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.