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Bura-Hara: Blood Type Harrassment or Discrimination

February 4th 2009 15:02

Perhaps if you're a stranger to Japanese culture - and you're dumped into everyday Japanese life all of a sudden - you'll realise one thing: the question "What blood type are you?" pops up a lot. It's almost as typical as "So, what nationality background are you?" in Western culture.

It's like a cultural frenzy where people seem to need to know your blood type. So much so that you often see "Blood type" under anime character and celebrity profiles. Even Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso (and other politicians) feels the necessity to state his blood type on his website. The fact that four out of Japan's 2008 Top 10 Selling books were related to the topic is perhaps another indication of Japan's blood type obsession.

It appears as though the Japanese believe that a person's blood type determines their personal traits/character. To read more about that, click here.

While it seems like a bit of harmless fun (like when we read our zodiac horoscopes), it seems as though some people are taking it too far.

Japan has recently coined the term "Bura-Hara" (Blood Type Harrassment). It appears as though people are using Blood Types for serious matters. Matchmaking services in Japan are known to "match-up" people according to "Blood-type" compatibilities. Meanwhile, there are employers who are said to be discriminating against prospective candidates when they ask the question: "What is your blood type?" Read the AP news report here.

Katchi's Opinion?

I find it intriguing that in a society that encourages homogeneity, they still find ways (no matter how obscure) to discriminate / differentiate. However, on the flip-side, this could also be an indication of how the Japanese "love" to feel like they belong to a certain group - that they bear some similarities down to the blood level.

Whether or not "Bura-Hara" will truly bear any real harm to people is uncertain. Perhaps it's because as an outsider, I see this as quite comical. However to a native Japanese person, it could be something very real and serious.
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6 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by D. Armenta

February 4th 2009 15:36
Very interesting article.

I've found in my travels that many humans, regardless of nationality, want to belong to a group. Never understood that, myself.

So how do you respond? Do you tell them? A friend of mine in Hong Kong gave me a great response to questions like that: "Please don't concern yourself about me, I'm fine."

Politest way possible of saying "None of your f*cking business"...

Comment by KaTchI

February 4th 2009 16:12
Thank you for reading D. Armenta. =]

Well, in Japan they do tend to ask a lot of "personal" questions. To the blood type question, I say "I don't know." Which is basically an honest answer. I find it that in Western societies, unless there are medical issues, we usually don't keep track of such details.

Comment by Chris Champion

February 4th 2009 17:45

Comment by D. Armenta

February 4th 2009 19:46
It's true. I used to get very offended when I lived in the Far East at the tendency of locals to get, more in my personal space than I'm used to. Once I got to know the locals, I had great affection for them and realized that their ways were just different from mine; I stopped taking offense and learned to live with it, but never got used to it.

What an interesting blog. I'm going to subscribe to it. Please keep writing about your experiences in Japan.

Comment by KaTchI

February 5th 2009 00:53
Oh yes, when it comes to the Far East/Middle East, a lot of the cultures have different perceptions of what is "acceptable" when it comes to social intercourse. I had an experience when a Middle Eastern classmate of mine kept talking right at my face and touching my shoulder with a pat or something like that. Apparently it's a polite and friendly way of discussing - to keep your distance would be offensive.

I guess I'm too used to the Australian Western culture.

Comment by Cibbuano

February 5th 2009 02:15
It is crazy - I suppose as crazy as people that ask your for your sign...

... it's weird, though, in Asian girlie mags, they publish the model's blood type, and I never know what to think about that. Should I be excited?

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