About

I am an avid perfume collector, flower lover, scent obsessive, cinephile and Jasmine Literary Award winner, living in the ancient city of Kamakura, Japan. I love scoping out the local antique shops and Tokyo flea markets in search of discarded vintage gems; spend much of my monthly income as a teacher on perfume, and have for years been writing about my own collection for friends who  come to visit: a menu, if you like, to whet their olfactory appetites while they select a new, unknown scent to linger over and savour.

I would now like to share my musings with you.  A mutual exploration to appreciate these scents – all scents, from the classics to the obscure, to the latest commercial releases – from as many different angles as possible.

Perfume is another world – an escape;  at the very least a beautiful enhancement of reality. It is joy, delectation, and can seem to encapsulate existence itself in our memory. A well-chosen scent can seem to capture our essence  – an ‘identity card of the spirit….’

183 responses to “About

  1. Deborah Lauri

    Neil Chapman…can I have your autograph now? BEFORE you get so popular you forget us little peons in the trenches? You made me re-think perfume. I’d never given it a moment’s thought before you.

  2. ninakane1

    Wonderful blog! Magnificent writing. Makes me want to go out and try all the perfumes on here. Congratulations! Looking forward to more posts. xxx

  3. ginzaintherain

    Thank you! I don’t know how it is going to pan out, but I am going to persevere with it anyway. I love it.

  4. Marina

    Keeping secrets from me? You scoundrel! I love this and you.

  5. Veronica

    what is the shelf life of a perfume if I may ask?

    • ginzaintherain

      That is a very good question. It is hard to say. I have actually had very few perfumes that have truly ‘turned’ to be honest: I think most can go on for years, even decades, although obviously in theory light is the main destructor..in all my many years of fuming I haven’t really found it to be the case though….

      Is there any particular scent you are thinking of?

  6. alabasterwrists

    One of the things I love about this blog is it brings to mind so many perfumes of my past I had completely forgotten about and captures their “emotional essence”.
    I look forward to future reviews (especially my beloved Nocturnes).

    P.S.Thank you for being the inspiration behind my pen name and with your permission I would very much like to us it!

    • ginzaintherain

      go ahead sweet wrists…

    • ginzaintherain

      If I really do capture the emotional essence of these perfumes I couldn’t be happier, seriously, as that is what I am trying, consciously or otherwise, to do.

      I do like to write about the new scents as well, but often my passions come more to the fore with a classic. They just seem to have so much more LIFE inside them, most of the time…

      • alabasterwrists

        Yes, the vintage classics do indeed inspire more passion and I love the way you write about them so poetically 🙂 ! Also, I am glad that you understood what I meant regarding “emotional essence”. After using that phrase I thought “do I sound a bit over the edge/crazy?” No one I know has ever completely understood my 40 year perfume obsession 🙂 !!

      • ginzaintherain

        Trust me, I do.

        I am also planning a ‘conversations with….’ thing, so if Nocturnes is really your perfume, we could do a collaboration. I would love to hear your take on it..

    • alabasterwrists

      Wow! big Freudian slip! Meant to say “use” NOT “us” 🙂 !!

  7. alabasterwrists

    No no.. I am the shy person who “lurks” for months before I even comment (although I was pretty quick to jump the gun on this blog after reading your vanilla reviews on OT). I am not in any way an expert and I cannot capture fragrances as eloquently as you can. So you will have to go “solo” and I can put in my “two scents” in the comments section! I have only a small amount of vintage Nocturnes left. Therefore, I do not wear it often but it was probably the one that was the closest perfume to be considered a signature scent for me. I must have gone through 20 or more bottles from my teen years into my early 30s. Very few perfume obsessed know about it, which is why I would love for you to review it..since you seem to enjoy Nocturnes as much as I do 🙂 !!

  8. alabasterwrists

    At times my reticence, fear of failure and lack of risk taking preclude me from an opportunity that could very well prove to be highly rewarding. I believe that this was such a moment. Therefore, if the offer still stands, I would very much like to participate, in whatever manner you deem fit, when you do get around to reviewing Nocturnes. Just e-mail me…

  9. stephvr

    Wow! What a beautiful blog, and a joy to read!

    I must admit I’m writing to you here because apart from wanting to congratulate you I was selfishly wondering whether – as the connoisseur that you are, and as a fellow fan of patchouli – you might be able to give me a little hint?
    The thing is, I have been looking and looking for a ‘grown up’ perfume that captures something similar to a cheap fragrance I’ve been wearing for an embarrassingly long time, but that I still adore and that was discontinued in the late 90s (by now even ebay has run out of it).
    Its main ingredients are patchouli, orange, bergamot, ylang ylang, lemon oil, and then there’s peru balsam, geranium, styrax benzoin and damask rose oil in it too. It’s soft and warm and rich, without being heavy or ‘old lady’.
    Does anything come to mind? I know this is a bit of an imposition, it’s just I’ve been looking and trying out various things unsuccessfully for absolute ages and thought you might be the one to help… I hope you don’t mind too much, any suggestions would be massively appreciated!

    Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to put this wonderful blog out there for all of us strangers to read!

    • ginzaintherain

      Thank you very much for the kind comments, and I will think about your patchouli. In the mean time, did you read my Patchouli Patchouly post? I wrote about quite a few in that one……

      • stephvr

        Thanks so much for getting back to me!
        Yes I have read that one (one of the first posts I checked out!), it made me laugh because, as you say, unless the blend is right, far from lending you a beautiful dark and mysterious note it can so easily just douse you in the universal smell of old hippies and identikit gothy/grungy teenagers. I did make a note of the ones you mentioned there, and am esp curious to smell the L’Occitane one. The one I’m looking to recreate/’upgrade’ actually is – you’ll probably scream ‘philistine!’ now, and I was too embarrassed to mention it earlier – an old body shop scent. Yep, that’s right. It was in fact the ‘sensual’ one from their early 90s ‘aromatherapy’ range.
        I guess it’s the warm wood and fruit combo that makes it special (to me anyway, after all it was discontinued), along with bergamot. Not powdery, not too sweet, not too woody, you know? So the dream would be to find something along those lines… if you can think of anything that would be absolutely amazing!

      • ginzaintherain

        I would never laugh at that because some of the old Body Shop perfumes were amazing, actually, their patchouli oil included.

        My brain isn’t coming up with any bergamotty patchoulis though for some reason, as most of the ones I have come across have been either very dark and earthy, or the ambered ones like Patchouli Patch and Montale Patchouli leaves, OR the ubiquitous fruitchoulis a la Angel or Chanel Mademoiselle, which I am presuming you are not talking about.

        Hang on a minute: there IS one that I really loved, actually, which was Micaleff Patchouli that I would definitely buy myself if I had the money and happened to be in London. I am not sure if that is what you would be after but it is really gorgeous, beginning with an amazing orange note, as dry as a a Campari, which laces the patchouli deliciously. It is soft, warm, but fairly dry, and the patchouli is blended perfectly. Perhaps you could source a sample somewhere (Luckyscent?) and see how that goes.
        If I think of any more I will get back to you!

    • ginzaintherain

      You couldn’t also tell me the name of the scent as well, could you?

      • stephvr

        So I’ve had a good old root around on luckyscents and have ordered a bunch of samples, including the delicious sounding patchouli leaves and Micallef, can’t wait for them to arrive! Thank you again for your time and efforts, hugely appreciated!

      • ginzaintherain

        My pleasure. I would love to know how you get on as well: maybe I can discover a new one myself!

      • alabasterwrists

        stephvr-
        Like Neil I am curious myself as to which Body Shop oil you are referring to…Please do tell! Neil would never berate us for loving those inexpensive beauties. During my second trip to London in ’95 I had the great pleasure of experiencing the launch of the Body Shop’s “Sweet Faith” and “Leap!”. I bought both, as they had not been released yet in the States. I also adored (with a passion) “Wood Musk”. Unfortunately all three were discontinued. Why do perfume companies do that? It irritates me to no end!

  10. Agree with Alabaster Wrists! Though not a perfume, am currently loving their chocolate, cocoa Butter n seed pod bits soap! The Body Shop have hugely extended peoples’ everyday smell experiences at relatively affordable prices for years. In some ways they placed a value on individual scents that offer an opportunity for people to become familiar with them, as well as creating the perfumes that have their own wonderfully distinctive aroma. Wore their ‘unfragranced’ (though it DID have a fragrance) deodarant for years. As for their peach oil. Gorgeous.

    • alabasterwrists

      YES! Ninakane1, I forgot about that gorgeous peach (as well as their cassis oil). They also had a sultry vanilla bean body butter that I wore back in the days when I craved vanilla straight up but their was none found in perfume (until Vanilla Fields arrived).Thanks for reminding me!

  11. Big fan of their rose musk and dewberry oil for years too, patchoulie also. Many a teenage Saturday afternoon joy was had, clinking those long glass perfume sticks in the magic tester bottles. Something wonderful about the colours and textures of those oils, and wondering what the smell would be.

    • alabasterwrists

      Indeed it was “dewberry” NOT cassis that was the name of that oil.

    • ginzaintherain

      The old Body Shop Oils in those glass dippers! Amazing. Their new perfumes are no way near as good, unfortunately, but I have to tread carefully with what I say as my cousin’s husband is the International Creative Director!

  12. Thanks to you too! It is indeed a pleasure to think on these things!

    • alabasterwrists

      Neil-
      You will have to satisfy our philistine cravings and do a review on a Body Shop oil!

      • ginzaintherain

        Definitely. Too depleted from the end of term to write anything at present though. I need a few days of recuperation to get my juices flowing again!

        Thanks for the continued support of this wilting narcissus….x

  13. ‘…that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.’

  14. hmm, have to agree about the perfume oils though. Their soaps are currently my favourite product. They suddenly shifted in the late 90s from their staple and iconic fruity, berry, musky, rosey ranges (which looking back had a certain Englishiana about it, the younger sister of Laura Ashley or the more hippy cousin of Liberty) – all those little bath bubbles- and suddenly moved to cocoa and beans n nut-based products, then all the hemp which was exciting at the time. They sorta went buttery-creamy, a body-bath n hand-cream move encouraging their regulars from sniff n dab, to sniff n slather. I went through a whole love affair with their Brazilian-nut leave-in conditioner, but their make-ups were lost on me, much as I tried. Can’t tell you how many square boxes of blacks, brown, silver and blood-orange purples eye-shadow still clunk around my bathroom cabinet. Then they price-hiked and had an army of slightly-pushy sales assistants during the mid-Millenium materialist boom which put me off big-time (and their shops are not overly-easy to get pushchairs in…). But they seem to have mellowed of late and some of their relaxed and more innovative flair is returning I think. And it is iconic – had a conversation with a saleswoman in there about White Musk last time I was in – she says she’s never stopped wearing it for the last twenty years, and it’s still their biggest seller.

  15. ooh which has led me to ponder and ask – what perfumes could you recommend that have Brazil nut or cocoa butter in them?

    • alabasterwrists

      ninakane1- maybe not so much of a Brazil nut note but Pacifica Mexican Cocoa might do the trick? or the solid of Tibetan Mountain Temple-something in the balm formula dries down to what smells like cocoa butter on my wrist (then again the mexican cocoa in the solid would do the trick as well!) And PG Praline et Santal has sweet nutty notes…hope this helps!

  16. Thanks Alabaster, they sound lovely! Absolutely love cocoa butter so am drawn to the Tibetan Mountain Temple in particular! Will give them a walnut whirl!

    • alabasterwrists

      As I am always one to experiment with essential oils and create my own concoctions may I also suggest that you make your own “solid perfume” by combining raw cocoa butter with jojoba oil (melt in the microwave) and some interesting essential oils such as new caledonia sandalwood absolute (rich, woody and creamy), cocoa absolute (chocolate lovers delight) tonka bean (vanilla-esque yumminess), immortelle (bacon to me straight up but when blended with vanilla notes: superb!) and/or bourbon vanilla (sweet divinity and one our vanilla maniac black narcissus, would surely love). I purchase all my essential oils from Eden Botanicals as they sell samples.

  17. Utterly divine! I am one for dabbling with esential oil concotions and this one sounds lovely! Will give it a go. Thank you.

  18. stephvr

    hello again the Black Narcissus et al, and happy new year!
    just a quick update on my orange/patchouli quest, I’ve been trying my way through those samples and so far Montale’s Patchouli Leaves is my favourite, it’s simple, warm, woody but beautiful. This came as a surprise since there’s white musk in it which I usually dislike intensely, but here it’s politely staying very much out of the picture. Profumum’s Patchouly made me smell like a wild beast roaming the savannah, which was interesting, whereas unfortunately the vetiver got in the way of both Micallef and Montale’s Blue Amber (Vetiver being the signature fragrance of a good friend of mine who is a gentleman in his 80s, so as a lady in her early 30s it doesn’t feel right on me).
    I find it astonishing how most aromas sound fantastic on paper but can smell positively rank in the wrong blend, or maybe it is my unfortunate combo of an acute sense of smell (runs in the family, apparently) and what is beginning to seem more and more like scent fascism…
    Anyway I really admire your ability to delve into perfumes and remain a level headed critic rather than do what I do, which is – at even the most subtle of discordant notes – react like a vampire would to garlic, hissing ‘….euurgh! impossible! get it away from me!’ I shall carry on reading with envy.

    • ginzaintherain

      Lovely to hear from you again!

      I think I am actually like you as well: acute sense of smell and I also have pretty intense reactions towards things: many niche perfumes simply strike me as VILE, often whole ranges of very highly regarded ones as well, which makes me feel like I have somehow missed the plot or am behind the times or something. Yet for The Black Narcissus I do try to remain level-headed to some extent and write vaguely objective reviews. I think I achieve this sometimes, like in that one I did of Where We Are There Is No Here by I Hate Perfume: I do actually hate that scent and yet I could see something interesting within it, some facet that appealed to the mind, or at least the prose fingers…..

      As for patchouli, the white musk thing is problematic for me as well and the Montale is a little to warm and musky for me: however that house on the whole make wonderfully FULL perfumes that are like elixirs and last forever. Did you know at the Paris shop you can even have the strength intensified if you want. I mistakenly did that with my Intense Tiare, which was perfect as it was: in my stronger version it lost something and I regretted it. In other perfumes’ cases though it might be really worth it. What are your next quests?

  19. Sonia

    Love your posts- am relatively new to thus but very much on my way to perfume obsession!

  20. A question about the relationship of the Japanese people with perfume has been haunting me and I think you are the person to ask. The thought came to me when I smelled Kilian’s Asian Tales. To my nose they were blunt, colourless visions of the orient through uneducated western eyes. Then I had the chance to talk to a Korean friend who told me that there is a very strict perfume language in the Korean culture: jasmine is worn by women while sandalwood is something only men would were. There is a lack of information about perfumes created in the Far East and I can’t find any information on this. Any references or personal knowledge would be most welcome either here or through emails at memoryofscent at gmail dot com.

  21. Marvellous site. You tell some magnificent stories. I am a ‘newbie’ to the connoisseurial domain of perfumes but have read your blog avidly and am somewhat in awe of your knowledge. You breathe passion into every scent and I am intrigued. More more please sir! I must confess to being a little regular in my toilette. Guerlain Vetiver for the week, Nuit de l’Homme for the weekend and a daring dash of White Patchouly (TF) for parties and those special evenings. Thank you for your fascinating pages. I look forward to more inspiration.

  22. Hurray! ‘We want you back, don’t care what we have to do, we want you back, doodoodoodoodoodoooooo’ Luv Kylie & Co x

  23. Ah yes, I think you’re right.

  24. Jennifer

    Met your mum for lunch recently and she told me about your perfume writings. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all I can find, keep writing!
    Jennifer (from your childhood). Remember Lucas and Samantha

    • ginzaintherain

      The extremely strange thing is that I was literally just talking about you last night as Duncan and I walked up the hill back home: how of all mum’s friends and the kids we had to spend time with, I liked playing with Lucas and Samantha the best. Such strange synchronicity.

      Hope you are well

      XX

      ( I used to LOVE the Sodastream you had…so envious…)

  25. ginzaintherain

    (and Jennifer, or Aunty Jennifer, as it still feels correct and polite to call you, for some reason I have no memory of what perfumes you wore (if you did: please let me know some of your favourites over the years if so: has John ever worn anything? I need to know these things…)

    Somehow I see you in things spicier than what mum wears, though I could be completely wrong….

    • Jennifer

      Only just noticed your question. Yes I like quite heavy, spicy scents, nothing floral. Obsession,poison ,samsara.. Recently I have quite taken to Britney Spears midnight fantasy
      Samantha’s favourite is obsession,she wore that on her wedding day.
      John wears what I buy, so spicy and more importantly on offer
      I think I like strong perfumes because I don’t think my sense of smell is very strong
      Love Jennifer

  26. Lilybelle

    Hello. The Perfumed Dandy suggested I come look here. What a lovely, delightful site you have! I’ve enjoyed reading about muguet and violet so far, and I see I have other delicious postings to catch up on. I am looking forward to it.

  27. Lilybelle

    We are “through the looking glass” now, aren’t we? 🙂

  28. Pingback: The Perfumed Dandy’s American Scents…Ombre de Hyacinth by Tom Ford Nice, niche but not | The Perfumed Dandy.

  29. beth santos

    From among the online shops,who do you think would be the best source for Eau de Metal?I am ordering online for the first time.
    Thank you.

    Sincerely yours,
    Beth Santos
    From the Philippines

  30. Brie, you’re back!!!! Hurray! I’ve missed you!!! How are you doing?

  31. noya

    Very Dear Mr. Chapman,

    Living in a quit remote spot on this earth ,the only way I could

    “travel” was reading and collecting perfumes.

    The second wasn’t easy..

    Crazy lady [62] from a hazy country,enjoying your blog

    SO much!

    I am going to Japan in a month, so,one question:

    are there any Japanese houses of perfume?

    {I know and have [before many years] Zen by Shiseido]

    …could you elaborate on Japanese scents?

    best

    Noya

    Tel-Aviv

    • Noya-san!

      It is true that an overview of Japanese scents is overdue.

      I would say that of course, Shiseido is the main house, and if you go to any Shiseido corner store you can try their exclusives: Koto, Zen, Memoire, More, Murasaki, and so on. All nice, all very ‘classical’ scents based on famous French perfumes.

      There is also a very nice shop near Shinjuku station called Parfums Satori: a Japanese perfumer who does her own scents, and the namesake scent, Satori, is pretty good actually: kind of a Shiseido/Serge Lutens Feminite du Bois but more Japanese, more woody, camphorous. Make a beeline for that shop if you can.

      In terms of actual perfume shopping, only Isetan, Shinjuku is really worth visiting I would say. It has all the niche brands, and is the poshest department store I have ever been to anywhere in the world. Intimidating, almost (and SO many shop assistants!)

      There is, actually, come to think of it, also an interesting perfume shop in Ginza called Down To Earth, which do their own scents. Their rendition of jinchoge, or Daphne flowers, is quite naturalistic and impressive.

      Any J-info you want, let me know.

      • noya ohana

        My Dear Pefume Angel,
        Can you imagine that only today I have found your reply to a question
        asked 3 years ago?
        I have tears in my eyes..
        .My daughter Ella,is now an exchange student [art,photography] at the Tokyo university,a good reason to fly again…
        I have written you yesterday,but have no idea where to look for the respond…But your first answer is elaborated enough for me!
        Keep on doing what you do,and know that you bring magical moments to people who are so thirsty for them

        Noya

  32. Sally M

    I’ve been avidly reading and loving your blog and posted to the article about Youth Dew last week although I see my post is still “awaiting moderation.” Is there something else I need to do – I’m pretty new to this blogging thing 🙂

  33. Excellent and in-depth article in the first edition of ODOU magazine. It covers aspects of Japanese culture as well as a world wide investigation of smell haters. You should have a read. The article was so good I thought it had been written by you. And it was! Well done and congratulations Neil.

    Write On,

    Jordan River

  34. Hello Neil!

    Just a quick message to let you know how much I enjoyed your article in ODOU 🙂 It was absolutely fascinating and I couldn’t even fathom living in a beautifully scented world! I’m also really glad that I found out about your blog as you write beautifully and make me want to sniff all your recommendations (isn’t that one of the points of a perfume blog?!)

    I look forward to reading you blog regularly,

    Nafia.

  35. Hello!
    You have a marvellous blog here. I am enjoying it indeed. Thank you.

  36. ShaLeah

    I found you while searching for the best coconut perfumes on Google. I have to say, you write seductively. You entice the reader into escaping into that feeling the scents have roused in you. It’s made me want to try every single one of those perfumes. Thank you.

  37. Sally M

    Congratulations on your Literary Award! Excellent article and highly deserved 🙂

  38. ninakane1

    Fantastic news Neil! Well done! You totally deserve it! xxx

  39. Neil, congrats on your receiving the Jasmine award. Wonderful recognition and well deserved!

  40. Katherine

    Thank you so much for your beautiful blog. I enjoy it so much.

  41. CrazyGuyinThailand

    Awesome blog 🙂

  42. jennyredhen

    Hi Neil,
    l I was wondering if you know anything about a perfume called White Rose by Dyjar. It is in a gorgeous little tall narrow bottle with red yellow and blue stripes going up it . It looks very art deco. I cant find anything about it anywhere. I can send photos if I have an email address or somewhere to send them to. I realise this is an imposition on your knowledge and I am extremely grateful for any help.
    Thanks Jenny Dalziel

  43. Thanks for replying. I dont think I can up load a photo to your blog. If you sent me an email to jdalziel@inet.net.nz I could reply attaching the photos.

  44. Miki T

    Thank you so much for the beer and the insightful conversation yesterday! Was great meeting you guys and hope to see you around some time soon. Please pass on my thanks to your partner (whose name I didn’t quite catch… ) as well!

    Miki

  45. Wonderful to have found you (at last). I comment here, since although I am appropriately wearing Gardenia today, I realised that your ‘Gardenia Crime’ was a re-post, so I couldn’t comment there. I enjoyed being there in spirit on the cemetery at night on the moonlit path surrounded by the scent of narcotic gardenia. Gorgeous.

  46. Julia

    Hello Ginza,
    I have been an avid reader of your blog for a while and on top of loving your way with words, I am extremely jealous of your frequent perfume finds…
    I will be in Tokyo for about 3 days in mid-July. Could you please recommend me some shops or markets that I could scour for vintage perfume? (Although I understand if not… you wouldn’t want competition 😉 )

    • No, it’s ok. If I were that protective I wouldn’t even mention them. It’s important you realize, though, that nothing is guaranteed and that you most of the time come away empty handed.

      I do have a slightly photographic memory when it comes to these things, however, so tell me what you are after and I can take it from there. Vintage Chanels? L’Air Du Temps? What are your bargain holy grails?

      • julia

        thank you so much, Ginza, for sharing the wealth, And no worries — i am just in japan to eat this time around, so I would like to have something to do between mealtimes 🙂

        Things i would be interested in: vintage Guerlain, Chanel, Shiseido mainly… but if there are other shops of interest I would love to visit. i will also be in Kyoto and Osaka for a few days if you know anything about those cities. Thank you once again!

  47. jennyredhen

    If Julia was to trawl through all black Narcissus blogs she would find that information.
    It is after all Neil’s intellectual property that he has invested a lot of time and money in. Should it really be given away…. if Neil was to produce a perfume hunters guide to japan … maybe it would be a best seller!!!!!

    • jennyredhen

      I am just putting my oar in.

    • Julia

      I have noted some of the places that Ginza/Neil has previously mentioned in his posts about vintage perfume finds but was curious as to whether he might have other suggestions to make. Of course he is very much free to not respond.

  48. Oh I wish I was in Japan right now! Happy perfume-hunting and delicious food-noshing O happy Nippon wanderers (and dwellers)…

  49. Katy McReynolds

    Have I gauchely mistepped? Why are my comments now waiting for moderation? I have been joyfully participating here for more than a year now without ever seeing the waiting for moderation doo-hickey…..

    • There is no way that is intentional on my part! I am the least controlling perfume blogger out there, have no ‘rules’, and don’t edit anything.

      I am having several problems with the site at present but am a total computer moron. My apologies!

  50. Katy McReynolds

    What a relief! If you are are a computer moron, then I am your fellow computer moron!

  51. Hi Neil,

    This is Alex over at Pinrose in San Francisco : ) I wanted to reach out to you because we LOVE your blog and thought our products might be right up your alley! We are a start up fragrance brand based out of San Francisco. We are not the usual fragrance company though…we are striving to make the process of buying perfume easy, fun and interactive. Our website (www.pinrose.com) is a virtual party that allows you to take a synesthesia test, which tells us all about your sensory preferences. We then analyze your answers and can prescribe the perfect mix of fragrances for your unique personality and panache. We send you samples of those fragrances for free in the mail in what we call “petal packs”. Petals are the perfect single dose of fragrance–great for on-the-go–and our early customers are obsessed with them (thank goodness!).

    I would love for you to check out the website and take the quiz! Afterwards, please let me know what fragrances you were matched with and I would be happy to mail you some complementary samples of those fragrances and more : )

    Also, check out some of our recent press if you want to get a better feel for what has been resonating with our customers!

    Wallstreet Journal
    Refinery29
    W
    Into the Gloss

  52. I would like to know about one of the images on your home page and if I can use it in my book. I would also, like your website to take the quiz. truly believe we all have a scent we carry with us when we come here, but to extract that fragrance into matter is powerful!

  53. hello,
    I do enjoy your website! The passion is palpable and just jumps at you.
    And I find the way you place the photos and the type setting with those long spacings most elegant …
    My partner and I will be traveling from Germany to Japan for the first time (Tokyo, Nikko, Kyoto) and we’re already most curious.
    I do also hope also to stumble over one of those vintage treasure droves: Chamade, No. 22, some unheard of Caron (Farnesiana, Violette précieuse???) you write about, oh my —
    Could you give me a tip where to find a shop: you mention somewhere in an old mall in a metro station next to a vendor of old washing machines, or something like that.
    Any tips or hints would be most thankfully and gratefully accepted.
    Best wishes from Brussels / and Cologne
    Pascal

    • Hi Pascal.

      I am very pleased you enjoy reading the blog and hope you love Japan. You mustn’t get your hopes up too much about the vintage perfume, though. As I have written before, more often than not you come away empty handed at these places: just once in a while there is something amazing (remember, I am combing these places quite regularly for bargains, which is why I occasionally find treasures like Chamade). No 22 was a real rarity, and you would never find Farnesiana. There is always tons of vintage No 5, Madame Rochas, Diorissimo and the like, but rarely anything more unusual. I find things at the Shinagawa Intercity Fleamarket held on Sundays, and the arcade opposite the station in Jiyugaoka (closed on Thursdays). They have several versions of vintage Mitsouko at the moment if that would interest you, and downstairs there is an amazing vintage perfume shop but she charges quite high prices. The Chamade you mention was a total one-off: literally just a hardware store that on one day happened to have a Chamade parfum. My heart practically jumped out of my chest when I saw it.

  54. Cotton Red

    Neil, thank you for your lovely blog all these years. Not a week goes by without me enjoying your musings. I serve in healthcare so wearing ‘fumes is a no-no (until I get home, that is, at which point I practically anoint myself). My hubby & I will finally get to travel to SE Asia at the end of this year (right after X’mas) incl. a 3-night stop in Japan (the last time I was there was in the ’80s, as a kid)! We’ll be staying in Shinjuku area, but hoping to spend one day in Kyoto. Any places you’d recommend checking out that would give a concise yet well-rounded taste of Tokyo? Also, if you happen to live/be nearby that last weekend of 2014, I’ll happily pack along a sealed 1/4 oz vintage Shalimar parfum for you (in its suede purple box, purchased during a random past extravagant moment but now sits unhappily in my frag chest unworn as I only use my “vaporisateur” EDT/EDP bottles).
    P.s. You should consider turning the hilarious “I WENT TO A JAPANESE WEDDING and the only scent was mine” into a haiku.
    P.s.s. I’m from Indonesia, so to learn that you got to visit Java & experience the beauty there truly made my day!

    • I LOVED Java, as you can tell. I still don’t think I have properly processed it, to be honest, and doubt I ever will; it sent me into a total dream.

      As for Japan: just three days? Get back to me nearer the time and I will have a good think (and yes, you MUST go to Kyoto. The bullet train is so quick and smooth that it wouldn’t be painful to do a one night stay trip).

      You are too kind with the Shalimar…..I would love it, but unfortunately we are away, in the States at that time, livin’ it up in New Orleans.Thanks anyway though (unless you were to pop it in the post…he said outrageously).

      Tell me what kind of things you fancy doing in Japan and I will give you some suggestions.

      • Cotton Red

        Well, you certainly helped convince us to stay overnight in Kyoto; we in fact booked two nights! We’re in our mid & late 30s, generally low-key, laid-back & fond of anything retro, hence our desire to spend more time sight-seeing the more traditional part of Japan. Places & local/authentic foods are what we generally seek when traveling. I understand we might be limited in terms of choices due to the colder season in Japan come late December. In any case, perhaps you can share a few interesting spots that you’d recommended friends & family in the past? For our last 24 hrs (in Tokyo), I hope to at least experience the night life (I think you’d mentioned about dancing/clubbing in Roppongi in one of your blog entries?). I also want to check out the Daikanyama T-site bookstore, as books & perfumes are in my Top 5 of what makes life worth living.

        As for the Shalimar parfum, if there’s a safe U.S. postal address for me to ship it in December (as late as the 19th), I’d be happy to! Feel free to e-mail me with the mailing info and I’ll send it via (3-day) Priority Mail with delivery confirmation. Consider it a holiday gift from a long-distant friend who appreciates you very much.

  55. Bee Lan

    Dear Neil

    I am going to Tokyo next Friday and will be there for 3 days followed by another 2 days in Kyoto. The last time I was in Japan was 20 years ago and now my spoken Japanese is almost non existence. I love to go to those small little shops and flea markets and bat my eyes saying chotto takain ne.

    This is, however, not a happy trip as my sister had broken her leg and I was to pick up my sister from a hospital in Kyoto. But since I have to travel all the way to Japan, I thought I might as well take a quick tour.

    I am wondering whether you can give me a few tips looking for vintage perfume. I am looking for vintage Shiseido, Guerlain and Chanel perfume. This to me is….my mother’s smell. Due to a series of family illness, I am in and out of hospital for 10 years as both my parents were diagnosed with cancer. For 10 years, before my parents passed way, the only smell I know is the smell of hospital – of disinfectent. For many, many years, I am scent adversent.

    I am now trying to recall my mother’s smell – and discovered to my horror, all modern reincarnation of perfume is different from how I remembered what my mother smells before my mum was terribly sick. I still could not wear vintage poison – the smell of its bring tears to my eyes. However, there are also other vintage perfumes that I would love to lay my hands on that do not bring tears to my eyes but happier memories.

    So any tips? My email address is tissuepink@gmail.com

    • You can get tons of vintage Chanel, always, not so much Shiseido, although their entire range is still available in most drugstores or neighborhood Shiseido stores ( Zen, More, Murasaki, Sourire, Koto, among others, and they all smell pleasantly old fashioned and would also make quite unusual gifts.)

      What perfumes in particular are you after? I might know where they can be found.

      • Bee Lan

        Hmmm….I would love to lay my hands on vintage Chanel No 5, 19 and 22. For Guerlain Samsara, Chamade, Nahema, Liu, Vol de Nuit and anything in EDC. I dislike Shalimar though :-). For Hermes, Caleche. For Shiseido,White Rose (I think I read in one of the Japanese boards that the current formulation is different from the older ones), Blue Rose and anything Rose or specific to Japan. I hope I am not TOO greedy. And I know a very very very slim chance, vintage Serge Lutens (with the Shiseido label) and Frederic Malle pre-2005 Une Rose.

  56. Dear blacknarcissus,
    I just found your incredible website and tried to find how send it to others but ……did the person who constructed your website forget to include that feature? Please, can you add a way to do this, for dummies? Thank you.
    Sincerely, Melissa Pride, retired Sacramento homicide psychic

  57. Gerardo Acosta

    I found your website because I was reading about Djedi on Facebook. I am like you. Quite obsessive about fragrance. I have a large collection of vintage perfumes and keep collecting. There is little that is more exciting to me than fragrance. Can’t live without it since I was a child!!!

  58. Melissa Pearce

    Hi Neil
    What is the best email address for your office? I would like to send through a media request for your thoughts on rose notes in unisex and male perfumes.
    Many thanks
    Melissa Pearce
    Journalist
    Sydney – Australia

  59. Melissa Pearce

    PS I don’t know when you are in Paris next but if you haven’t been here, it strikes me it would appeal to your vintage leanings

    http://www.belle-de-jour.fr/fr/

  60. Jess

    What a beautiful blog. Is there a way to contact you privately? I didn’t see any contact info here on the site. I’d love to get your thoughts on something.

  61. Cotton Red

    Wait, I read it! I emailed you awhile ago but never heard back… Kyoto was so lovely & utterly memorable that my hubby & I intend on visiting again in the future, but our next trip will most likely be somewhere in Europe (Sweden, Denmark & UK hopefully). Your return trip back to Japan sounded like a nightmare, I was shocked just reading about it 😦

  62. Many people read your fabulous blog Neil, it is utterly captivating and informative. I am sure there are many more who have read it but have yet to leave comments; some people are cyber shy.

  63. artemiska

    Dear Neil, Spring is here and I was thinking of the watermelon notes of Kenzo Homme which for me means, “Cambridge in Spring/you” but for you meant Rome. And so I found you! Hope you and Duncan are both well. Artemis

  64. Kim Belzberg

    loved the vetiver / rain post. am going to sniff next time it rains to try and pick out the vetiver smell.
    i am delurking (avid reader for a number of years) to ask about perfume hunting in the flea markets of Tokyo. I have read a number of your posts about it and am hoping to do some ‘hunting’ during my trip to Tokyo next week. But your posts don’t have specifics for how to get to the stalls / stores. I am wondering if I can email you to get directions to your favourite haunts as I have been drooling over your descriptions of vintage Chanel and Guerlain!

  65. johanob2014

    Hi Neil!Longtime reader,not so big on comments though.Love the blog.Just wanted to say Hey.xo Johano

  66. #TBT #Japan2005 #Kamakura Ayano my sweet and kind co-worker at NCR Japan took me to see the Giant Buddha statue at Kamakura, when I was in Tokyo and was working a short assignment with NCR Japan in 2005.

  67. cerulean sky

    great blog

  68. Hi there, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind having a look at an old vial of Narcissist brand essential balm for me. I’ve been scouring Google for some info, but I can only find what appears to be remakes like this ( http://www.parfumminis.com/shop/images/narcissusBrandEssentialBalm_3-0ml_Balm_46mm.jpg ) but the lid appears to be metal, slightly thinner and has an indent for it to screw in, rather than the ripples on this image. I’d really appreciate any information you might know or if you know where I should ask. Please E-mail my public address at “animeniac.of.the.rose@gmail.com”

    Thank you very much for reading this through

  69. Andy Campbell

    Hi Neil

    I was told to get in touch with you by Portia Turbo of AFN.

    I’m head to Japan in a few weeks and would love some tips with regards to finding some vintage treasures in Tokyo and Kyoto!

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks

    Andy.

    • Hi Andy

      Don’t know anything about Kyoto, and even in Tokyo it is completely hit and miss, but one place to go is the Shinagawa Flea Market on Sundays at the Intercity Centre – you can usually pick up something there, or else the Jiyugaoka Arcade next to the station that has a good shop upstairs with a glass cabinet full of treasure. Have a good time.

  70. Tiffany Stenderup

    I was wondering if you could help me. I’m looking for a specific perfume.

    It has to be 1930’s or 1940’s.
    Japanese
    It smelled like cherry blossoms and something almost like sandalwood but much lighter.
    I’ve been looking for it my entire life.
    If you know would you please email me

  71. ‘Blooms a rose in the deeps of my heart’…

    Beautiful.. It is talking about a woman in her true wildness.. It is talking about me and all women.. Thank you xx

  72. Veritas

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/02/insider/1966-2016-the-last-hot-type-printer-puts-down-his-tools.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FStrikes&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0

    Wanted to share this with you (and I hope the link works!) for two reasons. First, I know you are a fan of the NY Times and read it religiously. Secondly, you know the subject of the article’s daughter….(hint: the middle aged skinny blonde who love Nocturnes de Caron).

    Did not know where else to post except here! Hope you don’t mind!

  73. Hello, I just happened to find your blog and read about Nakanojo Biennale. I also experienced the one last year for the first time as I came back to my hometown, Nakanojo, afteter 40 years to take over my family business, a hot spring inn. It was nice to know how people, no locals, feel our town and the festival. Please contact me if you have another chance to come to Nakanojo in the future. I’d happy to show you around! 🙂

  74. Carla

    My WONDERFUL friend! How delighted I am to find this work of yours … how perfect, how totally you. Glad to see the project evolve, tho I have some catching up to do on all your last years’ … so going to enjoy reading thru everything. And going to be totally envious and driven nuts that I can’t experience the scents in person … ATM 😉 I am on social media now (for the the first time … ‘this time you know it’s the last time’ …) come find me. Respect, Carla

  75. Locket

    Wonderful evocative musings! Perfume writing is akin to food writing in its ability to fire synapses and wire memory to senses – almost conjuring the absent – and you turn a lovely phrase – thank you (though not thank you at the moment because I’ve been glued to the screen reading them all evening and now have sore eyes!)
    Was intrigued by your scent terrorism – I am freshly disappointed by a blind buy of a FB of SL Fleurs d’Oranger which, after an initial tiny flash of rounded blossom in the bottle when i opened it (but sadly not on the skin), I find too harsh and slightly headachey. I wondered if I could soften it a little – any thoughts/ideas would be gratefully received if you ever get a spare moment. Warm wishes, L.

    • Hope you didn’t buy it on my recommendation! I do like it, but it is definitely headachey, just like Fragile (see my review). And thanks for the compliments: I am kind of at a low ebb at present for various reasons so appreciate it.

      • Locket

        Ha, no – bought fleurs in search of a lutens I scented briefly in a shop about 10 years ago which I loved but couldn’t buy at the time – was sure it was called neroli or had neroli in it but haven’t been able to find it since…. Sorry to hear of low ebb – know that part of the emotional beach well – particularly in the slide to winter UK side – keep on keeping on – it all counts, lows as well as highs

  76. Tracey Koster

    Lovely lovely Neil. Your writing is beautiful, your creativity is enviable..your scent knowledge is off the scale…how I would have loved to share conversations with you about perfumes…instead you did my music theory homework for me when we were at school together. (Tracey Allcock back then)… if I only had a few pounds left I would spend them on flowers, a candle for my home or perfume. We obviously had more in common than we realised. I shall keep reading your wonderful words.x

  77. JonHall

    Neil, inspired by your experiences I am keen to spend a good portion of my fortnight-long Tokyo holiday next month box diving at flea markets and antique/thrift stores. Any recommendations for markets/stores I can’t miss? Or those I should avoid?

    • Check out the Shinagawa flea market at Interforum (near the station) on Sunday from about 9am but don’t expect miracles. Sometimes these places really give, others they don’t. Definitely the old arcade at Jiyugaoka – there is a shop there that always yields if you are after Mitsouko etc.

  78. Asmah

    How to reach ur shop at Fujimicho.
    I am at nakano Fujimicho pls give me address

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