In Japan, You Are What Your Blood Type Is


And I like to roam the land
May 18, 2002
In Japan, you are what your blood type is

By MARI YAMAGUCHI – 3 days ago

TOKYO (AP) — In Japan, "What's your type?" is much more than small talk; it can be a paramount question in everything from matchmaking to getting a job.

By type, the Japanese mean blood type, and no amount of scientific debunking can kill a widely held notion that blood tells all.

In the year just ended, four of Japan's top 10 best-sellers were about how blood type determines personality, according to Japan's largest book distributor, Tohan Co. The books' publisher, Bungeisha, says the series — one each for types B, O, A, and AB — has combined sales of well over 5 million copies.

Taku Kabeya, chief editor at Bungeisha, thinks the appeal comes from having one's self-image confirmed; readers discover the definition of their blood type and "It's like 'Yes, that's me!'"

As defined by the books, type As are sensitive perfectionists but overanxious; Type Bs are cheerful but eccentric and selfish; Os are curious, generous but stubborn; and ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable.

All that may sound like a horoscope, but the public doesn't seem to care.

Even Prime Minister Taro Aso seems to consider it important enough to reveal in his official profile on the Web. He's an A. His rival, opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa, is a B.

Nowadays blood type features in a Nintendo DS game and on "lucky bags" of women's accessories tailored to blood type and sold at Tokyo's Printemps department store. A TV network is set to broadcast a comedy about women seeking husbands according to blood type.

It doesn't stop there.

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."

This use of blood-typing has unsavory roots.

The theory was imported from Nazi race ideologues and adopted by Japan's militarist government in the 1930s to breed better soldiers. The idea was scrapped years later and the craze faded.

It resurfaced in the 1970s, however, as Masahiko Nomi, an advocate with no medical background, gave the theory mass appeal. His son, Toshitaka, now promotes it through a private group, the Human Science ABO Center, saying it's not intended to rank or judge people but to smooth relationships and help make the best of one's talents.

The books tend to stop short of blood-type determinism, suggesting instead that while blood type creates personality tendencies, it's hardly definitive.

"Good job, you're done. So how do you feel about the results?" one blood type manual asks on its closing page. "Your type, after all, is what you decide you are."


I remember a poster from Japan (Tamyu?) saying that wacky stories about the country get over-represented in the western press. Is the 'craze' for blood typing really that big over there, or is something once again being exaggerated to the level of national mania?
Believed in Korea too.

People thought i was joking when i said i didn't know my type as the only test i had was when very young.
Since I have a Japanese friend...
She said that it's sort of like horoscopes over here, nobody *really* completely believes it's totally accurate but bits and pieces tends to fit and it's made it's way into popular culture, everybody knows the theory.
Much like my starsign's personality type as described in: ... agittarius
(fairly accurate for me in the most part)

However I definately think more people over there put more stock in it that we do starsign personalities over here due to the psuedo-science certain people wrote a number of years ago over there.
Yeah I'm a Sagittarius too, and I remember being really struck by how much I matched the description of one I found on the back of an incense packet once, but that's it really... A combination of vague statements that anyone can relate to, worded so they seem just specific enough.
H_James said:
I remember a poster from Japan (Tamyu?) saying that wacky stories about the country get over-represented in the western press. Is the 'craze' for blood typing really that big over there, or is something once again being exaggerated to the level of national mania?

I feel quite special to be called out by name. :D

I`d say it`s on the same level as horoscopes. No one really really believes. However, Japan is quite superstitious when it comes to small things - with the attitude of "I don`t really believe it, but what can it hurt to be safe?". In fact, religion here is even that way, which is why western media reports that Japan is a largely atheist country... When in reality it is a country filled to the top with practitioners, who just prefer to say they don`t really believe, but are too scared not to go through with the rituals.

As for "mania", I don`t think so at all. Yes, there are books which sell well, but as for being in the forefront - I don`t really think so. I have yet to hear of anything other than books. And those sell most to children and teenagers - anything to "see if you`re compatible" with the guy/girl you have a crush on.
tamyu said:
I`d say it`s on the same level as horoscopes. No one really really believes. However, Japan is quite superstitious when it comes to small things - with the attitude of "I don`t really believe it, but what can it hurt to be safe?". In fact, religion here is even that way....
Some years ago we had a thread on biorhythms too:

Any new ideas there?
I posted there -

My ex-husband was a student at UMIST and frowned upon anything remotely paranormal or quack, like ESP, astrology and the like, but was delighted to have his biorhythm printed out by a mighty UMIST computer. When I pointed out the obvious conflict this entailed he sniffed that as a computer had done it, it must be right.

Maybe his gullibility levels were high that day.

rynner2 said:
Some years ago we had a thread on biorhythms too:

Any new ideas there?

I have to say "biorhythms" are something I had never heard of until it was brought up here.

In fact, when I read the word, the first image that popped into my head was the calculation of fertility cycles when trying to get pregnant!

They certainly aren`t known in Japan.
tamyu said:
I have to say "biorhythms" are something I had never heard of until it was brought up here.
They certainly aren`t known in Japan.
But IIRC, they were once very big in Japan, which is why I mentioned them here.

Although the Biorhythms thread doesn't actually mention Japan, I seem to remember stories about Japanese bus drivers not being allowed to work on 'dangerous' days in case they had an accident, etc.
No one around me has ever heard of them, and a search into it on the Japanese side of the web pulls up a lot about sleep patterns and how they effect your performance.

So it seems that the fortune telling bit has been lost along the way, and it is more of a nod to circadian rhythms - and that disrupting them can have adverse effect on your well being.
The "biorhythm" references in regard to work are all of that sort, trying to keep workers on a schedule that doesn`t push them into a weird wake sleep pattern.

In the 70s, maybe it was well known. But now, biorhythm appears most often in reference to sleep patterns and their effects on the body.
Ha ha! I thought I'd see if I could google up a version of that bus driver story - but that was difficult because there is now a Bus Driver PC game available...! :roll:

But there are several biorhythm calculators available out there.

And I did find this (extracts only, I'll put the full thing on the other thread):
Biorhythm Theory: True or False? Some Results from Trials and Experiments
This question–whether monitoring biorhythm cycles can actually make a difference in people’s lives–has been studied since the 1960s, when the writings of George S. Thommen popularized the idea.

Several companies began experimenting and although the Japanese were the first nation to apply biorhythms on a large scale, the Swiss were the first to see and realize the benefits of biorhythms in reducing accidents.

Hans Frueh invented the Bio-Card and Bio-Calculator, and Swiss municipal and national authorities appear to have been applying biorhythms for many years before the Japanese experiments.


The Zurich Municipal Transit Company bus and trollies accident rate per 10,000 kilometers had been slashed by about 50 percent within one year of the application of biorhythms. Similar positive results were reported by the municipal transit system of Hanover, Germany.

The greatest force in the wave of biorhythms application in Japan was the work done by the traffic police and other traffic safety organizations. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police published a study in 1971 which indicated that more than 80 percent of the traffic accidents reported during the previous year had taken place on the driver’s critical day. About the same time, Osaka Police published a biorhythmic study of more than 100 traffic accidents involving child pedestrians and 70 percent of those young pedestrians had been injured on their critical days.

In some parts of Japan, everyone receiving a driver’s license for the first time or renewing a license received a personalized biorhythm chart, as did anyone involved in an accident. The result was a significant drop in the accident rate. Japanese insurance companies even helped to sponsor biorhythms-based driver safety courses and urged that every worker in Japan received a bio-curve graph in their pay envelope. ... ments.html
It may very well have been that strong and widespread. The 70s were before my birth, and even longer before I moved to Japan (born in 1980, moved to Japan in 1998).

These days, however, I think you`d be hard pressed to find someone who remembers what they are - if my family and friends are at all representative.

My husband, when I just asked, responded with "Isn`t that what you monitor with those really sensitive thermometers for fertility?"
Another response from a friend was "That`s that hormone thing so you can tell what times of day would be most fattening to eat, right?"
tamyu said:
It may very well have been that strong and widespread. The 70s were before my birth, and even longer before I moved to Japan
Educational 'ere, innit? :D
Question: I understand horoscopes being an old superstition. The stars have been around a long old time. However. when where the different types of blood first identified and tested for?
According to Wikipedia:

The two most significant blood group systems were discovered during early experiments with blood transfusion: the ABO group in 1901 and the Rhesus group in 1937.Development of the Coombs test in 1945, the advent of transfusion medicine, and the understanding of hemolytic disease of the newborn led to discovery of more blood groups, and now 30 human blood group systems are recognized by the International Society of Blood Transfusion.

So not all that long ago.

There's also a wiki article onBlood Types in Japanese Culture.

The ABO blood group system is widely credited to have been founded by the Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner, who found three different blood types in 1900. Ethnic studies did show different blood group distributions across the world (e.g. Asian people having a higher percentage of Type B). This fact was used by Nazis to further ideas of supremacy over different races. Those distortions were debunked before Nazi Germany invoked race laws like the Nuremberg Laws, where the wording "German blood" is figurative for Aryan lineage.

The theory first reached Japan in 1927 in Takeji Furukawa's paper "The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type" in the scholarly journal Psychological Research. He was a professor at Tokyo Women's Teacher's School. The idea quickly took off with the Japanese public despite his lack of credentials, and the militarist government of the time commissioned a study aimed at breeding the soldiers. The study used no more than ten to twenty people for the investigation. The breeding program therefore ended up with miserable results - most of the army selected by the project lost their lives.[citation needed] In another study, Furukawa compared the distribution of blood types among two different ethnic groups, the Formosans in Taiwan and the Ainu who live in Northeast Asia, especially Hokkaidō. His motivation for the study appears to have derived from a political incident. After the Japanese occupation of Taiwan following Japan's victory over China in 1895, the inhabitants tenaciously resisted their occupiers. Insurgencies in 1930 and in 1931 killed hundreds of Japanese settlers. The purpose of Furukawa's studies was to "penetrate the essence of the racial traits of the Taiwanese, who recently revolted and behaved so cruelly". Based on the finding that 41.2% of a Taiwanese sample had type O blood, he assumed that their rebelliousness was genetically determined. The reasoning was supported by the fact that among the Ainu, whose temperament was characterized as submissive, only 23.8% had type O. In conclusion, Furukawa suggested that the Taiwanese should intermarry more with the Japanese in order to reduce the number of individuals with type O blood.

The fad faded in the 1930s as its unscientific basis became evident. It was revived in the 1970s with a book by Masahiko Nomi, a lawyer and broadcaster with no medical background. Nomi's work was largely uncontrolled and anecdotal, and the methodology of his conclusions is unclear. Because of this he has been heavily assailed by the Japanese psychological community, although his books are phenomenally popular.
rynner2 said:
Educational 'ere, innit? :D

Indeed it is. All the more reason to keep coming back. :D

I can say for certain that they no longer hand out biorhythm charts to those receiving or renewing their drivers` licenses. I renewed mine fairly recently, and there was no mention of it!
I was having dinner with a (Korean) neurosurgeon and an anaesthologist the other day and - i can't recall how - but the fact that i didn't know my own blood group came up. They looked stunned, and double and treble checked that this wasn't a mistranslation. Had I not merely, forgotten?

Anyway, the comic part was when they - learned men of science and what-have-you - launched into a debate over my likely group, factoring in (from memory) the group distributions in the UK and MY PERSONALITY. I laughed pretty hard, but the upshot is that i'm having a free check at their hospital to find out who owes money to whom!
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Dating by blood type in Japan
By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

People in most parts of the world do not think about their blood group much, unless they have an operation or an accident and need a transfusion.

But in Japan, whether someone is A, B, O or AB is a topic of everyday conversation.

There is a widespread belief that blood type determines personality, with implications for life, work and love.

It is Saturday night and a speed dating session is underway in a small building in the backstreets of Tokyo.

Men and women are sitting nervously at tables hoping to find that special someone.

The room is brightly painted in red and white, the staff upbeat and enthusiastic, but the conversations are rather stilted.

The couples have just a few minutes to try to sound each other out before a bell rings and they have to move on to the next lonely single.

It is a scene repeated in cities across the world but this speed dating session in Japan has a twist.

It is for women who want to meet men with blood group A or AB.

One says she decided to narrow down her search for a boyfriend after a bad experience with a man with type B.

"Looking back it seems trivial," she said. "But I couldn't help getting annoyed by how disorganised he was."

"I really would like someone with type A blood," added her friend. "My image is of someone who is down to earth, something like that."

Interest in blood type is widespread in Japan, particularly which combinations are best for romance.

Women's magazines run scores of articles on the subject, which has also inspired best-selling self-help books.

The received wisdom is that As are dependable and self sacrificing, but reserved and prone to worry.

Decisive and confident, that is people with type O.

ABs are well balanced, clear-sighted and logical, but also high-maintenance and distant.

The black sheep though seem to be blood group B - flamboyant free-thinkers, but selfish.

"At the interview for my first job they asked me about my blood type," said a man with blood group B, who wanted to identify himself only as Kouichi.

"The surprise was written on my face. Why? It turned out the company president really cared. She'd obviously had a bad experience with a B type blood person. But somehow I got the job anyway."

Later, though, the issue of his blood came up again.

"The president was the kind of person who couldn't take her drink and at one company party she got drunk. So she sent B people home before the others. 'You are blood type B,' she said. 'Get out.'" :shock:

There is even a term for such behaviour in Japan, burahara, which translates as blood group harassment.

etc... ... 646236.stm
FWIW, my wife and I had the same uncommon blood group, A Rh Negative, carried by about 15% of the population. Did that make for a long and happy marriage? Er, no - after a couple of kids and a few years it fell apart, so my wife became my ex-wife.

She has since died, so I suppose that makes her my ex-ex-wife - my x^2 wife?
I was just perusing a website called Asian Nude of the Day. From the name you might be able to gain some insight into what kind of website it is. What I found surprising was that for some of the photos, it has information about the model but besides the usual stuff it also lists their bloodtype. I guess that might be related to the superstition mentioned in this thread. I don´t know which country the website owner is from.
Ex-minister blames his blood group for outburst after Fukushima disaster
By David McNeill in Tokyo
Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Politicians typically blame stress, overwork and "personal issues" for being forced to step down early, but Ryu Matsumoto may well be the first to cite his blood group.

Japan's Minister for Reconstruction said yesterday that his type-B blood made him abrasive and outspoken, as he tried to explain a politically disastrous visit to the country's shattered north-east that forced him to quit just a week into his new job.

Mr Matsumoto sparked uproar when he gave the busy governor of quake and tsunami-hit Miyagi Prefecture a humiliating dressing down for being a few minutes late. After wagging his finger at a stunned Yoshihiro Murai, Mr Matsumoto then jokingly warned watching journalists that if they reported the incident their companies would be "finished".

In tones akin to a schoolmaster berating an unruly child, he also told the Iwate governor, Takuya Tasso, that the government would withhold financial aid from areas "without ideas" for reconstruction. Both prefectures have lost thousands of people and are struggling to house thousands more left homeless by the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.

Footage of the Miyagi meeting was quickly leaked online, forcing the minister to quit just over a week after he took office. Yesterday, a teary-eyed Mr Matsumoto, who was appointed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, said he was sorry for offending the people in the disaster-hit areas. "I thought I was emotionally close to the disaster victims, but ... my comments were too harsh," he said.

The 60-year-old politician attempted to salvage something from the disaster by tapping into a popular cultural belief in parts of Asia that blood types are an indicator of personality. People in Mr Matsumoto's type-B group are considered creative and strong, but also hot-tempered and unpredictable.

The explanation left most people cold. "I think he made the right decision to go," said Yoshiko Oikawa, who lost her family home when the tsunami struck the coastal city of Ofunato in Iwate. "He seems to look down on us."

The resignation has added to the woes of Mr Kan's government, which has been painted as bumbling and inept.
Few political analysts are looking to the Prime Minister's blood group for an explanation of his stubbornness: type-Os are famously flighty, unreliable and fond of being the centre of attention. ... 07416.html
BlackRiverFalls said:
Someone has japanese schoolgirl assassins on the brain. :lol:

I can't help it!

If Gafdaffi can have an all female bodyguard squad then I want an all japanese schoolgirl assassin bodyguard squad!
I recall being in Tokyo in 1983 where you could buy from stores and street vendors plastic credit card sized images of female Japanese 'Idols'. These are pretty, young women who are actresses, singers or t.v personalities, usually only for a fleeting moment in time. On the reverse were their names, ages & vital statistics including their blood type. Why their blood type was included was something that always puzzled me, but now I know why.
As a souvenir I bought one of these cards, choosing the most beautiful young lady, her name was Naomi Kawashima. I thought she was stunning. I've just Googled her only to find out she died in 2015, aged 54.