I was in Kamakura today and ventured into one of my usual haunts, Strawberry Fields (in case you are interested: Kamakura station, Enoden station exit, shopping street, it’s just a bit down there on the left) :





















Today, 1000 Japanese yen = 6.86 British Sterling

11.73 Australian Dollars

8.16 Euros

11.38 Canadian Dollars

8.48 US Dollars












From the outside, you probably wouldn’t imagine that inside there is an Ali Baba’s cave of vintage perfume among the bric-a-brac. Well, that is an exaggeration perhaps, but seeing that all I have to compare this with is threadbare Mother Hubbard selections at British and American flea markets and antiques fairs (tell me more: I am very interested in the comparisons), there is no doubt that this shop, for the perfume maniac, is like a dream come true.





Before I go any further, this is not by any means the first time I have been in this shop. It does tend to yield. And Duncan will sometimes pick me up something from there on his way home from work (for my birthday he got me a gorgeous extrait of Lanvins’ My Sin, for instance). But you can go for a long time without any new additions. Today, though, she seemed to have a whole new influx of perfumes, of many different kinds, and I was in my ELEMENT.




Here she is – sorry I forgot to ask her name – with a bottle of Amouage Gold (by far the most expensive thing perfume wise), which I have considered buying (a beautiful rose sandalwood concoction) but which doesn’t quite smell right on either of us (yes, the lady does let you try the perfumes a bit, within reason): anyway, she is hoping that I will buy  this set at some point, and who knows, on some hot summer’s sultry night, maybe I will.













Otherwise, things are MUCH cheaper. Some things are perhaps a bit overpriced, like this Infini









which pops up everywhere and which you can get more cheaply. On the other hand,



are exquisite prices for intact, vintage editions of such classics.
















Things are presented in something of a jumble. But that is how I like it.






I’m thinking now that I should have got that beautiful Jolie Madame. In that size, and that price, that is a bargain from hell. I already have one the same, though.

And can anyone tell me about Gres Eau De Cologne? I forgot to give it a sniff.











Lilybelle, look: vintage Eau De Joy and Joy parfum!










For anyone who loves vintage Madame Rochas, there is TONS of the stuff in Japan….






IMG_0549 (3).jpg




….quite often very cheap as well.








What else?

Obviously, my heart leapt at a full bottle of


as I only have a couple of miniatures and this stuff is GORGEOUS. However, the colour alarmed me a bit and I felt the top notes weren’t there (for me, the beauty of La Nuit is in the contrast between the sweet, strawberry innocence of the head and the nymphomania of the base, otherwise there is no point).






Mmmmm……. Other animals available today included the much sought after







which I could never get into for some reason (please take it, it’s yours – there was another bigger parfum there as well), and







which I have quite enough of already (love that bottle though: very Antoinette – I might have to get it anyway).






Speaking of animalics, what I saw and knew I would definitely have to have today was


the DELIGHTFUL  Parfum d’Hermes, (in parfum!) which I happened to be wearing upon entering the shop in any case (in edt): a kind of Marquis De Sade meets Chamade, ET QUE J’ADORE.I seriously love this stuff.


No, there was no way I was leaving without that one. I can’t quite carry it off, but on a red cashmere scarf, oh yes, baby, yes.






Also, how could I say no to this?


Never seen a boxed edition cheaply of this legend in Japan (they actually had TWO – I might have to hurry back and get the other one, in spray: on my arm tonight it smells like someone wearing Givenchy’s Insense while walking down a midnight avenue of sad and beautiful Christmas trees……..really sexy actually. I might get Duncan to wear it tomorrow when we go to the Cranach exhibition in Ueno.)




The proprietor also, as she always does, gave me a discount and let me have both for 5,000 yen (which for 34 British pounds is a SERIOUS bargain), and threw in a boxed Dolce & Gabbana miniature boxed set for the hell of it ( I happen to really like the original releases by them so was rather chuffed).



La la la.



What else was there?




Some Interdit parfum, if you’re interested






some IMG_0544.jpg




and of course some





(somewhat overpriced I thought), as was this, but then this is CAPRICCI ( SO beautiful, and it is a really big flacon)










argh I want this















Some mysteries


(does anyone know what this is?)





Some old chestnuts





and some more recent perfumes as well.






Still, you can’t really beat the vintage thrills. There is something about the rectangular shape of this Mitsouko eau de cologne that blows my mind, but I couldn’t afford it.











(This round bottle isn’t too shabby, either.)














Anyway, there were others as well, plenty of them,  that you could rummage among: miniatures, half used bottles, even sample vials stuck at the bottom of wooden boxes………..things that the average punter on the street wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow over, but which for the perfume enthusiast, are nothing short of heaven, really.







If you do come to Japan and make the day trip to Kamakura (for all the beautiful temples and the Great Buddha, the mountains and the history), aside a few Japanese trinkets, you know what souvenirs you want to be taking back home with you….







Better bring a big suitcase……..










Filed under Japan


  1. Incredible!!! You must have been so happy!! Merry Christmas Neil!

  2. Lilybelle

    Ahhh!!!! ~ ~ Faints ~ ~ What treasures! Not just Joy, but Farouche and L’Interdit and Infini and Fidji and Madame Rochas and Jolie Madame. I would certainly go insane in there. I have discovered to my great sorrow that L’Air du Temps does not age well. :*( I have tried several times. Well, now you have me drooling. ♡

    • If I could beam them to you a la Star Trek, you know I would. But I have had SO much grief trying to send perfume out, I no longer can. Still, more motivation to come to Japan one day!

      • Lilybelle

        I know, believe me, I know. I’ve pretty much given up sending perfume even here in the US. I feel guilty saying “no” or checking “no” on boxes when the post office asks point blank whether there is perfume inside. I get paranoid about being found out, trying to muffle the slosh. I feel my face gives me away. I feel like a criminal. I would do it in a pinch for a friend, but I don’t like I.used to.

      • Exactly the same here. And I have been caught red-handed with a SERIOUS package for Helen once, and they would never believe me again in any case (and definitely use x ray machines).

    • Also: are these prices reasonable? I remember in New Orleans going to an antiques fair and things were priced much higher (and were not as exciting). The same in England, in Brighton and in Nottingham.

  3. Missionista

    Amazing! I’m speechless with wonder (and avarice).

  4. Lilybelle

    I think that flat bottle with the gold label is maybe a Coty? I don’t know which one. Dimitri Dimitriadis of The Sorcery of Scent would probably know. He has an emormous art deco collection.

  5. Lilybelle

    These are great prices anywhere, unless yoh came upon an estate sale by serendipity and the selllers didn’t know what they had.

  6. Amazing, what was that fabulous Hermes?

  7. What a find! And what fabulous perfumes!

  8. I’m almost sick with lust and longing! No envy, no, I’m too evolved for that. HA! Here on the coastal fringes of the Wild West of Canada, there is nothing, just nothing, like you have there. Died and gone to heaven is overused, but here it is exactly what I’d feel. So happy for you. You really have earned the right to have this smorgasbord because of the delight you bring to your readers.

    I would snap up the Doblis (ah, no, that’s Parfum d’Hermes, but that will still do very nicely), the Jolie Madame, the Infini parfum (so impossible to find here, and I only have the EdT and adore it), I would sniff the square bottle with the round gold label and snap it up if it smelled good, grab the Nuit de PR despite the lack of top notes, the Guerlain colognes, the Mitsouko parfum, the Nina and Farouche, the Coco, the BaV, Enoui . . . and I would check those two floral print boxes, the blue and the orange, because if memory serves those are Jean d’Albret Casaque and Ecusson and I would cry if I smelled them again, especially the Casaque, one of my first bottles of parfum at the age of 17. And I could go on but feel greedy enough as it is!!!

  9. Yup, the Hermes would’ve been mine in a NY minute. That unknown bottle likely is a Coty, although the shape would suggest a very vintage bottle of Maja, the original not the Nueva. Wow. What a treasure trove! I can’t even…

    • Any idea what Coty? Do you think I need it?

      As for the Hermes….. I have always worshipped Chamade, and my vintage parfum is one of my treasures. I think it is the hyacinth, which I am passionate about.

      In Parfum D’Hermes, though, you get this ambery rose myrrh powdered thing with hyacinth on top but then that FILTHY animal note ((costus?)) that lies beneath. I find it a resplendently decadent perfume and perfect for this time of year. Do you also wear it?

      • I’m thinking the Coty MIGHT be L’Origan, check on etsy under vintage
        coty perfume, there are a couple of pictures. I LOVE the Parfum d’Hermes, and I haven’t worn it in awhile, although I suspect there’s a decant floating around my shelves if memeory serves. I’ll have to go search thru the boxes. But yeah, skank-bomb, that one. Gorgeous!

  10. MrsDalloway

    Lovely! I would snap up the Fidji and Infini to bolster my existing stocks, and I’d love to try that Nina. My vintage Fidji was about £7 on eBay but that was getting lucky in an auction. Glad it’s not just me doesn’t like Givenchy III.

    • Nina is delightful. Conservative, late eighties in a way ( very regatta with hats by the river ),, but also a very green, diaphanous, wonderfully floral neoclassical aldehyde that does contain some mystery.

  11. Renee Stout

    Masumi is a basically a slightly green, aldehydic floral. I found a 1/4 oz bottle of the parfum in an antiques shop earlier this year. Because I knew it was a vintage Coty, I was excited, but once I got it home and tried it, it didn’t really knock my socks off. It’s okay, but you showed other scents that I would go after before Masumi. Thanks for sharing…I was drooling (lol).

    • That was the intention!

      As for the Masumi, I had a cursory sniff and thought as much. That whole tight green oiled and slightly bitter tweed chypre doesn’t really do it for me : I find it dated ( I’m not really into late sixties perfumes in general). For a green leathery chypre I prefer something like Scherrer, which is simultaneously more muscled yet feline.,

  12. Thanks for sharing — it was so entertaining to see your photos and comments!

  13. Tara C

    OMG!! I want the Jolie Madame, L’Air du Temps, BàV, Nina, Calèche and Coco. If that Dune had been the women’s version I’d have taken that too, plus the Fahrenheit. Sigh. What a great shop!

  14. I am roiling with jealousy. How freaking fabulous. Lucky you.
    Merry Christmas,
    Portia xx

  15. David

    What a treasure chest! I would have bought that Hermes. I’ve wanted to try it for a long time.
    Here in São Paulo I occasionally stumble onto some nice finds. Every Sunday the Italian neighborhood turns into one big street fair. I seem to find lots of vintage Caron. Last week I found Scandal by Lanvin and a vintage Mitsouko. I paid the equivalent of 2,500 yen for both. As the economy gets worse and worse here in Brazil, I’m finding more and more vintage perfumes. Most Brazilians wouldn’t dream of wearing someone’s discarded perfume. So treasure hunting isn’t too competitive.

    • Scandal! That makes me very jealous. Please describe it to me!

      • Also: I know you love leather, so Parfum D’Hermes, which has not exactly leather per se, but something distinctly animalic in the base, might really appeal to you ( I personally loooooove it ).

        On the other hand, if Chamade or Hermes Rouge don’t appeal in any way, you wouldn’t like it. This is like their higher class but more sexually promiscuous older sister.

  16. Maria de Santis

    Dear Neil-

    What a vintage treasure trove! You asked for our reactions, so here we go… Where to start? First, rest assured that I have seen nothing like this in any US thrift shop, and most of the prices are very reasonable indeed, compared to what I able to do by very careful searching and bidding on Ebay. I’ve managed to go to one estate sale of a perfume lover…it was amazing, but they are rare, and I don’t have much time for the hunt. I would say that the Guerlain colognes might be a tiny bit overpriced…the influence of the name, I suppose.

    What would I get? Even though I already have enough of each of these to wear until the end of my days, I would not be able to resist getting the Jolie Madame, Givenchy III, and Diorissimo. Each one is a unique, perfect creation. You must go back for that Jolie Madame, really.

    I would definitely take my pick of one of the L’Air du Temps parfums in a dove flacon at these bargain prices. I don’t have one (poor little me) and I am starting to think I need one.

    Not sure about that Interdit. It is difficult to tell the vintage and newer parfum bottles apart by shape, and I don’t believe the original had a red label. Do you know? The reform is ghastly, but perhaps that lovely storekeeper would permit us a sniff?

    I have concluded that I am not enough of a lady to wear Nina or Farouche or Capricci so I would leave these for those that are. Madame Rochas is the proper-on-the-surface soapy aldehyde with enough florals and woods to keep me interested. I do have more than enough Madame Rochas as well, but perhaps I should pick up another parfum, just in case.

    I’m curious if the Masumi parfum would be worthwhile but I would probably give it a pass. I tested some vintage EDT and found it very boring.

    I managed to get a flacon of Inoui extrait a few years ago and I do appreciate its restraint and beauty. Again, it might be a little too quiet for me, but I think you were wise to get this.

    I have spent more time than you can imagine trying to identify that Coty-like bottle with the abraded label. I am pretty certain it is not L’Origan, after comparing it to the label on my vintage bottle, and I am beginning to wonder if it might not even be Coty. The shape and lettering on the label are very similar to vintage Coty labels, but I see the letters “high” in the center, and I cannot find any Coty label with those letters in that spot. Did you know there was a Coty perfume called “Highlander” from 1938? But the letters don’t seem to fit. You might try contacting Grace Hummell, aka Cleopatra’s Boudoir,, another vintage perfume expert and the author of this vintage Coty blog–

    Thanks so much for sharing your enthusiasm for vintage perfumes and all of the photos–it was a Christmas present to see these!

    • Thank you SO much. This is exactly the detailed response that I was hoping for. If it is still there I think I will get the Jolie Madame, and probably another Inoui as well, as Duncan took to it immediately ( to me it smells more masculine than feminine).

      Though suffocating to passengers on the Tokyo underground ( I literally poured about a quarter of the bottle onto my red cashmere ) I have LOVED, loved loved the Parfum D’Hermes today.

  17. jjlook

    Oh I’d get the inoui and the farenheit…I have the exact same diorissimo that I bought at a Salvation Army for 8$ a while ago…I have intermittent thrift store luck, haven’t had a major score in ages, but I also haven’t been making weekly treks like I used to.

  18. I want everything. I would be in absolute heaven there. Was th Dolce Vita parfum? I would love to have the parfum of it again. When I visit Japan, hopefully next year, I will definitely join you for a fragrance hunt.

    • I CAN’T WAIT. I will take you to every spot that I know.

    • And could it really have been the parfum? I must go back and check. I always thought that one was underrated, being so similar in many ways to the greatly lauded Feminite Du Bois. I also have a beautiful old L’Occitane perfume called Bois De Rose, which was of the same ilk. It was a novel accord for the time – that sweet, spiced Moroccan cedar – and it really appeals to me as well.

    • And just to hear more on the subject: such places are rare in America? I am very interested in the comparisons.

      • Finding treasures like you do is extremely rare here where I live. I have found the occasional bottle, or two, but never a large quantity of scents. In my searches I have been lucky to find a Nocturnes parfum, Ivoire parfum, Femme parfum and a couple of others, but never all in the same place.

  19. I love this store! So many good finds in the second hand/vintage stores in Kamakura. There’s one just around the corner from that street that sells awesome wooden masks. Great post.

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