Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Laid-back and outgoing

I'm currently reading The Year of No Money in Tokyo by Wayne Lionel Aponte (a book that would have made a perfectly good blog, now there's faint praise). I was intrigued by a passage that I can't find anymore (that wouldn't happen with a blog). It went something like this:

"The conversation started out along the usual lines, "What's your blood group? Where do you live? Are you single".

And that's it. There is no explanation of why "What's your blood group?" would be an acceptable, never mind a common, conversation starter in Japan.

I've been wondering about this for the past few days and finally got round to googling it tonight. Fortunately, this old Indepedent article explains all. It turns out that the Japanese believe that each blood group has a corresponding personality type. I'm O which means that in Japan I would be expected to be outgoing and laid-back. I could live with that.

The article doesn't say whether or not rhesus factor is important in Japan. For the record I'm O- so I am a universal donor. This is quite academic however since the Agence Française du Sang politely declines my blood. It believes that I have a high risk of developing Creutzfeld-Jakob disease having lived in Britian in the early eighties.

The downsides of being O- are
a) that I had to have injections throughout my pregnancies because P. is O+ (really a very minor inconvenience when one thinks of the problems that those tiny jabs might be solving).
b) that I can only receive blood from another O- donor, and there aren't that many of us (only 6% of the French population is O- ). So if you're one of us, what are you waiting for? Get down to your local blood transfusion place and fill up my stocks.

Update: Wayne kindly e-mailed me with the passage in his book that I had mangled beyond all recognition. It reads:
"Students spend most of the time asking me the kind of questions one might expect in Japan on the first meeting: What’s your blood type? Do you like sushi? Do you like natto? Are you married? How old are you? Can you speak Japanese? Where are you from? Does everyone have gun in America? (They tend to drop indefinite articles.)"


Ms Mac said...

So you are able to donate blood to everyone but not receive? That's hardly fair.

I am B+ which means, "individualistic, sometimes even eccentric, sticking to his or her own pace, caring little for others and concentrating on well-defined goals or targets." Caring little for others I can get behind but concentrating on targets sounds like a lot of hard work.

BeefKing said...

in Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines, I have seen many many posted "help wanted" adverts, and it's typical to request "CV and biodata" from applicants. Blood type is an employment consideration. In the west, handwriting analysis was strating to come into play for prospective employers... but nowadays I think they probably just look at applicants' facebook pages.

deborah said...

Well that simplifies things a bit, just the four characteristics, much easier than twelve.

Do I seek to promote harmony in a group? Am I a natural follower rather than a leader? No, to the first and yes, to the second (much easier). It all sounds just as absurd as horoscopes. Nice to know the Japanese gullible too.

Feng shui anyone?

Lesley said...

MsMac: No it's definitely not fair. *sulks*

BeefKing: I honestly had no idea. I wonder of people lie about their blood groups, to make it sound as if they are suitable for the job they're applying for.

Deborah: and don't forget the "reliable wife and mother" bit!

Rosie said...

I'm ab pos...I must go and look myself up, if you know what I mean

deborah said...

So the author 'kindly' e-mailed you Lesley, I am impressed!

I once had a kind reply from Andrew Motion about one of his poems that I had said I had liked ...

Now how does one translate Lalalaireu? (pass, on that French spelling)!

Mim said...

Do you know Amelie Northomb's book, "Fear and Trembling"? It's an autobiographical novel based on her experiences working for a Japanese company in Japan. She's Belgian, born in Japan. I like the book a lot, and also the film based on it. I hope you get a chance to read it!

Lesley said...

Deborah:Can't beat that!

Mim: I haven't read any Amélie Nothomb. I tried one last summer but just couldn't get into it. I'll try again on your recommendation.

Betty C. said...

Interesting information. And I think they drop articles because they don't have them, right?

Thanks for dropping by my blog today. I've become hopeless about visiting other blogs for comments, but always enjoy hearing from the French expat community.

beaverboosh said...

i am definitely b positive

Jonathan Wonham said...

Being a regular blood donor when living in the UK, I tried to continue donating when moving to France. However, I was told that as a British person I was not allowed to donate since "I might have mad cow disease".