Strolling down a road I have never been down before (how can it have taken me so long to go in the opposite direction?) I not only discovered a – today closed but – very beckoning, curious looking recycle shop, but also an entire temple complex – complete with miniature ukiyo-o-e museum, to which I will inevitably return.

Sometimes on these extended lunch breaks I feel lonely. Not so today : in the blissfully warm, autumnal sunshine I sat on a stone ledge beneath a tall cypress tree and just felt the air.

In front of this wooden sliding screen window, before a house in the grounds, was a beautiful yuzu tree; with thick, crinkly skin; just a graze of its tight, crenellated surface enough to release some of its scent; the sacrosanct atmosphere forbidding all theft ( I am terrible when it comes to citrus ).

Even the cold pressed yuzu oil somehow doesn’t render the unique beauty of this long prized natural essence. The Muji essential oil I bought recently worked nicely in an iyokan, grapefruit lip balm/ vaseline hand cream I have given to some students ( for optimism and positivity ), some friends and myself called The Magic Orange, but it was more likely the iyokan-bright eye opener that starred there; the yuzu more a cameo background.

A drop on my toothpaste in the afternoon was quite enjoyable (deliciously cleansing and gum-clean), but still, I have never really found anything yuzu inspired that comes close to the natural peel. There are countless Japanese made solid perfumes, hand creams, body sprays that feature yuzu; some quite nice but usually with that synthetic unwanted undertow that you always hone in on.

In perfume the yuzu it is often too sweet (Oyedo by Diptyque; a real toothacher); brash ( Heeley Note De Yuzu; nice but a bit too late 90’s gay club); odd (Parfumerie Generale’s minty Yuzu Ab Irato); flouncy yet drab (Yuzu by J-Scent, Yuzu Fou) or even non-existent (Caron’s rubbish Yuzu Homme, which seems not to contain even a single drop).

No. It is best in the fruit.

Just picked from the branch with its prickled twig; rubbed on the skin..


Filed under Flowers

14 responses to “YUZU AFTERNOON

  1. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    ‘Nice but a little too late 90ies gay club’
    My first loud out laugh this morning while reading this Ginzainesque tribute to all that’s citrus
    And yes I agree. There’s nothing like killing a bitter citroen (Dutch) in the flesh

  2. Sounds like a perfect little exploration. I love yuzu this and yuzu that but I don’t think I’ve encountered the whole fruit before. Heeley Note de Yuzu got a lot of wear on me this summer, although I could do with slightly less of the marine facet.

    • Precisely.

      We have a full bottle – never properly worn for the duration : this shall now be remedied.

      (Isn’t it famous though for not actually containing any yuzu? A clever rendition thereof?)

    • Ps if you have yuzu this and that etc but have not encountered the actual tree ( imagine a Brit in this situation )you can imagine why I have never been able to resist twisting them off the branches. ( today I forced myself to desist) but there is lemon tree near us whose fruit is RIDICULOUSLY exquisite

  3. OnWingsofSaffron

    There was a lemon tree in the garden of my mother. The miracle of the citrus tree is that the flowers bloom at the same time as the fruit ripen—all year round. A busy little tree indeed!
    I’m aware that it may sound totally trivial what I am saying, but to me the wonder is the overwhelming fragrance of the flower, not so much the scent of the skin of the fruit. Last year we were hiking along the Amalfi Coast, and the perfume in the air was just inexplicably entrancing: a sweetness, a floral-ness, an elegance, and a divine radiance—God almighty, what an experience!

  4. Sounds like a glorious afternoon. I would adore smelling fresh yuzu so much. I have had sauces, and such that contained yuzu juice that were delicious, but I have never smelt a fresh one. The note doesn’t come across well in parfumery either, I agree, so I am missing out. One day I will smell it.

  5. There’s a yuzu tree and a Buddha’s hand tree at a roadside cafe nearby me. Some of the sheltered valleys here in the Himalayas never have frosts and have orange groves also. Citrus trees are amazing, from the velvety green of the leaves to the honey butter scent of their blossoms. The fruit is almost an unnecessary encore.
    I bought a posh $$s artisanal lemon oil from my native California for baking once. I thought it would save me time spent zesting fresh lemons. It was quite potent, anymore than a drop would leave baked goods tasting like furniture polish. It was also caustic, dissolving anything plastic it touched. The flavor was never as good as fresh lemon zest though, so I concluded that citrus oils must have several highly volatile compounds that don’t survive time and temperature variations. Probably why perfumery rarely captures the full olfactory citrus experience.

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