Although in theory I am in favour of solid perfumes – more discretion with application, a more controlled sillage; ease of carriage – in practice I rarely buy these concretes as they just don’t pack enough punch; are not concentrated enough for the money ; lack duration.
At the same time, I am constantly scenting myself subtly throughout the working day, usually in the form of my tinted vaselines that I mix up with citrus oils : in the winter it was Japanese iyokan orange: right now I am in lemon mood. After a week or so, once the essential oils have been absorbed into the grease you get a delicious, instantaneous boost- to the lips, the hands ( to stave off chalk : as a germ barrier).
I have been doing this for years and years – a non negotiable part of my monthly ‘budget’: not only do these gels or balms smell lovely, the kids in the class often express mini wonderment and start looking round to see where the invisible non- lemons are suddenly appearing from.
Charis, one of the aromatherapists I frequent in Fujisawa, often also stocks various scented curiosities from across Japan and the rest of the world, and recently they have started selling little mini solid perfumes that are pleasingly potent for a midday dab yet also display something very Japanese in their delicately heldtogether erotica.
Osmanthus – see packaging above – is a very apricotty, almost animalic gardenia tinged kinmokusei with a slurry finish that is proper, yet suggestive, something like Rush meets Patou Sira Des Indes. Cosmos, the one I took to first, my eyes I am sure brightening in glee when I inhaled it, is probably COMPLETELY unsuitable for a man my age ( and yet I loved wearing it last week ; just a touch on the back of the hand after lunch ); a sakura blossom meets morello cherry meets peachy soapful innocence and a shine of the early dawn that sets the good mood racing.
I wasn’t quite so keen on the sumire, or violet, because I couldn’t smell the violet in it – often a problem with me – nor the matronly lily-of-the-valley, might I might have to go back for Camellia, which is a red silken ointment like a sheening, craven Samsara – not quite sure when I would wear it but I do think I need it ( after all, these are only ¥800, about five pounds); I will certainly be stocking up on the Cosmos – and the Yuzu as well.
Yuzu anything in Japan is often founded on a blunt and musky ‘grapefruit’ molecule I can’t abide – after all, these citrus fruits are so different – but as yuzu essential oil is so readily available here – only marginally more expensive than lemon and bergamot – I knew that, though perhaps a little of that aspect lurked within the cheerful pot, it could easily be doctored.
So back I went to Muji, got my yuzu oil, and went to work mixing and spooning into different containers with added vaseline ( for solidity – it was a bit liquid ) until got the smell I wanted.
Refrigerated, the result : a beautiful, fresh yet gentle yuzu balm; perfect to touch gently anywhere on your person ( “wow, you smell really nice – like yuzu”) he said after I had walked back up the hill the other night. You couldn’t get this effect with a spray perfume – it would be too all-caressing and immediate. With a solid, secreted in your pocket, there are quieter, more synergistic, possibilities.