Although I mentioned the other day, somewhat facetiously, that I was completely sick of the sight of cherry blossom, having had my fill of it during my parents’ visit (it was everywhere), I must still say that until this year, I had never quite fully appreciated the sheer fragile, overwhelming beauty of hanami: the joyful and animated cherry blossom viewing parties that millions of Japanese people take part in each spring during the two weeks or so when the trees are in full bloom and the air is filled with pink and the scent of sakura. Perhaps it is age: realising that our time on this earth is limited, or perhaps it was just the fact of not ever having been to Ueno Park before at this time, not on the very day that the buds opened in unison, when the sight of oceans of gently fluttering flowers literally made me choke up with emotion.
Yesterday in Isetan, Shinjuku, by chance I came across Cherry Blossom by Floris, a limited edition in Japan that is only on sale while the flowers are out ( a nice idea, I thought) and I picked it up cynically, waiting for a sharp and chemical maelstrom to assail my nose that would never come close to capturing the delicate fragrance of thousands of flowering cherry trees. Instead, as I raised the bottle to my nose, I did actually have a flashback to all those people sat under the floral canopies drinking their sake and beer when we were there the previous week : messing around, sleeping, talking, laughing, and thought that Floris ( a perfume house I tend to like more than most people), had done a pretty good job of capturing a feeling that can’t really be captured. Much better than L’Occitane’s Fleurs de Cerisier, or Guerlain’s paltry Cherry Blossom and its multiple flankers anyway, as well as several other cherry/plum perfumes such as Creed’s Acqua Fiorentina that take similar ideas but always come out smelling too brash. This Cherry Blossom strikes me as being one of the best cherry/plum florals I have come across. The ‘fruity floral’ has obviously been done to death, but a good red fruit and flower scent can still be enjoyable if it is not too synthetic smelling or jarring, and marries all the notes persuasively. This variation on a familiar theme is a bright, nicely interwoven perfume incorporating a fairly convincing sakura central note with a basket of rose, osmanthus and peony, and sharp, bergamot and orange-laced cherries with an almost tuberose like facet that makes it very uplifting and romantic. I had flashes of Guerlain Champs Elysées for some reason (perhaps there is a similar internal structure, a fresh floral with gently sensuous undertones), and think I could actually wear this one myself, a fragrance that does a pretty good job of approximating the feeling present at a hanami party, when people forget the everyday for a moment, and concentrate on just being.
In any case, writing this gives me a chance to put up some last pictures I have taken of the sakura before it disappears for another year. These pictures were taken last Friday, on a walk down from my house through the Hansobo temple and down to Kenchoji, where cherry trees complemented the zen austerity of that major temple quite beautifully, and where we spent quite a while just strolling, lazing; contemplating.