About a year and a half ago, my kids and I were at Helsinki airport. Three Japanese ladies sat next to us at the departure gate. One asked whether we were going to Japan on holiday. I explained that we had been on holiday in Finland and were on our way back to Japan, where we currently lived. In turn, she said that they had been to an Ikebana (i.e. Japanese flower arrangement) conference in Germany and were on their way back to Osaka. Her name was Kawamoto and she was an Ikebana teacher at a culture centre in Osaka. She gave me her card and invited me to come and visit her class.
Regardless of my general indifference towards gardening, flowers and plants, I decided to visit Kawamoto sensei’s class, partly because I seemed to recall having heard that in Ikebana lines and proportions are important, i.e. it wasn’t really like typical Western flower arrangement, but something more ordered, which appealed to me.
I enjoyed the class and have carried on with the classes since then. However, regardless of having been to a number of classes, I am hopeless at arranging flowers. Kawamoto sensei and the other students make the arrangement look so easy. I, on the other hand, manage to create an arrangement that looks a bit like my 4-year old daughter’s hair in the mornings. ‘Clear lines’, ‘orderly’ or ‘aesthetically pleasing’ wouldn’t be the first expressions that my arrangements (or my daughter’s hair in the mornings) bring to mind.
Kawamoto sensei is very kind and she’s persevered with my inability to develop an eye for making beautiful arrangements. She stands next to me and moves a couple of twigs/flowers in my arrangement and voilà – instead of my daughter’s all over the place morning hairdo, the arrangement looks like some kind of a Toni and Guy number. (See photos of some of our joint creations above and below).
Ok. Now we get to the point of this blog post.
In my last Ikebana class, we finally figured out why I will never be an Ikebana star. It’s my blood type. I’m A, which means that, according to Kawamoto sensei, it is unlikely I would be an Ikebana artist.
You might be thinking to yourself, what does one’s blood type have to do with their ability to do Ikebana?
Apparently most Ikebana artists have the blood type B, including all the other 5 students in my class and Kawamoto sensei! A blood type B person is supposedly good at following instructions but is also creative – a born artist. On the other hand, my blood type apparently makes me an introverted perfectionist whose creative abilities are comparable to that of our classroom recycling bin.
In addition to Kawamoto sensei, I’ve experienced my students, some colleagues and random acquaintances asking me about my blood type, and comment on it. Most of them have actually said that they didn’t think I was A – I wonder what they thought I was…
In Japan, blood type is an important part of one’s personal information, and thus, something like 95% of Japanese people know their blood type. I’m guessing this figure is much lower in many Western countries, partly because this is information that outside East-Asia is really not of that much importance.
So, why is blood type of that much importance in Japan? Many Japanese people take blood type very seriously and believe that one’s blood type predicts one’s personality, so much so that some companies ask for job applicants to disclose their blood type in their job applications.
The characteristics associated with different blood types go along the following lines:
is an introverted, hard working perfectionist, whose cool and calm personality means that s/he performs well in stressful situations. This type of person is an expert in the planning and organization of things; often a control freak, and prefers to work alone. From the Japanese perspective, an A-person is a good, reliable (and importantly) a predictable employee.
is an extravagant, free-spirited, flexible artist or otherwise creative type who is keen to know everything about a topic they set their mind on but ultimately deviates from the norm to do it their own way. These people have a strong personality and thus they are not worried to speak their mind. They are not keen to change their ways or their viewpoint and this in turn means that they may come across as being stubborn. They can be forgetful and sometimes irresponsible.
is a confident, outgoing, sociable type who excels in physical tasks and gets enthusiastic about many things, but on the negative side does not necessarily stick with them. These people are often optimistic, are rarely moody and have a positive outlook on life.
is an introverted, cool and controlled person. I’ve heard the terms ‘genius’ and ‘criminal mastermind’ used when referring to AB. So, although they can be highly intelligent, the AB type is often associated with slightly peculiar personalities or with criminal tendencies. Also, people with AB blood type are said to sleep a lot (i.e. in during classes, at work). This is particularly noticeable in Japan as people seem to have no qualms about sleeping in public.The AB-type represents different personality traits. For instance, one day an AB-person can be charming but on a different day they can be aloof, or they can be responsible but only when it suits them. In Japan where unpredictability is under no circumstances a positive attribute, an AB person is seen as a difficult person to work with.
I have to say, I am facinated but extremely sceptical as to whether blood type determines one’s personality. I am not an expert in this field (obviously!), neither have I researched this exhaustively, but as far as I am aware, there are no scientifically sound studies showing a statistically clear link between one’s blood type and personality. However, in principle, I would be willing to accept that blood type could, perhaps, maybe, have some effect on one’s personality. After all, blood type seems to have an effect, for instance, on one’s likelihood of getting malaria, pancriatic cancer, stomach ulcers and heart disease. And more relevantly to the topic of this blog post, having a certain blood type has also been shown to decreace your risk for some cognitive functioning illnesses, like Alzheimers. Also, to some degree, one’s blood type seems to predict things like memory abilities and obsessiveness.
Since I am intrigued by this topic, I am hoping that maybe you would help me out with running a little (scientifically unsound) study on blood type.
I have created a list of most of my facebook friends (and those not on facebook) and have guessed what their blood type is by their personality.
Please comment in the comment box below or send me an email, a text message or a Facebook message and let me know what your blood type is and I will (a) let you know if I put you in the same category and (b) collate the results.
I’m really curious as to whether there is anything in this or not. Hope you are as well!