Blood Types - Capillaries hold key to character in Japan 血液型
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?
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, though the largest blood type is A with around 40% of the Japanese population, approximately 30% are O, 20% B and 10% AB. 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