It turns out that having a 'type A personality' or 'type B personality' has an entirely different meaning in Japan than in the U.S.
The other day while having lunch with some co-workers in the office, the main topic of a half-hour long conversation was blood type. Specifically which people had which blood type. I understand enough Japanese to know that this is what was being discussed but not quite enough to understand everything that was being said, and definitely not enough to understand why this was so funny and amusing to everyone.
Someone asked me what my blood type was. "O negative," I replied, which was met with an animated mixed chorus of "Oooooooh," "Mmmmmm" and "Ahhhhh". Well, it is the universal donor type, I thought. I suppose that's relatively impressive? Then they asked what type my family members were. "Uhh...I have no idea." It's not like I've ever had to give one of them a blood transfusion. When asked what type most people in America are I had to reply again that I don't know that either and I'm pretty sure that the majority of people in America don't even know what their own blood type is.
Someone said that most Japanese people have type O, so I thought maybe this was so interesting to them because most people in Japan had the same blood type and it was strange if someone had a different type? Especially type B; that one seemed to get singled out the most. Maybe it's really rare in Japan? Maybe there is just nothing else to talk about?!
So after feeling pretty lost during the whole conversation I Google searched "blood type Japan", to see if there was a common blood type or something. And what I found out is that here and other parts of Asia blood type is thought to be an indicator of your personality. Kind of like astrology in the West, but according to what I read, perhaps even more prevalent. There is even a Japanese word for harassment due to blood type: "buruhara"(short and Japanese-icized for blood harassment).
This explains so much!!
Here is a link to an interesting article from BBC that I read about it:
This also explains why one day an option to add my blood type to my Facebook profile page mysteriously appeared. I know they've been updating the format a lot recently, though this seemed like an unnecessary bit of personal medical information to be asking for. But after some comparative analysis I realized that the 'one day' it appeared, not coincidentally, happened to be the very day that I arrived in Japan.
|Exhibit A: a
Korean romantic comedy called "My Boyfriend is Type-B". Apparently Type B
is the wild and irresponsible personality type. Can't say I'm
surprised that this film never took off in the U.S. but now I'll have
to see if I can find it here!|