Should you scroll down to the bottom of the online page for the UK Guardian, there is a little tabbed section that lists the most viewed stories in the newspaper. Every day, as soon as I come into the site, I make my way there to read what others have been finding of such interest.
Today, there was an unusual article about how the Japanese seem to be obsessed with blood types. Now obsessed is a pretty strong word. Weighty enough that when used in reference to blood, I envision scenes of a Draculean nature. That blood obsessing was a craze in Japan, of all places, only piqued my curiosity further considering how I've been seriously tripping on strange stories about the Japanese. A few days ago for example, I saw this CNN clip on
Youtube about Elderly porn (strictly PG I promise). Yep. Elderly porn. As in porn by the geriatric set. Starring, you guessed it, Japanese grandfathers and grandmothers. Some sweet young things too but mostly, it's about the grandparents enjoying themselves.
According to a Time report, titles such as Maniac Training of Lolitas and Forbidden Elderly Care have proven so popular, that business is booming outside of what you'd consider its intended age market. In other words, the movies are being increasingly viewed by the young'uns for the seemingly hot, sweaty, if perhaps creaky-boned, sex.
"Director Gaichi Kono says the eroticism of elders is captivating to younger viewers. -I think that, as a subject, there is this something that only an older generation has and the young people do not possess. It is because they lived that much more. We should respect them and learn from them, - says Kono passionately." Time magazine
Then there was this reprint from the Washington Post today on BookofJoe about how theft committed by the elderly is on the rise in Japan. In 2006 on the island of Hokaido alone (population 5,583,072), 880 of them were so very unsuccessful at their shoplifting attempts, that they ended up getting arrested. Only 642 teens were hauled in for the same crime during that time period. That's a 3 to 2 advantage for the granny set. Unusual to say the least especially, as I have a distinct memory of Jane Seymour circa mid-1980's, explaining how theft was practically nonexistent in Japan in this PBS documentary. It's plain to see that much has changed in the 30 years since then. Enough so that the Bushidō code of conduct might be suffering a reversal by the generation most likely believed to continue upholding it.
All of which brings me to today's chronicled Japanese obsession with blood. Blood type to be precise. Here are some excerpts from the article to give you an idea what the hangup is all about.
Failed yet another job interview? Unable to meet the right man or woman? Don't blame your parents. Or society. The source of your suffering is your blood type.
The idea that blood type defines our personality, temperament and ability to mingle is routinely dismissed as nonsense, but that has not stopped four books on the subject from occupying Japan's top 10 bestseller list for the past year.
Blood typology has filled countless pages and a large chunk of television airtime since journalist Masahiko Nomi wrote the first of 30 hugely popular books on the subject in the early 1970s.
Daytime TV shows offer "blood horoscopes", while on sale are all manner of items supposedly tailored to each of the four blood groups, anything from chewing gum to condoms to bath salts - a relaxing, blue concoction for the sensitive type A.
Blood type-mania has a darker side. It has been blamed for bullying among kindergarten children, denying jobs to otherwise ideal candidates and ending happy relationships, all because of an imagined haematic mismatch.
About 90% of Japanese know their blood type, often before they know how to tie their shoelaces. About 40% are type A, 30% are O, 20% are B and 10% are AB.
Some experts explain blood typology's central place in the Japanese psyche by pointing to the rough similarity between the distribution of blood types and social classes in feudal Japan: the strong-willed samurai (O) and mild-mannered farmers (A), and smaller numbers of sensitive artisans (AB) and earthy tradesmen (B).
Type A Reserved and prone to worry, sensitive perfectionists such as Britney Spears and Adolf Hitler.
Type O Decisive, self-confident, curious, and ideal for sport, including Elvis Presley and the Queen.
Type B Cheerful caring, flamboyant free-thinkers such as Jack Nicholson.
Type AB High-maintenance, distant, suited to arts, such as Mao Zedong.Throughout my life I have of course witnessed discrimination, been subjected to it both knowingly and unknowingly, and if I am honest, harmlessly engaged in some of (within my mental recesses) my own. Of all the types of discrimination I have ever considered possible however, discrimination of the blood, as due to your blood type, was not one of them.
I can just see how this might play out:
Hi. My name is Hachigoro. I saw you from over there and I thought you were really cute.
Thanks. I'm Echiko (Blushing).
Echiko, if you don't mind my asking, what is your blood type?
Echiko (all business), I'm type B and you?
I'm type O.
Oh how wonderful, Echiko says (back to blushing).
Hey, my grandmother has been arrested for shoplifting so I'm staying at her apartment for the moment. She's got some great elderly porn there. Want to come and see?