I sometimes like to just wander down the back streets of Yokohama or Tokyo and see what I come across. And find strange little bookstores or knick-knack shops selling old rubbish that nobody really needs, but that you feel like spending a 100 yen or two on in any case – like this old orchid-grower’s magazine from the early 1950’s that I have taken some pictures of and put here. It has adverts for cosmetics containing whale oil, instructions on how to grow orchids, and this: an advert for a long disappeared Japanese perfume that I had never heard of before, called キッスミ:Kiss Me.







































My Japanese teacher helped me to understand the meaning of the writing next to the picture of the lady and the bottle, all of which is quite intriguing and which I thought I would share with you; instructing the reader that as perfume is gradually becoming more and more popular in Japan, to finish your look of an evening you should also learn to dab on some scent, unfamiliar though you might be with this custom. Honestly, it will make you really beautiful.





















Kiss Me, we are told, is composed of three main accords, or ‘feelings'”.




The first is ヘリオトロ-プ:heliotrope,


which apparently signifies yarusenai koi no amasa, or hopeless, sweet, disconsolate love, appealing to the sentimental, Tokyoite heartstrings – a sweet, powdery floral scent of poetic longing.




Then, nyuga na (elegant) kyara, the finest grade of Japanese agarwood, the same source material as Arabian oudh but used in such a different manner in the creation of Japanese incense (violet, camphor, cloves, and a particular of sea algae) for some homegrown, nocturnal mystery;  and then, finally, the Parisian connection: a direct reference to エメロ-ド, which is the katakana Japanese direct transcription of Emeraude by Coty, and an allusion to French chic, and the art of ‘liquid jewelry’.




We can thus imagine for a fragmentary moment, a place, a time, a woman and her perfume bottle, a drop of this perfume touched gingerly on the neckline          ( unless she was audacious?).



A powdery, mysterious blend, an ‘oriental’ for the orientals if you like, from  a completely disappeared era where even the colours look different, with curiously shaped trees, fifties Japanese interiors; a glimpse into another world.
































































Filed under Flowers

24 responses to “KISS ME

  1. Marina

    I love this look into the past. What a wonderful find. Your ability to find scent in everyday life is magnificent.

    • This was me escaping from work for a bit, secretly, on a Thursday afternoon, to my favourite part of Yokohama. This lovely little bookshop, and those orchids just grabbed me (now framed and in the TV room where we watched Carrie). Kitschy, but delicious somehow. I just bought it for a couple of hundred yen and then found the perfume advert inside. It’s nothing, but something, if you know what I mean.

  2. I think theygot the heliotrope note effect perfectly right! Fascinating little treasure.

  3. Holly

    Utterly lovely

  4. Lilybelle

    I love that you find these things and share them with us. Thank you. 🙂

  5. Oh wow lovely stuff. I’d never thought about it, but now that you’ve mentioned it, vintage Japanese fragrances would be something worth researching. Maybe that’s a project you can embark on! “A History of Japanese Perfume” by Neil Chapman. Has a nice ring to it.

    I’ve only got one Japanese perfume, and it’s simply called “Eau de Parfum” by Shiseido. The box has Japanese all over it, so I presume it was made there.

    • Alas: this lazy mutha never has, and never will, master the language so such a delightful sounding project will never come to fruition. Nice idea, though!

      • Get your friends to help! 🙂 Haha I can’t believe you’ve never bothered learning the language!

      • Don’t get me wrong: I can speak it, and have conversation lessons once or twice a month (also I have a lot of colleagues who speak no English so have to speak Japanese out of necessity), but I knew from the moment I came here that kanji were going to be impossible for me. Seriously, it sounds defeatist but I know my own brain and I know 100% sure that Chinese characters are simply not possible for me. I can’t even manage the simple katakana and hiragana. I can imagine the image you have, though, of some white man just turning up and never bothering with the foreign language, but I actually majored in Italian and French at university and can speak both pretty well, so in theory I should be able to pick up Japanese. Sadly, the written language ain’t never gon happen.

      • Oh that’s a pity. My older brother attempted to learn Japanese sometime back but gave up after a year. I suppose we do have it easier, since we write and speak Mandarin Chinese as well, and some of the words used in Kanji are exactly the same. But it’s a beautiful language!

      • It most certainly is, but you are right: having a background in Chinese gives you about a 1000% head start. Shame on your brother!

  6. Nancysg

    I like the diagrams that show how to make the flower arrangements. I need explicit directions.

    • Oh Lordy they are Japanese after all. This is the EPICENTRE of precise instruction! Even in patisseries you get detailed diagrams of what exactly is in the cake, a cross section of the filling and so on. Things sure are done properly here!

      • jennyredhen

        My daughter in law did a nail art course in japan and everything had to be really precise. How you picked up the bottle of polish. It had to be put down in an exact spot on the table etc. she was so nervous in her exam her hands were shaking… = fail!!!

      • That is Japan. And part of why I love it. The world outside is simply a big slob.

  7. So fabulous and kitschy. A real glimpse into a bygone era. Love it!

  8. I didn’t know Japanese agarwood existed – let alone had “the finest grade” of it. Where do they grow it?

    • They definitely don’t grow it, but they sure as hell use it, and I prefer the Japanese jinko/kyara culture to the oudh one by a mile. It is used in a gorgeous, ghostly fashion in incense.

  9. That was a beautiful little distraction in my day, thank you for sharing it. So interesting too to see that reference to ‘hopeless, sweet, disconsolate love’ seems so very Japanese as an idea.

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