As February has turned to March, and April to May, it is finally deliciously hot, or at least it was yesterday – just like summer. One night there was extreme lightning and thunder  : we sat on the balcony watching the torrential rain and the Spielberghian strikes in the sky, but then just blue skied bliss, fragrant flowers opening everywhere, and bright sunshine. Radiation. Ultra violet light. Time has lost its meaning. I am not quite sure where I am. And I have to confess to feeling unmoored and not quite there. All this anger and frustration and resistance to everything  – the story of my life in many ways – has exhausted me  (I am still the only person not going in to the office……..I feel guilty, like a pariah in isolation who has meaningfully deserted the sinking ship except that in reality I am doing my part….recording lessons and sending them off; receiving and correcting homework from students via private email, and am gradually getting used to this way of doing things, kind of…………I am just not prepared to sacrifice my life for it and this, to me, is the finest compromise.) Still, stuck here, and knowing they are there, it does cause a stress that permeates the blood stream like a permanent low grade fever. It is always out there, isn’t it?  The myriad of situations. Responses. Infections. None of us knowing what is going to happen next. This weird uncertainty. Life on pause. I wonder how you are all also doing at this point, reading this wherever you are, as we apparently start returning; ‘ opening’……..

This peculiar interiority, where you are forced to come to some kind of reckoning with yourself. All this time in your own skin. It feels harder to escape home truths. To both try and evade reality  – to keep yourself preoccupied – but also be simultaneously compelled to analyze it all  – your situation, the country you live in, the world’s – so much more deeply. And maybe this is a good thing, in the long run, even if sometimes I feel as if I am sinking inwardly. Led by my own anchor – which is heavy.  Out there is the world. Inside is  just you, or the person you are with. Or the cat, gazing out, blissfully aware, preening in the sunlight; glad that you are home with her. Or just your bottle of wine and the trees turning green outside your window. Perfume to retreat into (the heart is a cage.)  Insularity, for self-protection.

Before the virus, I would sometimes on a Thursday before my evening lessons in Yokohama walk down Isezakicho high street and look for any perfume bargains I might find at affordable prices. In truth, I rarely splurge on a full niche bottle when they cost around 20,000-30,000 yen here on average; I am more likely to do so for a present for someone else than for myself as I like the luxuriousness of the gift, but when you can find those perfumes for a fraction of the usual price for daily use it is a joy. In the winter on one occasion recently I picked up a full bottle of Sisley Eau D’Ikar quite cheaply, which I am truly loving right now for its green, somniferous quality that makes me feel like I am dozing in the shade of a grove in Crete. Blissfully escapist. In the winter I wouldn’t even have considered it a player and had actually forgotten about even having it until the other day but what delight. The same could be said yesterday for Montale’s Jasmine Full, which I had unthinkingly bought on a whim for around thirty dollars back in January but wore resplendently yesterday for the first time, actually layered with the Eau D’Ikar – one on each arm, and sprayed on a hoodie (Jasmine Full is certainly the right name for this perfume alright: this is not the prime but overabundant French style jasmine (grandiflorum) that is blooming and rotting left right and centre everywhere right now in Kamakura in suburban hedgerows – to an almost nauseating degree, but rather a single note more brilliant sheeny soliflore based on the whiter, or yellow Indian style jasmine variety whose flowers have a  completely different appearance and are at once cooler, greener, while ultimately more indolic once they get wreathed into twists and wedding garlands and suffuse the air with their generally optimistic and booming floraceousness.


Yesterday on the street  – social distancing, though it still hasn’t entirely caught on yet  – I must have been standing about two metres away from Mr and Mrs Mitomi after I ran into them and their grandson Kodai as I was about to go on yet another bike ride,  as we were standing there talking (sleepily, all of us a bit less sharp somehow, these days; are you also ? I am personally feeling like something of a moron as though my IQ has retreated; I feel dumb) – she said to me after a couple of minutes of not much speaking…..Waaaaaaaah, what is that beautiful smell? It’s gorgeous. Sugoi ii nioi. Is it coming from you?’ I said ‘You mean the jasmine?’ and she said ‘Yes. Jasmine I love it’.  Daisuki desu yo. I flushed, slightly, embarrassed at the extravagance of my odour, but I also really liked the connection of it (having seen them on the street in truth I almost avoided them and went the other way; could I be bothered to actually make conversation? and that is the thing about all this hiding away; you become more sociophobic, withdrawn, and interaction seems like more of a physical effort); but I was pleased that I decided for once to do the right thing instead and to be sociable as this ‘perfumed moment’ was also a physical connection.  Jasmine Full is a perfume that would certainly penetrate the clinical confines of a face mask, bring colour to a black white and grey situation (the whole world right now). It brightened the day. Yesterday I sat in the late afternoon sun wearing my two perfumes, comparing wrists, and felt eased; aesthetically contented at the very least. It’s nice to wear old favourites, but also to bring in the new….


Filed under Flowers, Jasmine

34 responses to “AMPLITUDE : : JASMINE FULL by MONTALE (2006)

  1. thehungrybookling

    I adore your honest writing style, your words capture the moment and the situation beautifully and have a fragrance all of their own. I too am stuck inside, but your words they help me travel! I wish I could have seen the thunder and torrential rain – I find it so captivating!

    • This couldn’t be a nicer thing for me to read right now. Thank you so much for commenting and saying this! I have an innate need for expression, even when I reveal too much by going overboard with emotions and ‘pretensions’, but really DO earnestly want to capture whatever moment I am in: to me it is like fixing time and making it eternal. If that then translates to another person in another part of the world and and is cathartic, emotive, or pleasurable in some way, I really couldn’t be happier. x


      • thehungrybookling

        I don’t think you go overboard at all – don’t change! I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading your post (hence my comment!) and I look forward to reading more!

      • I shall not be daunted then, and let it come out as it tends to come out! Thanks again.

  2. Robin

    I’m feeling all those things, too, and this was wonderfully affirming to read. Love that idea of connecting physically with fragrance, and the pleasure that jasmine gave to Mrs. Mitomi. I thought I’d wear Jasmin Full today and experience that pleasure too. Yes. It is really gorgeous. I don’t know why I don’t wear it more. Sometimes I feel as though a soliflore is too much of a good thing, but that’s just not true. Just something I’ve had in my head for no real reason. It was perfect on this warm, rainy day near Vancouver, making it feel almost subtropical. What a good feeling.

    We’re officially relaxing restrictions this holiday weekend, although with our unseasonably warm weather the crowds have already been out on the beaches in the city. Phew. I’m ambivalent. Every fibre in my body aches for freedom but my head is full of red flags. My fragrance collection has been — no surprise — crucial over this period of time to ground me and keep me connected to all the things it represents: natural and man-made beauty, creativity, history, culture, style, all of it. I don’t know what people do who have a single bottle of something mediocre, something that barely registers, that they’re indifferent to and own just because it was a gift or on sale somewhere. People who don’t give a hoot about fragrance. What keeps them sane?!

    • The thought that they can one day go to a basketball game again.

      I have so many conflicting feelings as well, mainly predominated by a deep terror of catching the virus because I can’t imagine how it would pan out in terms of the hospitals possibly being full here, and also the misery I have been reading about people not getting over their symptoms.

      Our teachers’ rooms and classrooms make it completely impossible to even vaguely take the idea of social distancing seriously. There aren’t even any windows in some schools that can be opened. So if the virus isn’t under control, and the company somehow forces us to go, it could be a death sentence.

      This is why we need perfumes like Jasmine Full (which I am surprised you have, for some reason – I didn’t think you were that florid a gal x) – to just overrun the grimmer things a little bit.

      • Robin

        You have read me right. I am generally a less than florid gal. (Except for roses. I can do those soliflores to the florid floral max. Actually, speaking of Montale, they make a couple of decent ones: Taif Roses and Highness Rose.) But I couldn’t resist Jasmin Full. It’s just too good.

        I hyperventilate when I think of those classrooms. I can see the little virus blobs hanging in the air, waiting to line the lungs of anyone who has the misfortune of inhaling. Ugh. Stay well away and let the chips fall where they may, dear N.

      • My god yes.

        Today we cycled down a different road in the neighbourhood and came across a total rose MANIAC. They smelled so gorgeous.

        What are the top ten rose perfumes; those that veer towards actually capturing the true beauty of them ? I would love a list! I can’t really wear them, only appreciate them.

      • Robin

        Oh, and your basketball comment was perfect.

      • Robin

        Top Tens are tricky. With roses, even more so. For “true rose” — if that’s what you mean by capturing their true beauty, but you might mean artistically capturing their ultimate beauty, which would be the next group — I do like the Montales I mentioned, and also the very delicate but vividly realistic Aerin Lauder Rose de Grasse. Delicate too is Hermes Rose Ikebana and I could drink that. Armani Rose Alexandrie is like being in the middle of a rose garden. I enjoy Rose Opulente from Maitre Perfumeur et Gantier, although that one has a little more going on than just rose. Ditto the refined Cartier L’Heure Defendu VII. Love that one. Cannot overdo. For a realistic rose complete with stems and soil and thorns, Serge Lutens Sa Majeste La Rose.

        (And in case anyone was wondering, I find Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose edt appalling. I don’t understand why some people say it’s the ultimate bargain realistic rose. I’d rather huff cheap rose bathroom spray.)

        But honestly, I much prefer my roses quite heavily adulterated. For that, one of my HGs is Frederic Malle Une Rose. It’s right up there. Hmm. Also Amouage Lyric Woman, not the newest version, esp. in parfum. Maybe my ultimate complex rose blend is Guerlain Rose Barbare. Oh my god, seriously. That’s the one. And their Rose Nacree du Desert. Another OMG. But also a serious contender for Top Five is I Profumi di Firenze Miele Rosa. I don’t know where I’d ever find another bottle, but it is dreamy and infinitely interesting and just plain gorgeous and haunting and thoroughly a rose.

        Below that there are all sorts of interesting roses. Miller Harris Rose en Noir is one I love (but Ric can’t stand. Too dark and dirty). L’Arte di Gucci, criminally discontinued. Tauer Une Rose Chypree and his Rose Vermeille. Vintage Paco Rabanne La Nuit. Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit. Nahema, but of course. In parfum, if possible. (I do have a bottle.) Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie, one little squirt. Neela Vermeer Mohur extrait. Chanel Misia. I am certainly forgetting quite a few, but I’m sure that’s more than you asked for, lol. xoxo

      • Wow. I might have to (seriously) put this up as a post.

        I love a lot of the ones you mention here, at the beginning, but am always disappointed by how they develop (Barbare, for example and Nacree – I hate the conclusions). Malle Une Rose I have yet to smell on another person to get the full picture, but there is something horrifying there in the mix, something bitter and slick (the wine lees?) that I somehow can’t quite take. I got through a whole small bottle of the Rose Ikebana and it suited me, actually – though it is a little passive aggressively ‘wan’ for me. Mohur I love the deep rose of the beginning but not the ‘sandalwood’ of the base : god I am fussy.

        I like the sound of the Firenze Miele Rosa. I love me some luscious Italian simplicity (presuming it is like that).

        I wore Montale Roses to death for a while (they are now D’s mother’s ultimate perfumes along with Magie Noire), but stopped being able to wear that particular oudh note. People around here liked me in those, actually – I got compliments quite often from Japanese people. My favourite, as you know, is still Velvet Rose by Sonoma Scent Studio. It just works for me.

      • Robin

        NEIL. Shocked, shocked, shocked by some of your comments!!!! Actually “hating” the conclusion of Rose Barbare?! That sublime, heavenly, infinitely fascinating experience? How is that possible??? Teasing you, of course, but it is sometimes astonishing what different messages our different noses send our brains. Even with equal practice: you’d have to say that we’ve both smelled a ton of great compositions, so we are theoretically on a level playing field. And Velvet Rose is magnificent, but there is that one note Laurie uses, or accord, kind of a labdanum/patchouli thing, that Ric can’t be near and becomes tedious to me after awhile. So, all part of life’s rich tapestry, huh? I love it. It would be so boring if we agreed. Although sounds like it’s unanimous when it comes to Nahema.

        There is something to be said for the way things develop on different skins, so that might be making the difference in how we perceive the same fragrances. Maybe you need to smell Rose Barbare on me to experience its magnificence! And maybe I need to smell Velvet Rose on you. Meanwhile, if a bottle of the former should fall off the back of a truck and you happen to pick it up, send it on to Roberts Creek. I’ll happily pay the postage.

        Oh, and no, the Miele Rosa is actually not very Italian in that sense of immediacy and legibility. So there’s another rose that seems to have bitten the dust. Ah. But. What do you think of Dusita Le Douceur de Siam, since we’re talking roses and I just read your latest post, part 1. Now I’m very interested!

      • I find Rose Barbare to be dead inside. But then that could also be because I am just deeply bored with the whole rose/patchouli thing (and absolutely agree about smelling things on other people – it is one thing I often regret when writing a perfume review as I KNOW how differently things can be on different skins!).

        I loved La Douceur – I did review it last year I think, and it has taken me until now to start transcribing the interview I mentioned in that piece, back in JULY – my god how time has flown…….I can’t pull it off personally but think it smells gorgeous.

      • Robin

        Rose Barbare a rose patchouli?!? Neil?!! Well, I never.

        I just read your review of La Douceur de Siam and it sounds as though I would be besotted.

      • Definitely worth a try!

        What do you get in the aftermath of Barbare, by the way?

      • Robin

        Aw, nice of you to be open-minded about Rose Barbare and not write it off entirely. You are the best!

        For one thing, for one important thing, I get the initial glorious deep pink rose all the way through. It’s still there at the end, in full bloom, and that’s not always the case, as you know. The rose can wimp out and all that’s left is the base. I think in some ways it’s a linear composition, so most everything is still there, even a kind of bergamot-like citrus note that echos the bergamot of the opening, which R. damascena can have. (Sources I was checking out variously list Turkish rose, Bulgarian rose and/or Ottoman rose.) For me, the patchouli is insignificant, a minor adjunct to more of a chypre-like base. It’s remarkable how much it resembles real, vintage-style oakmoss. It must be a trick of some aromachemicals that bolster the nutty-creaminess of the fenugreek: the only way I can explain it is that it smells golden and creamy rather than velvety and mossy-green, like the golden oakmoss base in things like the original Givenchy III and Antilope. And I almost forgot the honey. That’s part of the whole smooth, unctuous golden impression.

        And that’s pretty much it. I’ve got it on now and yep, it’s everything I remember it to be. Now, I don’t know if you’ve got a sample, a decant, a bottle, and how old it is, but the other thing I was thinking is that whatever it is, it’s possibly past its prime, or if it’s new there might have been some sort of reformulation since I bought my bottle back in, ah, maybe 2015 and which has been in my fridge door ever since and still close to full.

        Oh, what a good chance to tell you that I got my VC&A First edt in the mail and it’s just as you described it. I can’t really see how it’s much different than the original formulation; they’ve done a good job keeping it smelling like something from the time period it was created. I like it. And Ric does, which thrills me to the very core since he averages liking about one in ten. So thank you for that. And thank you mum, and assure her that I’m not a signature scent kind of woman so hers is safe!

      • Robin

        I meant to type “your” mum, I see. But this P.S. was to add that Ric doesn’t like Rose Barbare very much.

      • Robin

        P.P.S. I forgot to mention the apricot/suede bit to Rose Barbare. It is like the note in Daim Blond, a fragrance I adore. Okay, I think that’s finally IT!

  3. Ann

    I love your posts so please don’t feel inhibited in any way. Meant to comment on the one about the children next door as the writing and illustrations were so perfect. Just feeling a bit blah at present.

  4. bibimaizoon

    I love reading your reactions to perfumes and description of the ambiance of the day.
    Jasmine Full sounds like something I need in my life. Forest Essentials, India’s own Ayurvedic luxury cosmetic company had a perfume called Madhurai Jasmine that sounds very similar. Madhurai is a district in southern India’s Tamil Nadu famed for the quality of its jasmine sambac. The sulfurous soils are said to be the reason behind the intense fragrance of the district’s jasmine. It had the cooler, greener, rather breezy and bright feeling you describe, but alas it is no more. I certainly feel languorous and stifled enough already as summer and sickness approaches here in South Asia.

    • The perfume sounds glorious. I love the untarnished aspect of jasmines like that.

      It sounds as though you are like so many of my friends: a heat hater. My condolences.


  5. Tara C

    I can so relate to your feelings of anger, frustration and resistance. Yesterday I felt like my head was going to explode. I went on a rampage in my flat, throwing things away in my powerless rage. Three trash bags full. It actually feels good now. I’m just waiting for the thrift shops to reopen and I plan to purge even more, mainly dishes and clothing.

    I’ve decided I hate the city, I want to move out to a more rural isolated place, possibly near where Robin lives. I’m planning to drive out there in October on a reconnaissance mission. This whole pandemic has brought home to me my hatred of feeling trapped in an urban flat and the interminable winters here. Here it is May 13th, and only 5C. Still wearing my winter scents. But today I’m going to douse myself in orange blossom and preted that some day it will be warm and the world will again feel like a friendly place to be.

    • Oh god I so empathize. Especially if you are not a lover of the cold (so many friends of mine seem to be……I find it completely incomprehensible, personally, but know that everyone is different in that regard. It is BOILING here today and I absolutely adore it.)

      I am sorry that you have also felt insane in this way: I think we all have different things that drive us nuts – mine is less to do with the place that I live than the work culture I am in – it sounds like you could definitely benefit from moving to a different environment entirely, though.

      You have been cooped inside for quite a while now, though, no? And with anxiety issues to boot (mine are definitely increasing….in the day time I am starting to think that I should stop drinking coffee as after the first tea I start getting a bit palpitatingy and very ‘nerves on edge’.

      Cycling has helped. Aside manic throwing away of things, have you found anything else that helps to soothe the anguish?

      It is such a weird and difficult time. I hope proper spring or summer arrives in Canada toute suite!

  6. How lovely a summer like day sounds. Last night it dropped to around freezing and today it is a little warmer, but the house maintains the chill.
    I do enjoy the warmer weather so much, yet I also enjoy being cozy during the cold weather as well.
    I adore jasmin scents, well certain ones, so much. I love Creed Jasmal in particular. How would this compare with Jasmal?
    I only have enjoyed a few of the Montale scents, but never bothered to purchase them. Are they worth it?
    I have been holding up pretty well in the house, and have really not felt the need to venture out. Although, we did go for a car ride on Sunday, which was just us making sure the Tesla was running well after sitting for more than two months. I ended up feeling quite under the weather when we came home; had a low grade fever and was overall feeling poorly. This lasted through Monday, into Tuesday. Today I am feeling more myself, even though I slept until 11:00 am; how decadent.
    We are probably going to continue staying in until there is a vaccine developed. We will take the cars for a spin every now and again though, and take walks around our property for some air and activity. Too risky for me to get the virus, better not to take chances.
    Hope the weather will continue to improve for you in Japan and it won’t become too humid too quickly. The humidity is sometimes a bit much to deal with.

    • I am glad you are recovering from feeling run down. Do you think that started because you went out? That is quite alarming. Could it have been because you picked something up or just from the fact of changing your environment?

      If you have the financial possibility for both of you to stay in for the time being it definitely does sound like the right thing to do. I am hoping I can do something similar, but my workplace has the samurai spirit and I don’t know how much longer I will be able to resist it. They WILL literally, sacrifice themselves.

      But I have been reading more and more about how horrible not only having the virus is, but also the long recovery from it and the horrible after effects; people’s health wrecked, potentially for years. I am actually terrified of getting it, just like you.

      As for perfume, a scent like Jasmal is elegant and suffused with light like champagne; Montale scents are never really poetic compositions in the way the best vintage perfumes are; more ‘smells’ you can enjoy. I think you would find Jasmine Full a tad simplistic!

      • I think I definitely picked something up. I feel better, but still off. It was my first real day out, so I don’t know where else I could have got it, but as I said, I am feeling better
        Nate is lucky that he is in the technology field and his whole company is working remotely. I just hope that won’t change anytime soon, I hope he continues remote working.
        I am truly concerned for you, I don’t think they really “get it” over there. They just don’t truly understand how serious this is. If you do end up having to go in, please, take as many precautions as you can. One can never be too safe.
        I do understand what you are saying about the Jasmine Full, being a bit simplistic for me. The few scents I smelt of theirs were kind of like pastel drawings. They weren’t fully fleshed out like a work in oils. I think I will give it a smell eventually, but for the time being I am positive I don’t need to hunt it down.

      • You don’t!

        And thanks for understanding my situation. I have received sarcastic emails, as I may have already said, asking me whether I am enjoying my ‘stay home time’, that I should avoid being ‘illusional’. I find it exasperating.

        It sounds like Nate is in exactly the right field – I am pleased for you. How do you pass the days yourself?

      • Not a soul should be sending you sarcastic emails during a pandemic. Health and safety come first, or at least that is the common sense understanding.
        We are lucky that Nate has a career that allows him to work remotely.
        As for how I spend my days. Well I have been taking a course offered by Stanford University called Coding in Place. It is to help me embark on a new chapter of life, learning how to code/program.
        I want a career where I can work remotely from wherever I may be.

      • This is great: precisely – very glad to hear you are taking this move. I think a lot of people will be recontemplating everything once we get through this stage. I think D and I are lucky we are in education : his job is much safer than mine as it is a prestigious girls’ school, and there will never be a shortage of parents wanting to pay to send their daughters there. Mine is a prep school for exams, so is much more market competitive, which is why my colleagues are working like dogs trying to keep the company afloat.

        I have been thinking the last couple of days about the Japanese response and slightly reconfiguring my feelings about it. Although all the denial and ‘everything is alright’ oblivion can be terrifying, at the same time, everyone is wearing masks ,and more or less complying with the lockdown, and if the government’s figures are to be believed, considering that the population of Japan is around half of America, the number of comparative deaths is about 2% of the US total (where they have botched things up beyond belief).

      • Job stability during this whole thing is definitely a concern. Hopefully you are tenured at the prep school.
        Hopefully Japan isn’t just glossing over things to make them seem better, which is what many places are doing now…China for instance. The US has most definitely botched things up, pretty horribly. They have botched it up terribly and they are continuing to inflict even more death by trying to get things “back to normal” which I don’t understand. I really just hate living here at this point. After all of this is, someday, under control, we will probably move out of the US. It’s not for us and how we wish to live life.

      • I think you are right. It wouldn’t be mine, either…

  7. John

    Hi Neil,
    Would you say that Jasmine Full is based on Sambac? I’ve been trying to find a nice one of those.

    I’ve also just picked up your book, and have been enjoying it greatly!

    • Thanks very much.

      It is bizarre that you should mention Jasmine Full as I picked that up yesterday and smelled it from the bottle – a real coincidence.
      I would say it is sambac or Indian – definitely not the classic French Grasse style. It is not a subtle perfume at all – but fun to wear in hot weather.

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