People Are Stereotyped By Blood Type In Japan

“It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.” —William Shakespeare

In a Nutshell

Many Japanese consider blood type the prevailing influence on a person’s nature. Blood “stereotypes” have had many consequences on society in Japan, some grim and some rather ridiculous.

The Whole Bushel

Although many will deny it, a lot of Western people take a gander at their horoscope each morning, though not many of us truly believe it determines the aspects of our personality. In Japan, this focus is not on one’s birth month, but on blood type—and they take it deadly seriously.

Blood type is determined by the antigens that cling to the surface of red blood cells, and according to numerous scientific studies, has no impact on a person’s character. Nevertheless, determining personality by blood type has been a Japanese tradition at least since World War II, when factions of the Imperial Army were organized by their types. The concept was given wider public attention when writer Masahiko Nomi published his book Understanding Affinity by Blood Type in 1971. Today, books on blood type dominate bestseller lists in Japan, selling millions of copies. The notion is particularly fashionable among young women.

It is not unusual for Japanese job applications to ask for blood type, and there are dating websites particularly for one type or another. Foods, drinks, and medications (even condoms) are “designed” to work best with specific types. Education curriculums in schools use blood type to determine the best teaching methods. In 1990, Mitsubishi built an entire team of workers from the AB type because of their “ability” to make plans. In 2011, Minister for Reconstruction Ryu Matsumoto resigned after making some tactless remarks following Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. When he quit his post, he blamed his type-B blood for his brusque manner. Even video games tend to mention the blood types of their characters.

Asians show a marked diversity in blood types when compared to the West. Although there have been over 30 different types identified, approximately 70 percent of the Japanese population is type A or type O. People with rarer types can suffer from “bura-hara” or blood type discrimination. It is believed part of the reason for these stereotypes is the racial homogeneity of Japan. Because the country was closed to outsiders for so many generations, people tend to have markedly similar features, skin, hair, and eye color; blood type is one of the few things that makes people “different” from one another.

Show Me The Proof

The importance of blood type in Japanese culture
Japan and blood types: Does it determine personality?

  • mapep

    So, bigotry is a natural occurrence?

    • philipmarie

      I wouldn’t call taking blood type seriously bigotry on the same level as racial discrimination. It’s just an old wives tale that many people take seriously. Does it reduce my love for Japanese culture or the Japanese with their deep humility? Not at all, that’s just stupid. Silly people with their superiority complexes and what not.

  • inconspicuous detective

    never heard of this before, and i’m into anime and stuff so i would like to think i would. doesn’t sound as widespread as it’s made out to be, though i could be wrong; also: i’ve been interested to find out what my type is. i’ve got green eyes and i wanna find out if my blood is as rare and unique as well.

    • Didn’t you take chemistry in school? I remember doing the blood typing as one of the first tests in class.
      bytheway, I also have green eyes and a fairly rare blood type, but I don’t think the two are connected.

      • inconspicuous detective

        never did blood typing…and nah they’re not connected but i’d like a rare blood type as well heh. inflated ego and all..

        • Trust me, it isn’t all that great. If you need a transfusion having a more common blood type is best. The blood banks are always low on the rarer kinds. My younger daughter has the same type as I do. She has been donating blood since she was old enough to do so. Every so often the banks call her, asking for emergency donations.

          • inconspicuous detective

            i wouldn’t consider it a problem to save a life because i have rare blood. i’d feel privileged.

          • Yes, that is a good thing! It’s just that being on the other end, needing a transfusion, that’s less than great.
            Either way, donating blood is a very, very good thing to do. I think everyone who is able to do so ought to. You never know when you’ll save a life…and you will.

  • Phil_42

    Just when I thought I’d heard of every ridiculous superstition…

  • Sender

    As an avid anime fan, I’d known this for a while, though the smaller details were new and interesting to me. I remember I first became curious about it as a child when playing Street Fighter 2, and the character bios had blood types. I thought it was so random that they had given these fictional characters blood types, what purpose could that possibly serve, I imagined? I wouldn’t find out for years.

  • Natasha Mar

    Since when does being an anime fan make you an expert on Japanese culture? Weirdo Asian fetishists…

    • Colossal Titan

      I really despise you saying “Weirdo Asian fetishists”

      • Natasha Mar

        I really despise people who think I should be flattered by their strange obsession culture. It makes me feel like an animal in a zoo not to mention their ‘knowledge’ is usually comprised of little more than generalized stereotypes

        • Colossal Titan

          Sorry for being annoying. I don’t want to go on any further. I don’t want to be in an argument with someone older than me (I am still 12).
          And I am Chinese so I don’t really understand you.
          (Does liking anime make you a weirdo Asian? I’m just curious.)

          • Colossal Titan

            I up voted both of your comment to apologize.
            Sorry for my horrible English.

  • b+

    i guess human beings just need an excuse for discrimination.

  • rhijulbec

    I guess when the outer features are so similar, another way to discriminate has to be found. I wonder why?

  • I hate you

    Japanese people are freaking weird. Wax on Wax orf

  • Hillyard

    Do Japanese vampires ask the blood type before they bite?

  • Befuddled Mike

    Yeah, this is one of those weird kinds of superstition that are are extremely exotic and thus constricted to their country, like the myth in some asian countries that a running fan will kill you over night. Several other myths in Japan also tell how blood from virgins was supposed to be used for the coating of telephone lines.

    In nature however it is more closely to the concept of phrenelogy that was very popular in the early 20th century and earlier here in the west. Phrenology said that the shape of the skull determined the personality of the person.

    Not sure how popular blood type horoscopes still are in Japan, at least a few years ago it must have been very popular. I think I remember a chapter in Franken Fran that was about it.

  • Guelettis

    When I visited Japan, they were baffled when I didn’t know my own blood type. The daughter of the family that hosted me said she didn’t know who to introduce me to if she didn’t know what I would act like (based on my blood type). It was weird.

  • anonymouse72

    Well, people should consider lying about their blood type.

  • leaves and bells

    I’ve always wondered why anime and manga characters had blood types. Now i know. Thanks

  • Ihsan YoungsterPro

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  • Ican Aja

    Rumah dijual di Pondok Cabe I really despise people who think I should be flattered by their strange obsession
    culture. It makes me feel like an animal in a zoo not to mention their
    ‘knowledge’ is usually comprised of little more than generalized