The Black Narcissus


The delighted and envious uproar over my cache of vintage perfume finds the other day (at a run down underground Tokyo arcade),  led more than one reader to ask the obvious question : why? HOW?!  Why is it that a country famed for its attraction to subtlety; barely perceptible scents, and soft, smudged ambiguity in general, should turn up such treasure troves of unwanted, pungent, classic French scent? How did it get there?

It gave me food for thought….

I am no social anthropologist, nor Japanologist. I can speak the language passably (though that is debatable), but cannot read or write it all, and thus do not have the abilities to bore my way properly into the country’s own literature and current thought, to turn up answers from the inside (without this ability, I don’t think you can ever really get to know a society inside out). I am not…

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One response to “JAPAN, PERFUME

  1. rosestrang

    Excellent procrastination before work – I really enjoyed this!
    I have a Japanese friend, a contemporary musician, who says he’d not be able to live in Japan again as he finds the culture so difficult for all the reasons you mention (I’d have been enraged too in the Hermes dept – I live in Edinburgh and even the scrubbed clean poker-faced politeness of middle class Edinburgh drives me mad!). Yet Japanese culture is clearly a positive influence on my friend’s work approach in terms of structure – which is highly precise

    On my way to a party at his house a few weeks ago, I picked a sprig of apple blossom, completely forgetting it was such a tradition in Japan. I offered it to him and he laughed and said that spring blossoms were often offered to business men, so I replied with fake anxiety ‘Oh no, did I get it wrong?!’ (what could be more insulting than treating an unconventional musician like a business man. It made him laugh, and we discussed the ability to laugh about such rituals and ‘getting it wrong’.

    I’d find it difficult to remain so terribly serious about behaviours. Yet, like Lilybelle (in comments above) I’ve always appreciated many aspects of Japanese culture – food, art, calligraphy and of course the absolute grace that accompanies these

    I’d like to read your article when its published

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