Since yesterday I mentioned how the Japanese have no problem announcing the personal to the public, today I thought I’d talk about the personal nature of the questions people are often asked prior to the personal being made public.
The first question I always get is “How tall are you?” My first reaction is “Why the hell do you need to know that?” but then I realize such questions are possible back home and in Japan I used to be freakishly tall compared to most Japanese–that’s slowly changing–and I decide to answer. But that leaves me with a problem: Do I tell them I’m 6’2″ and shrinking knowing it will be lost on them or do I spend a minute doing metric conversions and tell them I’m 188 centimeters tall?
The second question is “What is your shoe size?” Again, I have a problem. It’s not that one foot is a 12 and the other foot is a 12.5, it’s that I don’t actually know my shoe size in Japan as the stores rarely have shoes that fit and I’m forced to import. I think I’m a 31 but I can also wear a 29 in some brands. This question is so popular I’ve had naked guys in saunas stick their feet next to mine in order to compare foot size. This usually triggers a response along the lines of “What the hell are you doing? Do you know how gay that is?” (Because, going to a bathhouse and getting naked with your male friends once a week is totally not gay, right?)
The third question is the Japanese equivalent of “What is your sign?” The problem here is they don’t understand “Scorpio” they want to know if I’m a tiger, snake, dragon, rat or any of the other eight signs in the Chinese zodiac. The answer is “I’m a horse.” (And by the way, 2014 is the Year of the Horse so #$%^ you, rats, sheep, roosters and pigs.)
The fourth, and most important question, though is “What is your blood type?” Here, positive and negative variations are unimportant, all that matters is A, B, O or AB. In my case I tell them “I’m A.” As soon as I do this people typically go “oooh” and their smiles become more forced and they look around to make sure they know where their children are (even if they don’t have kids). A’s are considered calm, patient, sensitive, responsible, overcautious, stubborn, and unable to relax. (Pay no attention to those contradictions behind the curtain…) It’s also interesting to note that famous A’s include Adolph Hitler, Ringo Starr and Britney Spears. (I think it’s that last one that worries them the most.)
There are other random questions about income and weight but they aren’t that important. The best question is reserved for women: “What is your BWH?” (Meaning Bust, Waist, Hips.) It’s a terrible thing for someone to ask, but it is fun to watch a Western woman get asked it.