blood type) and “Bijo no Ketsuekigata-bestu Obento BOOK” (beautiful women’s lunch box by each blood type).
Also, the fitness and health magazine FYTTE’s February edition introduces a dieting method by blood type directed by Angyal.
Here is brief introduction to the dieting method.
Recommended diet for type A
Recommended foods for type A people are carbohydrates such as rice and grain, vegetables, and fruits because type As originated from agricultural tribes who mainly ate foods from plants. However, type As usually don’t digest dairy products easily, so it is better to have yogurt. Also, meat is difficult to digest and turns into fat easily for type A people, so it is better to eat beans and fish for protein. Japanese traditional foods such as miso soup, natto, tofu, and so on are a good match for type A people.
Recommended exercise for type A
Stress is the main enemy for type A people, so slow exercise such as yoga is the best way to relax.
Recommended diet for type B
Type B people have the ability to digest various foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, meats, grain and dairy products because type Bs originated from nomad tribes who ate various foods to survive in their extreme environment. It is best to have various foods, especially protein, otherwise type B people get irritated and tired easily. Lean meat with low fat, especially beef and lamb, are good because they are easy to digest and make metabolism faster for type B people. However, chicken, sesame, corn, soba noodles and wheat make type B people fat.
Recommended exercise for type B
Type B blood people have high stress, so it is best to play active sports such as tennis and golf, and also try slow exercise such as yoga to relax.
Recommended diet for type AB
Type AB people have features of both type A and type B. For example, type AB people don’t have enough stomach acids to easily digest some kinds of meat like type As. Protein from soy beans is good for type AB people, as are some dairy products. Therefore, it is best to take protein from fish and soy beans, and other various foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, yogurt, and so on, with a good balance. Wheat, chicken, corn, sesame and soba noodles are not good for dieting.
Recommended exercise for type AB
Type AB people have negative feelings such as anger and hostility and it is bad for their body when they get excited too much. So the best exercises for type AB people are yoga to relax their body and aerobics to let stress out.
Recommended diet for type O
Type O people can digest meat easier than other blood types. However, lack of protein tires them easily too because type O people originated from tribes that hunted animals and gathered nuts, fruit and plants. The tribes ate low fat meat, so low fat beef and lamb are good for type O people. Especially fish with omega-3 fatty acid are the best protein source for them. Eating fresh vegetables and fruit is recommended. The early tribes did not eat grains and dairy products, so those foods are difficult to digest for type O people. Wheat and dairy products make type O people get fat easily.
Recommended exercise for type O
Exercises which improve the heart rate function and muscles, such as running and boxing are good for type O people. Active exercises keep their hormone balance right.
Source: FYTTE (in February, 2012)