Each prefecture breeds a different personality type

TOKYO —

Hokkaido people are outgoing and hospitable; Niigata folk may not say much but they’ll stand by you in a crisis. Iwate breeds patience and endurance; Nara, pessimism and conservatism; Hiroshima, cheery optimism. Tokyo? Full of country bumpkins giving themselves big-city airs.

Tell me where you’re from and I’ll tell you who you are. This is not folklore, it’s science. “The place where you’re born and raised has more to do with molding your character than DNA does,” Shukan Post (July 30) hears from Shinichi Yano, director of Number One Strategic Research Center.

Yano’s subject is “kenminsei” – the peculiar character that each of Japan’s 47 prefectures tends to inculcate in its native sons and daughters. It’s a good subject to be versed in if you’re in business, or in love, or concerned with the fate of the country. Prime Minister Naoto Kan, for instance, is from Yamaguchi Prefecture, home to the Choshu warrior clan that was instrumental in launching the epoch-making Meiji Restoration of 1868. Pride and temper are local character traits. Kan’s nickname is “Ira-Kan,” a reference to his famous irritability. Now you know where he gets it from.

Yano supervised a survey of 2,000 businesspeople, aged 20-something to 60-something, to discover which prefectures breed the best bosses and best subordinates. Who would have guessed that the most popular bosses hail from chilly, hardscrabble Aomori? Stubborn they certainly are, in keeping with the local image, but at least you know where you stand with them, and “subordinates value that,” says Yano.

Bosses, meanwhile, prefer underlings from the opposite end of the country – Kagoshima. Like Yamaguchi, Kagoshima boasts samurai virtues, notably bravery and a strong sense of hierarchy. These keep obedient noses to the grindstone. Miyazaki Prefecture, though next door, has an altogether different ambience – warm, easygoing, optimistic. That’s good, too, in its way, and Miyazaki comes in second in rearing good subordinates.

The bosses from hell are likely to come from either Tottori Prefecture (worst) or Kyoto (second worst). Tottori has long winters, Kyoto a long history. The one induces stolid, blunt-spoken endurance, the other arrogance.

In business or love, compatibility – hard to define but you know it when it’s there – goes a long way. That, too, can depend on prefecture of origin. The two most mutually compatible prefectures in the country, says Yano, are Kanagawa and Hyogo, owing largely to the international character of their main cities, Yokohama and Kobe respectively. The two least compatible are impatient, egocentric, effervescent Osaka and taciturn, haughty Iwate.

  • 0

    motogaijin

    Gotta love pseudo-science!

  • 0

    borscht

    Match the prefecture-specific personality (there are no variations of people within a prefecture, of course) and the blood type personality (there are no variations of people within blood type, of course) and viola: Your perfect husband/wife/boss/worker/prime minister. No reason to actually get to know anyone, just hometown and blood type. What could be easier? Agree with motogaijin whole-heartedly.

  • 0

    amannin1

    Note to self-proclaimed boss from hell, when searching for underlings to do thy bidding, look no further than Kagoshima. If all fails, head to Miyazaki.

    Who needs that archaic zodiac nonsense when you have science!

  • 0

    ultradodgy

    4 seasons X 47 prefectures. What a rainbow of diversity.

  • 0

    NationalistRE

    Yes, considering how most gaijin who can't even tell Asian nationals from one another, the task of discerning Japanese regional identities is such an asinine ordeal.

  • 0

    gaijinfo

    They shouldn't publish this information. It makes it too easy for spies to slip into other prefectures and blend in.

  • 0

    tokyochris

    It's the blood-type rubbish all over again :-/

  • 0

    dolphingirl

    This is not science. It's folklore. 'Tell me where you’re from and I’ll tell you who you are.'--Yeah right! Of course where you are from has an effect on your character. Obviously A person who grows up in a big city is gonna be different than one who grows up in a small town but it is utter nonsense to believe that each prefectures 'breeds' a different personality type. This is just putting people into boxes.

  • 0

    bicultural

    I think you guys are taking it a bit too far. Using this as a "guide" and not as a "bible" can actually help understand people and why they act the way they do. I couldn't understand why my Japanese wife wasn't more sympathetic when I got sick, but then I heard the people from the "shitamachi" in Tokyo don't go to the doctors and use "kiai" to get better. It explained a lot and I realized she wasn't trying to act cold toward me.

  • 0

    susano

    NationalistRE.... its nothing to do with regional identities, but prefectural. Can you tell the difference between a German, a Dutch, and a Dane?

  • 0

    Mikanojo

    I was born and spent most of mai life living in Sapporo.. and while i am inclined to be hospitable with this man and his work, i fear i maybe suffer a slight imbalance for having moved away to live in USA - i am suddenly just not outgoing enough to accept his work as being science. I would say that it IS astute observation of trends.. and trends DO have a bad habit of being accurate, but only when speaking in general terms.. not when considering the whole of an individual. We are more than the sum of our parts. Environment and society absolutely DO have effects on how we cope with them, and so hai.. People often logically fall into a habit of using certain traits, because they allow us to better cope with that society. But for every 10 that fit there is the 1 misfit. For every 10 that agree there is the 1 who disagrees, and for every 10 that simply follow the path of least resistance there is at least one who will swim upstream ne? So this is only observation of trends, not exactly hard science at all - good for predicting things like fashion and popularity of movies maybe but not for much else.

  • 0

    ivarwind

    Even on the ridiculous assumption that there was a strong prefecture/personality-correlation, the statistical basis is both too limited to make any real conclusions (as opposed to arbitrary headlinefriendly generalizations) and has a selection bias of unknown but probably quite large magnitude.

    Surveying only business people could lead to any number of errors. Imagine for instance that people from Miyazaki come in two main categories - one of them warm and easygoing, the popular subordinates found here, the other maybe larger category completely useless and unpleasant creeps, who if they ever got a job, would lose it again in a week (this is of course only a hypothetical example and like the article has nothing to do with real people from Miyazaki or anywhere else). The result would be as stated, because only the nice people would be included in the survey. Anyone who then went out and employed people from Miyazaki because "they are good subordinates" would get a nasty surprise.

    Anyway the basis is too small. With an average of 40 people per prefecture - which already isn't much - some prefectures no doubt are represented by less than ten, way too little to reach any statistically significant conclusions (like Tottori, he most likely only has one or at most two bosses from there in the entire survey, statistics from hell, not bosses from hell). It's not even enough to say confidently whether someone from a given prefecture would be likely to have two legs and a head (there are other ways of predicting that, if needed).

    The limited sample and the selection bias in combination make it impossible to determine any difference between the sexes - several prefectures may not be represented by any women at all - and the extension to love compatibility is utter nonsense.

  • 0

    presto345

    I have nothing negative to contribute. There is plenty of that already - as usual. I think this analysis by Yano is very interesting and he certainly is correct in suggesting that people from different regions just ARE different.

  • 0

    Beelzebub

    I've noticed that Osaka people are far more creative in their public toilet graffiti. I haven't seen any good scrawls in Tokyo for ages.

  • 0

    Tim_Fox

    These kinds of conclusions are made in every country. Think about west coast or east coast "mentality" in the US and Canada, or the idea of the "well-mannered" southerner in the US. Then people harbor how people of different race / ethnicities are supposed to act everywhere.

  • 0

    whyamiinjapan

    YAY, Tottori. The people from hell. Ha haaa!

  • 0

    S7ro9kGm3aQ

    Tokyo? Full of country bumpkins giving themselves big-city airs.

    This is undeniably true.

  • 0

    Tessa

    I have never met a person from Tokyo who was actually born in Tokyo.

  • 0

    Tokyoapple

    The Number One Strategic Research Center? All I can picture is an office with a bunch of chimps banging away at keyboards and fling their feces at each other.

  • 0

    Klein2

    "The limited sample and the selection bias in combination make it impossible to"

    Oh brother. Would you believe it if it satisfied all the appropriate criteria? I wouldn't. The presuppositions are still stupid.

    Assuming that geography is more important than DNA, then how is someone from northern Niigata supposed to be different from someone from southern Yamagata? If personalities change as soon as people set foot over some arbitrary political demarcation, what would explain that? Add in the 20 or so factors that would make a bigger difference in people's attitudes, such as income level, family size, birth order, or education to name a few, one would probably find that the geography factor totally washes out.

    Then factor in differences in time and generation. Have Tokyo people always been that way? Papa and Grandpa and little Taro too? Yeah right.

    "Doing the math" to show that this whole idea is meaningless is a waste of time. I feel sorry for the 2000 people who had to do this survey, and the thousands of people who bothered to read the results.

    For what it is worth, I have met a lot of people who were born in Tokyo. Every one of them decided to rent out their Tokyo property and live high on the hog someplace else. That's what I would do.

  • 0

    Sarge

    "This is not folklore, it's science."

    It is not, it's rubbish.

  • 0

    bicultural

    Maybe some of you should watch the "kenmin-show." Quite enlightening and entertaining.

  • 0

    motogaijin

    I have never met a person from Tokyo who was actually born in Tokyo.

    I have, but that's beside the point. I think every one in every country believes this about people who live in their biggest city--A bunch of people who come from the middle of nowhere and put on airs to distance themselves from their less than sophisticated roots. People have written countless novels and plays about this very theme.

  • 0

    Monkeyz

    Oh goodness. While your environment does shape you in certain ways, it has more to do with the culture of the people around you than the imaginary section of land you live in.

    Everyone is always shocked when I tell them my blood type. They also assume that I'm from a big city back home. People are different. Simple as that. You can make some assumptions and be right some of the time, but probably 51% at best.

  • 0

    DuraAce

    Blood type has NOTHING to do with personality; how could it?

    I understand that the area a person grows up in will affect their personality, or at least their social outlook, to an extent.

  • 0

    Klein2

    "You can make some assumptions and be right some of the time, but probably 51% at best."

    Which really is just saying that you should not make assumptions. Flipping a coin would be just as accurate, or would give an answer that is not distinguishable from making assumptions. The coin uses a lot less brain power too.

    "understand that the area a person grows up in will affect their personality, or at least their social outlook, to an extent."

    Someone had confirmation bias for breakfast this morning. You assume that it will because... why? You said "the area", but you really mean family, school, number in the household, and other things, right? But what YOU SAID is that a geographical area in which a person grows up affects their personality? Uh. No.

  • 0

    DuraAce

    OK, if we take a step back on this, to get the bigger picture, a person from, say, England, will have an entirely different set of reference points which have formed a part of their personality, than someone from, say, China.

    If we now zoom back in, these differences are not going to be so obvious, but they will be there.

    Think England, for a second. People from Newcastle, and people from London; noticeably different on a number of levels.

    And I didn't say, 'geographical area', I said 'area'. You are twisting my words.

  • 0

    Klein2

    I think you twisted your words. The article is about politically defined regions within Japan. Specifically, they are prefectures. The article is trying to say that a person who lives two meters inside of Nagano is distinguishably different from someone living four meters away in Niigata. That is absurd.

    If you agree that there are many things different between England and China that have nothing to do with their global coordinates or relation to magnetic north, then we can agree. But you did say area: not culture, not nation, not even type of area, such as urban or rural. You chose your words, and they did not imply any economic, cultural, or certainly national difference. Any one of those has more of an effect on who a person is than the global coordinates of their residence.

    So thanks for clarifying.

  • 0

    Klein2

    Hey. Why so important right? It is just a fluff survey, right? Well does it occur to anyone that this kind of generalization is just a hop, skip and jump away from saying that all Africans are this and that, or all Spaniards are this and that?

    Based on nothing whatsoever, people are inkleined to believe that groups are INHERENTLY invested with some arbitrary trait and that they have been since the beginning of time. If you believe that, then why not believe that Japanese people are inherently warlike, or that Jewish people are inherently bad at sports? Why not? Especially if it "explains a lot"?

    This kind of survey and the thinking it cultivates are insipid AND insidious.

  • 0

    DuraAce

    Clearly you should know by now that I never read the articles, and just reply to the comments.

  • 0

    DuraAce

    Klein2, "inkleined"

    Nice!

  • 0

    Klein2

    OK Ace. Let's have a beer.

  • 0

    daisan

    Maybe some of you should watch the "kenmin-show." Quite enlightening and entertaining.

    So you believe everything you see on TV? Just kidding but sometimes the amazement they show with the most trivial things like they were from another planet is just stupid, entertaining yeah, but stupid. So people have different customs and traditions, surprise! I enjoy the tenkin drama though, the model that plays the wife is so lovely.

  • 0

    tkoind2

    More absurd Japanese nonsense about putting people into tiny little boxes. Pseudoscience like the whole idiotic blood type thing that noone bothers to remember was a part of fascist racialist profiling.

    And I am proof. No one ever guess I am American because I don't fit in the box they have defined. I fail to live up to my blood type behavior. And my astrology signs don't fit me much either. Not a single person in the US every guessed what state I was from. And people in my home state thought I was from somewhere else. And the same goes for most of my good friends.

    The truth is, most people do not fit in these idiotic boxes. It is just nonsense to sell magazines and take up pointless chat time at Izakaya.

  • 0

    AlfGarnett

    I agree with tkoind2 it`s all a load of cobblers.

    Surely we1ve gone past all this putting labels on people and all that. Blimey used to be about what country, now about what part of the country. This is like medieval supersticious codswallop.

  • 0

    NationalistRE

    Yes I can

  • 0

    BurakuminDes

    Interesting. I have had quite a few (older) students of mine remark - "Osaka people are bad people/aggressive/emotional/like gaijin" or words to that effect. As an outsider we can see it is nonsense - but ridiculous generalisation seems common in every culture!

  • 0

    Nessie

    Shukan Post (July 30) hears from Shinichi Yano, director of Number One Strategic Research Center.

    = where I stopped reading

  • 0

    DuraAce

    Klein2; yeah man, anytime! Beer is good.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    So what are the people from Okinawa like? I didn't see them listed in the article. (puts on helmet and retreats into a nearby foxhole) :-D

  • 0

    supemorgan8

    @Fadamor: People from Okinawa are kind and light hearted, they understand the values of diversity but also the importance of one's own culture! Or thats what I gathered. I was pleased to see what this article said about Iwate-Ken, cause thats where I lived for quite a while. I met a friend there who came from Okinawa and what I wrote up there is what I truly believe! Now I am in Tokyo... sigh.

  • 0

    Himajin

    4 seasons X 47 prefectures. What a rainbow of diversity.

    :-D

  • 0

    Eddisofbextar

    Toyama breeds people who wont lift a finger while dude drags girl into train bathroom to be raped. true story.

    Wait a second... that isnt just Toyama, I've seen similar acts of ignoring crime around themselves in multiple prefectures.

  • 0

    alladin

    All in all, every prefecture is filled to the brim with a bunch of idiots that doesnt know from their left to their right. They all dont posses much common sense and they have no brains to think with. Yes, you have some prefectures that are worse than others, but when you truly think about it, they are all in the same boat that was built with a bunch of rotten wood.

  • 0

    tranel

    What's the personality type for Tokyo? More than a few negative traits come to mind, but I thought I'd let your imaginative minds come up with a reasonably accurate stereotype instead... get to work, boys and girls! :-)

  • 0

    Psyops

    What Japan needs is California Girls! ;P

  • 0

    Klein2

    Now Ginza girls are hip, I really dig those styles they wear Hokkaido girls with the way they kiss, they knock me out when I'm up there....

    woo woo.....

    I wish they all could be Ro o ppongi Girls....

    somebody help me out with harmonies and keyboard solos.

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