The Japanese Think Blood Types Influence Character and Culture

The remarkableness of Japan.

Item One: Many Japanese consider that blood groups influence character. (From the BBC.)

According to popular belief in Japan, type As are sensitive perfectionists and good team players, but over-anxious. Type Os are curious and generous but stubborn. ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable, and type Bs are cheerful but eccentric, individualistic and selfish.

About 40% of the Japanese population is type A and 30% are type O, whilst only 20% are type B, with AB accounting for the remaining 10%.

Morning television shows, newspapers and magazines often publish blood type horoscopes and discuss relationship compatibility. Many dating agencies cater to blood types, and popular anime (animations), manga (comics) and video games often mention a character’s blood type.

A whole industry of customised products has also sprung up, with soft drinks, chewing gum, bath salts and even condoms catering for different blood groups on sale.

What to make of all this? Partly what we have here is a hazy recognition of the truth that personality differences are partly innate. Partly too there seems to be an astrology-like shortcut to understanding.

Item Two: Some scholars in Japan think blood groups influence culture.

Terumitsu Maekawa, professor of comparative religion at Tokyo’s Asia University and author of several books about blood groups. … In his books he explores the theory that predominant blood types may determine religious beliefs and societal norms.

In the Western world, O and A types make up almost 85% of people, but in India and Asia, B types predominate. Japan, he says, is unusual in Asia in that it has more variety of blood types.

“A type societies tend to be characterised by monotheism such as Christianity and Judaism, with one fundamental analysis of human beings and a strong sense of societal norms. But societies dominated by B types are more prone to polytheism – like Buddhism and Hinduism – with lots of gods, and they think people are all different.”

Again, there seems to be a nugget of truth (blood groups do vary by ethnicity), linked to what seems to me a major piece of speculation about the roots of monotheism and polytheism. I have to admit, though, that this unusual idea, hardly admissible in standard Western social science, may just have something going for it.

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