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Why Japan is Obsessed with Blood Types

While Westerners nonchalantly identify themselves by their zodiac sign, those in Japan prefer to go by their blood types. Although seemingly odd and personal, broadcasting your blood type in job interviews, conversations and social media profiles is a common practice in Japan. Blood types are seen as an indicator of one’s character and values, and over the years, this theory has become more and more pervasive in Japanese culture.

This concept began in the early 1900s when Japanese doctor Kimata Hara authored a paper connecting blood type to personality. Then, in 1927, former professor Takeji Furukawa furthered Hara’s ideas by writing a collection of articles called “The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type.” At this stage, this theory was quickly gaining traction in Japan, despite the lack of statistics. After 1930, however, the trend faded into the background due to inconsistent evidence. Then, in 1970, journalist Masahiko Nomi brought this premise to the foreground once more, and since then it has been on the fast track to becoming an integral part of Japan’s society. There are instruction manuals for each individual blood type, blood horoscopes in magazines and TV shows based on the blood-to-character link. In 2009, a whole drama series titled How Women of Different Blood Types Can Get Married premiered, not long after the book Blood Type B: My Own Manual became a bestseller in 2007. Moreover, there are even products marketed towards specific blood types, such as condoms and soda.

Blood types and their personality traits. Illustrated by Kelly Shami

Paralleling this craze are growing stereotypes towards certain blood types. Due to this belief that a person’s personality can be determined by their blood, some types are seen as more favorable than others in Japan. For example, type AB makes up only ten percent of the population in Japan, rendering it the least sought after blood type. Those with type AB are soon as aloof, critical and cold — therefore, they may be less likely to be chosen by employers or less desirable to others on dating apps. The discrimination can be quite vehement, leading many to even lie during interviews when questioned about their blood type. Despite the inconclusive research and the scientific facts that nullify this belief system, this blood type ideology continues to thrive in Japan. Similar to America’s obsession with zodiac signs, this ever-growing trend might well spread its wings into western society in the future.

Photo: Jezael Melgoza 

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