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.
10 responses to “a week of yuzu and lemon : : : featuring the solid perfumes of KOUSAIDO, KYOTO”
Congrats on publishing xx
Did you get it?
Ah! First in your book on page 171, now here once again: Patou’s Sira Des Indes! I rushed to buy a—cheap!!—bottle on Ebay; I believe it’s from 2005 (something I found out thanks to the wonderful website “Raiders of the Lost Scent”. Mille grazie!!).
On arrival at work, I surreptitiously sprayed a few drops on my arm, and quickly covered it with my shirt sleeve when the chemical tropical fruit tam-tam begun. It stayed rather artificial on the material, and I first thought it wasn’t for me. Then on a different day a second trial, this time on skin—and by Jove, it went from Goa Guava to indolic skank in five minutes!! Hooray!
This is the one piece of writing that has persuaded me to get excited about anything other than alcohol-driven fragrance. They’ve always seemed so DOA, refusing to come alive on the skin to any degree. I like the idea of a homemade tinted Vaseline base for essential oils. I’m going to try to track down yuzu; we have a lot of small indie vendors selling on the coast, so I might have luck. (Bergamot is a cinch.) For some reason, a blue tint seems intuitively right for citrus, as counterintuitive as that may sound. For now, I have some jasmine I’m going to muck around with. Thanks, N.!
For some reason, bergamot doesn’t work so well with vaseline in terms of smell : although a little added can pep up a blend ( I have one that is yuzu lemon and bergamot). One reason I enjoy making these is that you can wear a perfume, say a vetiver or even an oriental like Shalimar and then later in the day suddenly lemon up : the two naturally go together
Vintage Guerlain Vetiver at 8 am, yuzu at 3 pm sounds great.
It arrived today in Honolulu. Any chance you can speak on the scents of the Islamic World? I’m working at an Islamic Art Museum and thinking about creating multi sensory tours.
I mention some of that in my oud section and in my introduction, but it is a world unto itself – a culture that ADORES perfume like no other
( Are you living in Honolulu ?! )
We have been planning to go there for a while