A, B, O, AB

In the first week of class I asked students to come up with 3 adjectives describing their personality, using a thesaurus to experiment with new vocabulary.

How about your blood type?

This is a detailed explanation of the role of “blood type personality theory” which used to be so popular in Japanese society (from Tofugu).

When I first came to Japan, one of the first questions people asked me as I got to know them was, “What’s your blood type?” I thought it was an odd question, asked as casually as “Where are you from?” or “What do you do?” (or maybe the often asked in Japan but less commonly asked by native speakers, “What’s your hobby?”). In fact, at the time I didn’t know what my blood type was because to me it was one of those things only doctors cared about.

Here’s a chart that uses lots of adjectives for personality. Can you guess which blood type this is?

These days, people don’t seem to care about blood type as much. Maybe it was the realization that, like horoscopes, trying to explain a person’s character through blood type is, at best, a good conversation starter. At worst, it can lead to what the article calls “blood harassment”.

Do you and your peers care about blood type? Is it something you ask about when you meet someone new? Have you heard any stories about blood type affecting a relationship? What about horoscopes — do you read them or believe them?

“I have drawn ‘spring’.”

According to this article in the Economist, the average peak-bloom date for cherry blossoms in Kyoto is getting earlier, probably because of climate change.

Here are some ukiyo-e featuring cherry blossoms with explanations in English. This is of a hanami party from the mid-19th century:

Discussion/Writing/Research questions:

  • Did you enjoy a hanami this year? Where do you think are the best places for different types of hanami (walking around type, sitting and eating/drinking type)?
  • How would you explain the word “hanami” to someone who does not speak Japanese, has never been here, and doesn’t know much about Japan?
  • Do you associate cherry blossoms more with entrance ceremonies or graduation ceremonies? If this trend continues and cherry blossoms continue to bloom earlier, what do you think will happen to this tradition?
  • In this excerpt from The Tale of Genji, it says that they celebrated the cherry blossoms in “the second month”. But they followed a different calendar in the Heian Period, didn’t they? What would that be today? Have you read Genji? What do you remember about it?

Vlogging Japan

This is a short advertisement/visual travelogue/vlog (video log) for the “Diamond Route” in northern Japan: Ibaraki, Tochigi and Fukushima prefectures. What do you think? Especially those of you who are from that area. Does it represent your home prefecture accurately?

It’s very much of a mini-movie, isn’t it? Definitely influenced by Hollywood-style “samurai movies”. It was a bit dizzying, too.

Here’s another in the series:

I like this one better because of all the food. 🍜

See more here.

Creative project: What kind of tourist ad or vlog would you make for your hometown? Your university? Tokyo or Kyoto or another city? Japan in general?