What’s the Deal With Blood Types in Japan?

So, today was the first time that I’ve ever donated blood in my entire life! I wish I could say that my reasons were purely altruistic, but I’d be lying. I really wanted to know what my blood type was. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of having to call my Dad have him search for my birth certificate and then get back to me later…I

Japanese Red Cross Mascot

wanted to know now. Sue, one of my private lesson students (short for Suzue) donates quite regularly and asked me if I wanted to come along. I filled out the questionnaire which I think is quite common for many blood donation centers, which relate to your health history, sexual activity, and the like. I think it was a busier day for the Japanese Red Cross because the whole thing took about 50 minutes from start to finish.
Do you know the four different blood types? If you don’t know, don’t sweat it, because I didn’t know until recently: A, B, AB, and O.

Without getting too complicated with positives and negatives (which denote the presence of Rh factor, another type of antigen, in your blood). The four different classifications denote the anitgens your blood produces. The simple, web definition of an antigen is “any substance (as a toxin or enzyme) that stimulates an immune response in the body” so A type blood produces A type antigens, B produces B type antigens, AB produces A and B antigens, whereas O produces none. What the hell does all that mean? Well in essence it means this:


Type A- Produces A antigens and Anti-B antibodies. So if you have A blood, your body fights against B type blood (B-antibodies). You can only receive A and O blood, and can donate to AB and other As.

Type B- Produces B antigens and Anti-A antibodies. With this type of blood your body fights type A blood (because of the Anti-A antibodies). You can receive B and O type blood. You can donate to AB and other Bs.

Type AB- Produces A and B antigens but no antibodies. AB is the “Universal Acceptor” blood type because it doesn’t have antibodies. You can receive blood from all of the types, but the downside is you can only donate to other ABs.

Type O- Doesn’t produce antigens but produces both Anti-A and Anti-B antibodies. O is the “Universal Donor” blood type, because there are no antigens, it doesn’t initiate an immune response during transfusions. Os can give to everybody! But you’re stuck if you need a transfusion, because your immune system fights A & B antigens. So that means A, B, and AB transfusions are out of the question. You can only accept O type blood.

In Japan, blood types are thought to be associated with personalities. Did you know that on the Japanese version of Facebook, that blood type is the only field on a person’s profile that isn’t present anywhere else? Neat, huh? The vast majority of Japanese people know their blood type, whereas most Americans don’t have a clue (at least I think so). So what personalities are associated with the different blood types?


Type A- Punctual, responsible, and reserved, but nervous, tense, and stubborn.

Type B- Wild, creative, and passionate, but selfish, moody, and unpredictable

Type AB-Individualistic, rational, and sociable, but indecisive, critical, and irresponsible.

Type O-Responsible, cheerful, and optimistic, but jealous, lonely, and rude.

Japanese Red Cross Donor Card

I found out after my donation, that I’m type O, which goes against what most Japanese people tell me. Most Japanese people think I’m a Type A. So I guess, blood-type/personality relationship only carries as much weight as you think it does, kind of like astrology I guess. As far as my personality goes, I do think I’m responsible and optimistic, but I’m never rude. So I don’t really believe the personality association, but it’s interesting, though.

After my 50-minute visit to the Japanese Red Cross, I left, four-hundred ml of blood lighter, feeling pretty good about myself…like I had done a good deed for the day…plus I got some Japanese Red Cross gifts. Now that I know I’m O (the universal donor), I’m going to start donating more regularly.

What’s your blood type?

Donald Ash

Japanese Red Cross Gifts

Japanese Red Cross Gifts

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  • Roger Starkey

    I’m glad that you had a positive experience with the Red Cross, and I’m glad you’re giving blood. I’d like to give blood (since I have a rare type,) but epilepsy medication keeps me out of it.

    The whole blood type thing comes out of “The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type” by Takeji Furukawa. Basically, this guy was looking for an excuse to oppress the Taiwanese, and he found out that a large number of them are type O, while most Japanese are type A.

    I really wish that more English teachers in Japan would give blood. It would give us a more positive image.

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks Roger, I’m glad it was a good experience, too. The nurses at the Japanese Red Cross were really nice and moreover they were pretty good with their needles, so I didn’t really feel any pain (I think the needles frighten people the most). I had never heard of that blood type book before. Another interesting fact, cool!

  • lopka

    Type O is a very cool blood type to have, isn’t it? You can donate to anyone =D

    I’m A type, but I guess very few people would describe me as punctual or nervous…
    Funny thing how most companies (clinics and the like) in Japan always have a mascot logo, isn’t it?

    • Donald Ash

      I like having O :) But A is a cool blood type to have, too.
      Yeah, the mascots can be pretty funny, right? The Red Cross mascot was the one of the most creative I had seen, so I had to get a picture.

  • paul

    They use blood types for matchmaking and compatibility in Japan

    • Donald Ash

      I read an article about that once in Time Magazine. I found it really interesting, but there’s no way I’m believing that two people are going to be compatible because of their blood type. Thanks for posting, Paul.

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