Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Smellscapes of Japan - Part ONE

In 2014 I published an essay of articles on urban smells dedicated to Victoria Hensaw - the Queen of Smellscapes (or olfactive maps).That article evolved one entire theory that we are loosing the sense of the smell of our "home" due to globalization. Once you have the same shops, the same bakeries, the same chain of brands everywhere, you have also a globalization of smells, which are little by little substituting and sometimes even erasing the local ones: 

"In a world of globalization and virtual living we have developed a lack of emotional connection to what is local. We are less aware of our surroundings and we are not fully experiencing the "materiality" of things. Being less contemplative and less emotionally connected to a local environment although it may sound very modern and hip, it is also drifting us away from our origins. We are loosing our identities as urban citizens. Where we come from and who we are. We no longer recognize the smell of "home" because we became urban nomads, modern gypsies."

Really concerned about the lost of our scent heritage I did a journey in my own town São Paulo to try to collect some local smell identity.Truth is that I have been collecting smells from every city I visit. Some I have shared here in my blog over the years. 

Victoria Hensaw's life work played a crucial role in my smell walks and made me fully understand how important it is to identify and map these smells and also improve my knowledge of how to map and how to catalogue smells. Unfortunately she has passed away in 2004. When I found out about her she was already sick, so I never got to do her smell walks that I dreamed so much of joining one day. But the inspiration did not die with her and I continue to do my olfactive journeys...  

Jumping to the present...

Photo credit: + Q Perfume Blog

I just came back from a trip to Japan and inspired by something that I also wrote in that article of 2014 about this country made me wish to write a piece on Japan:

"...Japan is an exception in a way. Although eager to have food chains like any other country according to the specialist, it is the country that has one of the most advanced attitudes towards the olfactory sense and its relationship to place, going as far as declaring “One Hundred Sites of Good Fragrance” across the country. From the sea mist of Kushiro to the Nanbu rice cracker of Morioka, not to mention the distinct smell of glue that hangs in the air around the doll craftsmen’s homes in Koriyama, all now have protected status..."

Curious about the concept of the 100 Sites of Good Fragrance? 

It is a project developed by the Ministry of Environment of Japan, and in their own words:

The Ministry of the Environment has introduced the olfactory measurement method to the odor control law to further solve the problem of odor caused by urban / life type pollution which is increasing in recent years, and is promoting the spread of it more In addition to that, we adopted a new way of thinking about the Kaori environment, "We will rediscover the good fragrance around us, conscious of the various smells around us through noticing Kaori, actively work on improving unpleasant smell Regional activities "that we would like to promote. Therefore, as part of supporting regional efforts to preserve and create good scent and its natural environment and culture - the Kaori environment - 100 points that are particularly excellent as a Kaori environment "100 Kaori Landscapes" We decided to implement the project. Regarding the candidate for 100 candidate sites, there were 600 entries from all over the country during the three months from May 25 th this year to the end of August, as candidates for "100 Kaori Landscapes." By entrant, there were 512 local governments and 88 individuals.(extracted from the Ministry's website)

I must admit that did not visit the 100 sites of Good Fragrance therefore I can't really write about them, but instead, I decided to share my own collected smell perceptions of Japan during this last Spring.


I know you can't wait for this journey to start, but before we step in this fragrant path there are some facts about Japan related to fragrance that I think it is worth mentioning here.

To those of you who followed me in Japan in Facebook you know I mentioned the fact that Japanese culture in general is contraditory and ambivalent. 

Side walk in Shinjuku, Tokyo near perfume store
Photo credit: + Q Perfume Blog

As an example, you will find non smoking signs on the streets. They have specific hidden corners where groups of smokers gather to share their vice, and yet people are allowed to smoke in restaurants while eating. SO, public open free space is not a place to produce smoke and bad smells, but blowing it on people's face while they eating it is not only allowed but almost a must. Actually they will find quite surprising that you don't mix Malboros with sushi. 

Photo credit: + Q Perfume Blog

The contradition and ambivalence are also applied to the perfume culture of Japan.

1. You will see 1000s of shops selling perfumes, but you will rarely find Japanese wearing them. 

Also ambivalent regarding perfumes: 

2. Japanese don't wear perfume but in Japan you find a perfume sommaliers. 

To understand what a Japanese perfume sommalier does, Kazutoshi Kato, one of the 14 perfume sommaliers of Japan certified by Bluebell Japan Ltd describes his job he explains:

“It is my job to select a scent that matches the customer. It is also my duty to teach the customer how to wear and preserve perfume, and how to observe proper manners when wearing it. He adds: "It is not just about knowing as many perfumes as possible, though that is necessary as well. You need to know the historical background of fragrance, how to describe each scent, how to display the perfume on the counter, and even the anatomy of the nose and how it works.” (Kato has been selling Bluebell’s perfume imports at the Isetan department store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district since 2001).

In 2003 Bluebell Japan introduced a perfume sommelier degree, a certificate awarded to Bluebell employees who meet certain qualifications. One of them being to pass the fragrance sales test conducted by the Japan Fragrance Association, and in order to pass this test it is necessary to have a wide knowledge of the perfume industry and of fragrance in general.

Yes fragrant friends, they have experts in fragrance, but will Japanese people wear the fragrances they are advising to purchase? Not really.

Photo credit: + Q Perfume Blog

3. Japanese people has almost no body odors.

Regarding this subject I have always heard things like "you smell of what you eat". If that was 100% accurate Japanese people would smell like fish, soy, ginger... wouldn't they? Well, they don't.

Japanese people in the subway smell good after one long day of working. They don't have a pronounced body odor, nor does the subway stink. Ridding the subway you will notice the difference from a New York subway train right away!

Although Gwen Stefani has launched in 2005 a line of fragrances called Harajuku Lover, inspired by the Harajuku street fashionistas you can be in a crowd in the middle of the day in the fashion district of Harajuku, where you can't barely move, and all you will smell is delicate flowery shampoos, fresh washed clothes and crêpes (we will address to this aroma later on).

Experts explain that one reason why the Japanese fragrance market is still relatively small is simply due to what is claimed to be a racial characteristic of Japanese people: They have a lower tendency to develop body odor.

“In Western countries, people originally used perfume to conceal their body odor,” says Akiko Ryu, the deputy general manager of the perfume and cosmetics division of Bluebell Japan. “Most Japanese people, however, hardly have any body odor. Therefore, perfume is not a necessity.”

That explains why Japanese subways and crowds are not smelly. (they don't bring food and beverages to the subway like new Yorkers do...)

I confess that while traveling in the subway I wanted to come closer to the Japanese standing next to me and take better sniff, but since they have a cultural imposition of minding your own space - "don't touch me, don't even look at me if possible" rule, I did not dare to do so.

If you guys want to go deeper on this subject I found an interesting/fun video in youtube made by Rachel from the Rachel & June channel that actually explains in a fun and easy to understand the chemistry and genetics of Japanese people:

So by now you are wondering... How come there are successful fragrances like L'Eau d'Issey by Issey Miyake, Flower by Kenzo or houses like Shiseido and Hanae Mori if Japanese don't wear fragrances? It is indeed a mystery to me. There are Japanese perfume brands, there are perfume shops in Japan...but I am yet to find a Japanese person wearing perfume. Maybe perfume wearers gather in hidden corners to share their passion like the smokers do. 

I read an article in a blog about living in Japan as a foreigner that Japanese people consider perfume an accessory only for very important people or for women that "work at night", but I had no confirmation on the matter. 

Photo credit:  + Q Perfume Blog

4. You notice in Japan the absence of perfume in the air (personal scent), but the fragrances of household cleaning products, hygiene and laundry products are definitely there, almost like an entity.  

Truth is while in Japan you notice that they have a near obsession to cleaning and hygiene. This cultural emphasis on cleanliness is thought to be originated from the influence Japanese religion Shinto. By the way, 80% of the Japanese population is devoted to Shinto religion which is translated to the Traditional Religion of Japan with 81,000 temples. Shinto suggests that there are more than 8 million deities (Kami or Shin) in the daily objects and as they hate impurities the followers of the religion and the world around them must be purified and cleaned constantly thought ritual of purification (Harai) with water baths.

Photo credit: + Q Perfume Blog

According to one of the laws of Buddhism, another popular religion of Japan, it is forbidden to wear ornaments and perfumes. So one can assume that Japanese use very little or no fragrances at all due to some sort of religious belief.

And to finish this chapter: 

More smelly facts about Japanese culture extracted from the paper - "Japanese Fragrance Descriptives and Gender Constructions: Preliminary Steps to a Cross-Cultural Study" by Brian Moeran, Copenhagen Business School:

1. The Japanese make conscious use of smell in their everyday lives. 
2. Japanese have been concerned to get rid of smell, rather than add it in the way that Westerners do… There was a period earlier when Japanese added things to stop smells – as in lavatories, for example – but nowadays the idea is to produce things that do not smell in the first place.
3. Compact living styles in close quarters encourage either milder forms of smell.
4. If Japan is marked by a smell culture that is based more on ‘odourlessness’ than ‘odour’, we may wonder how fragrance companies advertise their products in Japan and how Japanese themselves react to modern – primarily Western – perfumes and the use thereof. In the early 1990s, it was remarked that the Japanese fragrance market constituted a mere 3 per cent of the total cosmetics market, as compared with 30 per cent in Europe (Wilk 1993: 52).
5. The Japanese vocabulary of smell appears, initially at least, to be as undeveloped as smell vocabularies in other languages, although it would seem to prefer to use ‘pure’ Japanese rather than foreign loanwords in its main classifications. There appears to be some continuity between contemporary Japanese and Heian Court aesthetics in terms of elegance, gorgeousness, sensuality and attraction (cf. Gatten 1977:44-46). The use of ‘sexiness’ is the exception here and suggests a strong Western influence, although the exact definition of ‘sexiness’ remains vague and imprecise. It may be possible to pursue the analysis of fragrance descriptives with reference to Adrienne Lehrer’s (1983) study of the vocabulary of wine appreciation.  

Stay put because in the next chapter we will start our fragrant Journey!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Mais uma vez em parceria com a Revista atualidade Cosmética, participei de uma entrevista sobre o mercado da perfumaria de nicho.
É muito gratificante poder dividir meus conhecimentos com pessoas da indústria de fragrâncias e ser reconhecida como fonte de informação idônea e atualizada sobre o assunto.

Obrigada Carol Rodrigues e Equipe da Atualidade Cosmética!

Monday, January 2, 2017


"The desert is unpredictable, enigmatic. One minute you will be smelling dust. The next, the desert can smell just like the rain." (Gary Nabham - The Desert Smells Like the Rain)

Continuing the journey where you can see a never ending horizon and feel the breeze of freedom on the face I will share a secret with you. Although I am a super urban person, I have two passions - taking a road challenge and deserts.  
Believe it or not my dream trip is to hit the road on a Hippie Trail. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the Hippie Trail or The Overland we need to go back in time. It was journeys that youngsters took during the 60's and early 70's, from Europe to India, Nepal and beyond, usually in an old Volkswagen vain, by train, by bus or hitchhiking. 7.000 miles in the lowest budget possible, meeting other adventurers  and interacting with locals at each stop.  

Hippies trails were taken so young people could scape from conventional lifestyles, feel the freedom, be enlighten, "go native" (as in be naked and natural) and smoke weed. A lot of weed. 
The classic hippie trail ended in 1979 when the Slamic Revolution in Iran and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Russians closed the overland route to western travellers.

Alternative tourism is my thing. Feeling the wind on my face and driving long hours to meet the horizon is also me. I would never take a trip on a cruise or with those annoying tourist guides. I like to mingle with locals, take my time, sip a cup of their coffee and listen to their stories. To know a country is to know the people, the culture.
But I am no hippie. I like to shower and eat good food. I would never think of Afghanistan...I have taken trips to deserts in Israel thou. 
For your surprise I was always the one driving the car or the van. I drove along the Incense Trail, the Negev, the Judaean beautiful, but so One have weird experiences such as mirages and other visions. The heat simply takes over your brain and you literally trip out from it... 

The hippie style dream trail to me would be cross the entire USA in an a van, specially and conquer its deserts. I dream of sitting nowhere in the desert, listening to good music and just do nothing besides watching the sundown.

I would simply love to take route 66; smell creosotes in the Mojave desert on route 247; smell the green watery scent of cactuses; the mushroom-y odor of Joshua trees blooming; the herbaceous scent of sage, the resinous woody christmas-y smell of pine; the earthy, mineral and dusty smell of sand and dirt... 

Well, my dream will not come true in the near future so I decided to put up a list list of fragrances that best describe the smells of the desert and get us in the Hippie vintage adventurous mood. I will be an olfactory journey or a Scent journal of a Hippie Trail.

Needless to say that sandalwood and patchouli were the favs of hippies. It is said that hippies used patchuli to desguise the smell of marijuana and the BO and sour body odors because they didn't take showers. 
Although I am not into hippie scents, patchouli is one of my most beloved scents after iris. Click on the link and you will have many fragrances reviews with all kids of patchouli based fragrances and a huge list of options!
If you want a complete hippie experience, be my guest with MALIN + GOETZ CANNABIS PERFUME OIL (Notes of fig, pepper, orange, lemon, sandalwood and patchouli).

For a original hippie patchouli fragrance of the 70's experience with ingredients of the overland you should try INOUBLIABLE ELIXIR PATCHOULI BY REMINISCENSE. Launched in the seventies, it was reissued in 2007.(Notes of virginian cedar, patchouli from Java, Haitian vetiver, Australian sandalwood, frankincense, vanilla from Madagascar, tonka, tolu and light musk.

Now you got yourself into the hippie mood, let's hit the road!

Our journey starts with LARREA EDP by LA CURIE, a fragrance inspired by the southwest rainstorms, where dust encounters rain. Notes of Chaparral, musk, petrichor, ozone, leather). Open the window and feel a whiff of desert there right into our noses! 

As we travel deeper into the desertic landscape we stop the car and start to explore the trails with EL COSMICO EDP by D.S & DURGA (notes of desert shrubs, desert pepper, pinyon pine, creosote, oak, khella, dry accord and shrub wax) and PURPLE SAGE by Perfumes of the Desert.

MOJAVE GHOST EDP  BY BYREDO is an ode to the ghost flower of the Mojave desert - the mohavea confertiflora.(Notes of ambrette, sapodilla, violet, sandalwood, magnolia, ambergris and cedar). Although many fragrance reviewers are saying it is not really special, I had to list it because it tells a desertic story in the Mojave landscape!

For cactus fragrances we have some options such as PRICKLY PEAR (Opuntia fragrance) and SAGUARO CACTUS (Saguaro fragrance) COLOGNES BY DEMETER.

Although FRIDA EDP BY ENVOYAGE is a fragrance celebrates artist Frida Kahlo it contains a very greeny watery scent of cactus that made me think of deserts when I first tried the sample sent by the perfumer. (Notes of apricot, watermelon, peach, lemon, fruity and green notes, tuberose, hibiscus, cactus flower, champaca, ylang, gardenia, jasmine, woody notes, sugar, oakmoss, aldehydes, myrrh, olibanum, copal, tobacco, green pepper, amber and musk. I also want to point out that while making the trip to the the Negev in Israel Shelly Waddington was always on my mind. Specially MAKEDA EDP, but mostly for historical reasons, but it is worth reading the review...
and if we are already going a little bit aside MOON DUST EDP by MIN NY is supposed to be inspired by the smell of the moon. If you read my review you will find out that there are conspiracies saying that actually it was a hoax shooted in the Nevada desert. So probably the smell of the moon is the same of the desert dirt... Worth reading, worth sampling.

Back to California, we will stop the van because it is getting dark and we are tired and hungry. It is time to sit around the fire, barbecue, tell spooky stories and wrap ourselves in a cozy Indian blanket that we bought when mingling with the locals. I can't think of a better olfative translation than Californian fragrance FIRESIDE INTENSE EDP BY SONOMA SCENT STUDIO ( click HERE for  a complete review)

More desert hippie trail experiences:

Joshua Tree Candle by Michael Aram
Mojave Soy Candle by P.F. Candle Co.

I had to finish with a good laugh! Since hippies did not bath, I bring you the B.O. Wheel  !!

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Thursday, December 29, 2016


"We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world beyond the horizon" - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Last week I took a quick trip down to the beach. I spent my day walking barefoot on the sand, smelling the sea breeze and siting at the deck to contemplate the horizon. 
It makes wonder to the soul. I felt happier with a sense of belonging.
For someone like me who suffers from motion sickness, I have been hearing the same advice all my life "if you feel unsteady, look at the horizon". Well, It is true. When you sit in front of the ocean and you focus into the horizon, that sensation of never-ending brings an idea of freedom, simplicity, unification and steadiness. I guess Nature does that to us in general.
The beach offers us even more. Being near the ocean and to profit from its salty marine breeze relaxes us in such a way that right after I sit behind the wheel to get back to the city, I am already missing my spot on that deck. 
Unfortunately this is far from happening.

Back home I was wondering if this is the reason why I love salty marine fragrances so much. Fact is that besides the relaxing effect, they wrap us by the neck and slowly drags us to a romantic day at the beach or a joyful summer vacation memory. Who does not want to live that again right?

They are also very sexy. Most salty marine fragrances feels like touching the skin with the nose and taking a long deep inhale. Bodies embraced, a long lasting kiss...

During the years I have reviewed many marine fragrances and each of them has taken me to a different shore and a different story.

Today I am exploring a fragrance that I received sometime ago from Gabriella Chieffo and I am letting it sink into my skin to see where it takes me.


Launch: 2014
Country: Italy
Concentration: EDP
Gender: Unisex
Perfumer: Luca Maffei
Olfactive Notes: Neroli, seaweed, elemi, caraway, black pepper, nutmeg, iris, incense, myrrh, patchouli, cashmeran, amber, oakmoss, musk.


"With a dive, it leaves behind the safety of the dry land. Now it finds itself here, in salt water, a mirror of the enveloping sky. A state of rest and movement in breathing, captivated by the primordial element, Purifying, Sacred. Water and salt. Life and wisdom. The branches of its soul swell inhale knowledge. It remembers being a fish and then a reptile before becoming itself. To have known smells, tastes, lives. It knows it was vertebra below the vertebrae, rocked by its breath, calmed by its heartbeats. In the salt water, made of little tears and little seas. It perceived the same smell that is here now, the never ending smell of a breath that is the end of all smells. Spit that became flesh. Dived into dryness with a wave. Having carried out the ritual, that includes the power and magic of regeneration through generation, it swallows a syllable of breath and becomes life". (Gabriella Chieffo)


ACQUASALA EDP is different from all the other fragrances that I have reviewed because although it has a rather pronounced opening, with a less "at the beach, but gazing the beach from the library window" kind of aura, it mellows in a way most salty fragrances don't. I see myself in a fancy lodge at the beach during winter time. No bikinis, no colorful drinks and certainly no Beach Boys tunes. Just a fireplace, a cozy blanket, a sip of wine or hot cocoa and a large window to look at the waves crashing on the stones. The sea shore, a salty icy breeze...a walk hand in hand wearing a warm overcoat, gloves, rain boots and a woolen scarf. It is still relaxing and sexy, but also cozy, instead of refreshing.

I didn't embrace the brand's invitation to dive right away. According to Jean Claude Ellena a fragrance needs to tell a story, and the story ACQUASALA EDP is telling me is a bit different of the one told by Gabriella. It happens. Creative people tend to create stories of their own based on memories of their own. But during dry down, after all the saltness was washed away just as a wave washes the sand and moves back down, a sensation of being under water submerged (can I say that at all?). This is what I liked about this fragrance - its versatility. It will bring you either a summer time aura or a gray-ish icy day at the beach. It depends on the mood you are in.

If you watched the Terrence Malick experimental romantic drama To The Wonder (2012) you will never forget Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko love scenes. The entire movie is rhythmic and fluid, but the beach scenes are really beautiful and poetic. Bodies collide and separate, they approach and they part from one another just like sea waves on the sand. That is ACQUASALA EDP to me - Malick's Normandy love scene captured in a flacon.

To feel romantic today:

To read more about salty (beach-y) fragrances:

Fleurs de Sel EDP by Miller Harris
Acqua di Sale EDP by Profumum Roma
Sel Marine EDP  by Heeley
Sel de Vetiver EDP by The Different Company
Côte D'Amour EDP by L'Artisan Parfumeur
Mr. Hulot's Holiday EDP by CB I Hate Perfume
Eternal Return EDP by CB I Hate perfume
Bois Naufragé EDP by Parfumerie Generale
Marine Breeze Comparisons 

Also at LUCKYSCENT if you are in the USA.

Images: +Q Perfume Blog/ Gabriella Chieffo/
Sample: Given by Brand

Friday, December 23, 2016



Six years ago I wrote about what I called the Mary Poppins/Nanny Mc Fee scents (Click here to read it) meaning fragrances that bring comfort to the soul in cold, rainy, gray days or to weird phases in life when things are very uncertain.
I don't recall why I was feeling that way six years ago because I tend to have a positive selective memory (a wisdom that we acquire with age) that makes me keep only what was enjoyable and memorable in my life. The emotional trash is deleted, if not daily, at least on monthly basis. But what is amazing, if not magical, is the fact that I have been feeling exactly the same way these days and surprisingly I received from someone that I care a lot THE ULTIMATE COMFORTING FRAGRANCE! Unbelievable! I had a similar experience with Olivier Durbano last year. An olfactive synchronicity, if I can call these events this way.
Anyways, here I was in some sort of graysh-ish kind of mood when this beautiful gift arrived at my door with a luxurious refillable perfume spray of the newest launch by Puredistance, created by Jan Ewoud and Parisian perfumer Cécile Zarokian.

Photo credit: Puredistance

SHEIDUNA EXTRAIT (27%) as described by the brand is "The perfect marriage between Oriental sensuality and Paris elegance.The result is a rich and intense perfume inspired by the panoramic views and feel of golden sand dunes in the desert during sunset - soft, female curves changing from deep gold to warm, orangey red - embodying a promise of sensual comfort and silent seduction"

Photo credit: Ivan Solar

Olfactive Notes: Lemon, tangerine, blackcurrant, aldehydes, Bulgarian rose essence, geranium, clove, vetiver, patchouli, amber woody, incense, benzoin, myrrh, tonic bean, vanilla pods and musks.

SHEIDUNA Extrait to me is the perfect marriage of a warm comforting sensation and sensuality. It feels like a complete therapy! Something like "let's work on your soul and once you are back on track, let's bring out all this amazing sex appeal you have!"

If you enjoyed WHITE Extrait by the brand, you will fall in love for SHEIDUNA right away.
While WHITE combined notes of Rose de Mai, orris, bergamot, vetyver, tonka beans, sandalwood and musks, SHEIDUNA brings the same rosy-creamy treats, but adds a touch of Arabia with incense, myrrh and vanilla.

Comparing SHEIDUNA with another desert inspired fragrance - TAI'F EDP by Ormonde Jayne, they are both very luxurious, very sensual and very oriental, but Tai'f has a dusty, acid, spicy touch, while SHEIDUNA has a mellow, creamy "hug me" aura combined with a mystic deepness. Both are lovely, but SHEIDUNA really capture my heart.

SHEIDUNA EXTRAIT is by far the best launch of the brand, and this is hard to evaluate because all Puredistance perfumes are beautifully crafted. But I don't recall closing my eyes and feeling heavenly for such a long long time. SHEIDUNA has that effect on us. It makes us feel adventurous, self assured and very feminine. I can declare without any doubt that it is my choice for a fragrance to wear during the Holidays. The scent will enhance the warm, cozy and joyful of Christmas. It is also the best choice for New Year's Eve because it is unique and very chic. 

Puredistance Website - SHEIDUNA PAGE

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