After the wild drunkenness and Soft Cell hilarity of Saturday night in Roppongi with my friends ( ‘out in clubland having fun..and now I’m hiding from the sun..’), we had a much more conventional, curled up home cooking-with-locally-grown-vegetables,  Netflix-in-the-rain type Sunday yesterday in with the cat.




Today it is warm and the sun is out. Flowers everywhere.








The smell of the plum blossoms is palpable, tinting the blue air












  1. It’s strange. Somehow I feel as though I should have de-saturated these pictures – they feel colorized – but that was exactly how my phone took them.

    Plum blossoms are so STRONG

  2. Tara C

    Gorgeous spring flowers! You must have very mild winters.In Montréal we still have two more months of cold & snow.

    • I hope you enjoy them! (I know many do…..).

      This year is particularly warm, which I love, although today it is two degrees outside which for me is quite cold enough. Comparatively, Japan is I suppose mild but I can’t wait for the heat to come back!

  3. What a glorious way to herald the coming of spring. I would just adore that scent wafting through the air.

    • It is mind-altering. Winter is strangely almost scentless, isn’t it? I mean of course there is that scent on the air, the winter ozone, and what not, but it is as if the smell of flowers blooming is just a huge wake up call of natural libido – I love it

      • The scent of Spring really is magical, but I love the brisk almost invisible smell of crisp winter air. Unfortunately we have nothing as delightful as plum blossom or cherry blossom around here. Just the subtle smell of greenery coming Alice again.

      • ‘coming Alice again’: I love it.

        Winter most definitely is beautiful in a way. We have some friends coming to stay in a couple of weeks – a guy with his Cambodian boyfriend who has never seen snow. It will be interesting experiencing it all through his eyes ; a person from a country where it never goes below 23 degrees.

      • I’m sure he’ll be enchanted.

  4. Hi Neil, I hope all is well in Japan! I am writing from Austin, Texas. I am a psychotherapist in private practice and work with people who have pretty significant anxiety. I would like to offer some hinoki bath salts (home made on my end) as a way to encourage working out and soaking to manage and relieve anxiety. I used to live in New Mexico and often went to Ten Thousand Waves Japanese spa to soak. The hinoki lotion is out of this world. I have asked around and done research and ordered samples of hinoki essential oil but am not having much luck finding anything with the intensity that I would like. I’m not sure what the difference is between essential oil and fragrance when it comes to hinoki. Is there anyone who makes either in Japan that you would recommend I contact to see if I can order some from? Any suggestions, tips, info, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your wonderful writing on perfume!

    • I love hinoki actually – it is a classically Japanese smell and thanks for the offer (I strike you as suffering from pretty significant anxiety?). I would say more that I am naturally highly strung (but that I do get quite stressed in certain situations); at the same time, I seem to always actually SEEK a state of ‘hyperarousal’ to pierce through the membrane- and that is what I like to sometimes create on here as well – something immersive and stimulating (there are plenty of workaday blogs out there, just chatty and easy, but that is not what I want. I want to capture some essence of life itself).

      I DO benefit from nice long soaks in the bath though – I can stay in for hours.

      I will put my email up briefly so I can take you up on your kind offer!

    • Tara C

      Hi Stef, you may want to contact Dawn Spencer Hurwitz or Mandy Aftel, indie perfumers in Colorado and California respectively, for advice on sourcing top quality hinoki.

  5. Ann

    Oh I long to be there but we have cancelled our flights so will miss Spring in Japan. Maybe Autumn. Wearing Apres L’Ondee today but not so sure that I am really right for it. Violets? Old fashioned pastille sweets?

  6. Robin

    That’s a drag about coronavirus there. Are you still fairly calm about it, or freaked-out, or . . . I don’t know how I’d react. I think I’d probably go back and forth.

    Love this post and the photos. I have two early-ripening plum trees on the property. One, nearest the beach, has deep-purple-skinned-and-red-fleshed fruit, good for eating, rubbish for jam. Its blossoms are large, white and hardly have any scent at all. The tree nearest the forest has fruit with yellow-orange skin blushed with bright pink, yellow flesh, rubbish for eating, good for jam. Its blossoms are small, white and smell ridiculously beautiful. I wish someone could bottle the scent.

    I bring branches of both into the cottage starting late January to force them. They’re blooming right now on the kitchen counter. They’ll be blooming outdoors in situ early in March. Plums ripe by mid-July. This is starting to be a good time of year.

    I love the thought of your area of Japan and how early the signs of Spring are. Your plum blossoms, I think, are quite a bit more spectacular than ours. Do all those trees bear fruit as well? I can sort of see you in the kitchen making jam. Wait. No, I don’t think I can.

    • You can’t – it would be an UTTER mess (I would LOVE some of your plum jam, though……perfume can’t get sent, but that would…..)

      Re the virus, I am also boomeranging between the two, but today I am in Yokohama again, where the passengers are being let off the ship in the thousands, and where I literally could be in contact with them on public transport. I AM freaking out. I don’t want to go. But don’t want to be the cowardly gaijin who doesn’t do his duty when all my colleagues are sucking up the air through their dutiful face masks and just ‘keeping calm and carrying on’. At the same time, I really DO NOT want an untreatable pneumonia – I am acutely familiar with what the condition feels like.

      What should I do?

      • Robin

        If it were me — and this won’t do you any good today, but for later — I would check with my doctor and see what they said. If you’re at significant risk because of your medical history, you might get a letter for a medical leave from work. Better a “cowardly” (sensible, realistic) gaijin than a dead one. On the other hand, if you’re at no greater risk than average, I would gird my loins as best as I could (again, your doctor could advise), suit up and show up. Such a drag, and I’m sorry you’re on the horns of his risky dilemma.

      • As is everyone.

        I went in, wore the mask for a bit (sprinkled with lemon essential oil for good measure), but who knows?

        To be honest, it IS all a bit grim. I can’t deny it. I mean, the Canadian government is bringing its citizens home and then,sensibly, isolating them for at least another two weeks, just as all the other governments are. Japan, on the other hand, released thousands (literally) of people YESTERDAY, when I was actually IN Yokohama…

        Yes, perhaps I was a bit stupid to go in. I should have used logic and instinct. Instead, I have been brainwashed. Quite sad, really. What happened to me?

      • Robin

        I’m pretty sure I would have done the same. Gone in anyway. Seems it’s a kind of natural emotional survival mechanism to go a little numb and follow the crowd, pushing aside those disturbing thoughts and feelings and trusting some kind of abstract idea of safety in numbers, a variation of denial. At least, I think that would have been my response. God, I get a little bit of the shivers thinking about your situation. Really, though, I think you’re going to be okay, I do. Natural to worse-case-scenario it, at least for a moment or two in the course of your day. I’m sorry you’re all dealing with this.

      • Thanks for caring, really. But we also know I am a drama queen, and people really are taking it all in their stride here (after all, the fatality rate is negligible so far). It feels almost perverse not to be doing the same. So I kind of am.

  7. Beautiful blossoms. I like the pale pink ones.

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