Parfum Satori

Scent and Sense in Japanese Culture/@ZHdK(日本文化の香りと感覚)


9th/Nov/2018  スイス・チューリッヒ芸術大学<perfumative>にて講演しました。 後日、邦訳をアップします!


Translucent and without shape or form, I believe that in a post-modern sense, perfume can be regarded as Art. To enjoy "beauty with no form" is typical of Japanese aesthetic sensibilities. Today I would like to introduce everyone to a new way of looking at perfume through the eyes of Japanese culture.



It has been said - that which is fleeting and ephemeral cannot be regarded as Art. However, this actually flies in the face of Japanese sensibilities because in our culture, "fragility" is highly valued. We can observe a contrast in how fragrances and perfumes are perceived in Japan and Europe. In my country, the preference is for light, delicate scents - fragrances that breathe, you could say. The Japanese market is known for being a "perfume wilderness." On the other hand, fabric conditioners are becoming as entrenched in Japanese society as they are abroad. Although differences in scent can be put down to differences in climate and dietary habits, it is also greatly due to our sense of aesthetics rooted in our culture. Hence, I will try to present a study regarding the differences in perceptions towards fragrance based on the following aspects:


1.  What is Art?

2.  Artistry in traditional Japanese Culture

3.  Is Japan a perfume wilderness?


1.What is Art?

When I received the theme for this speech, it gave me the opportunity to reconsider the relationship between scent and Art. First of all, I would like pose a question - what is Art?

It is said that in the West, "art is expected to have eternal qualities."

If permanence is a condition, then how long must a work of Art exist to be regarded as permanent? 

From the point of view of the Cosmos, one hundred years, one thousand years are just brief moments in time where everything with "form and shape" is destined to disappear.

 If that is the case, then to have form does not automatically mean permanence.

I believe that a work of Art is a medium that links "the artist or creator" to "the viewer." The artist discovers the beauty around them and expresses their awe, which the viewer picks up on.

Art does not lie within a picture or a sculpture. Art lies within the "viewer" themself. If the viewer has no sense of beauty, even the most sophisticated piece of Art is tantamount to garbage.

The Japanese sensibility towards Art is to appreciate what lies beyond mere shape and form and cherish it for posterity. That is why it is easy for the Japanese to consider scent - which is formless and invisible - as Art. 


 "Time" is in a constant state of flux. Even though we may meet the same person in the very same place, each encounter is special. We call this一期一会(ichi-go-ichi-e/one opportunity, one encounter.

Whatever or whomever we encounter, it is a once in a lifetime experience. I believe that "eternity" manifests when you are living to your utmost in every single moment.  

2.Art in traditional Japanese culture

 "Dou" or "way" is one of the most typical Japanese aesthetics in traditional culture. If permanence is sought for in Art, then flower arrangement "Kadoh," the tea ceremony "Sadoh" and the way of incense "Koudoh" can certainly be regarded as Art.

I would like to take time here to introduce Kadoh and Sadoh and talk a little about my background with a particular focus on "harmony" and "permanence."

 flower arrangement west.jpg

2-1Kadoh - Flower Arranging

Nothing is as soothing or reassuring as flowers.

When I was a little girl, I would carry a pocket-sized book of flora with me on my way to and from school. My mother ran her own flower arranging school at home and I used to mimic her.


There are many differences between Japanese Kadoh and Western flower arranging. Simply put, Western flower-arrangement involves combining a whole host of flowers to fill a space. 

Japanese Ikebana, however, is the opposite. Flowers and plants are used to a minimum to express one part of a space. In Ikebana, we consider tree shapes and add leaves to create an arrangement that reflects the elegance of Nature.


japanese kado.jpg

The more you learn about the ins and outs of Kadoh, you realize that in order to optimize the beauty of the flowers you are using, you have to remember the importance of harmony within the whole.

I adopt the same policy when I prepare fragrances. Even though a floral fragrance may be at the forefront, I have to combine proper quantities of a top note that will draw out the main scent and a last note that will support it in order faithfully express the mood of the flowers and natural scenery.

Furthermore, I must remember that perfume serves to color a single scene of a person's life, so the fragrance must co-exist in harmony with person who wears it and their environment.


The life of a flower is extremely short - and that is why it has gained the status of immortality. It blooms in the morning and wilts in the evening. This fragility carries with it a sadness, which the Japanese sensibility regards with affection. 

It favors the practice of finding the beauty within the transient, within the impermanent. To regret the passing of something that is dear to you is an essential part of the Japanese character.  


When one is enveloped in a momentary fragrance, the emotions you experience are themselves "immortal."



2-2The Tea Ceremony or "Sadoh"

I started to learn how to conduct the Tea Ceremony when I was 12. Although I looked forward to tasting the tea and the Japanese sweets, when I recall the lessons, the scent of incense and the sound of boiling water in the serene, bright tearoom come flooding back.


People, flowers, light, the iron pot, the room itself combine in harmony to create a sense of Art.


For example, if the tea ceremony existed merely to quench one's thirst, it would not be regarded as Art. Instead, it is the ceremonial practice of preparing the tea that quenches the thirst within your heart. In the same way, for example, Kaiseki course cuisine does not exist merely to satisfy hunger. One's heart is warmed by the immaculate service provided.


Therefore, perfume is not just another consumer item. To wear a fragrance means to sense the beauty within a particular time and space. Rather than wearing an assertive fragrance, one should think more of co-existing in harmony with one's environment and conducting oneself in an elegant manner. This is a major aesthetic of the Japanese culture.



2-3 The History of Fragrance in Japan


  In the West, perfume has been 

"inextricably linked to the body, which was long considered the abominable garment of the soul." ( Pope Gregory Great)

 In Japan, it is used to cleanse the impurity of one's body.

Perfume originated in Europe where there is a long history of applying a liquid fragrance to one's skin. After a long period of self-imposed isolation, Japan opened itself once again to the world during the Meiji Era. Consequently, the history of Western perfume in Japan is still only 150 years old and still lags behind Europe in this respect.

Having said which, Japan has a long history of room fragrance using solidified incense.

The history of incense in Japan can be traced back to the introduction of Buddhism in the sixth century. Eventually it was incorporated into court culture as a sophisticated pastime.

In the 8th century, dyes called "ko-zome" using aromatic ingredients such as cloves or cinnamon were used to dye silk. Not only were the silks beautiful to the eye, the fibers emanated a fragrance and luxurious clothes for the nobility were made from them. The Kimonos, warmed by body heat, would give off a fragrance when the wearer moved.

The Japanese literary classic "The Tale of Genji" was written in the 11th century. One memorable section of the book describes a scene where incense was burnt to infuse the cloth of the Kimono with scent. This scent is used to explain the background and the feelings of the characters in the story.

In the Samurai culture of the 15th century, the incense ceremony was established to heighten spirituality. During this time, various disciplines were carried out to encourage mental training. As a result, this laid the foundations for a unique Japanese culture that seeks to enhance education and artistry.

Buddhist altar.jpg

Even today, most Japanese houses have a Buddhist altar to honor their ancestors and will burn incense every morning and every evening. Japanese people are well acquainted with the aroma of incense from their childhood days.

Although this affinity for scent is different from applying an alcohol-based liquid directly to the skin, a culture centered around fragrance has evolved in Japan, too.  

Incense not only expresses the sense of smell but the sense of hearing as well. We physically sense the aromatic molecules through our noses and at the same time, our heart hears the story the fragrance is telling us.

Scent does not speak in a loud voice. As it is made up of aromatic elements, we sense "beauty" rather than defining it as a "good" fragrance.

Aromatic wood possesses a history of 1400 years, incense 1000 years and the incense ceremony 600 years. Scent has developed hand in hand with religion, literature and education in Japan. Japanese aesthetics have honored the spirituality rather than the physicality of fragrance.

japanese cuisine.jpg

2-4. Japanese food and scent

The Japanese fragrance culture is not just centered around aromatic trees or incense. From season to season, the scents that Nature brings us are the bounty from the sea and the mountains.

Although Japanese cuisine was first introduced to Europe over four hundred years ago, it took a while for its true nature to be appreciated. Japanese cuisine found recognition at last in 2013 and was designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.


However, it is not just the ingredients of Japanese food that have found approval -the food culture that surrounds it that has been appreciated as an Art.


Stretching from South to North, the four seasons are very distinct in Japan. We enjoy the beauty of the constantly changing seasons, respect our many annual events and pay much attention to the ingredients and tableware that we use. At face value, although Japanese cuisine appears to be simple, its preparation is, in fact, deceptively intricate.

Just as this penchant for delicacy in flavor has been understood throughout the world, I believe that in the future a deeper understanding of Japanese scent will grow, too.


 2-5. A question from France

 Before I arrived here in Switzerland, I was interviewed by a French TV network. I thought everyone might be interested in this particular question, so I will answer it here.


Q.And the question was: "I have heard that Japanese people are very sensitive when it comes to odor and that strong perfumes are unpopular. What then are the most popular fragrances for men and women?"

My Answer,

 Well, rather than a particular fragrance or ingredient, Japanese people tend to prefer general scents that are dry or airy.

 Some of the most popular scents are citrus-based notes, which are light and simple and express a love of the seasons. In fact Japan is home to an abundance of citrus fruits including Yuzu, Kabosu, and Sudachi, which are all used in Japanese cuisine. Each fruit has its own distinct fragrance.


The woody note of the agarwood used in the incense ceremony is spicy, warm and dry and acts as a cleanser of the heart.

During the Incense Ceremony, a small piece of lit charcoal is placed in the ash of the incense burner. It is covered with a Mica plate and a piece of agarwood is put on top of it. However, the agarwood is not burnt. By indirectly warming aromatic wood, its perfume is released into the air in a milder fashion and gently surrounds the incense burner.

This is an alternative method of diffusing scent different to that of using ethanol. Indeed I have tried to create scents that express the indirect soft light from Shoji, paper windows.


3-1. The Perfume Wilderness

What we can glean from this Questionnaire

These are the results of a research regarding perfume (Image Source: Marsh)

Only 8.4% of those questioned wore perfume everyday. People who "often" wear perfume also accounted for 8.4%.

40% of women and 60% of the men questioned said they never wear perfume at all.

This is why Japan is often regarded internationally as a "Perfume Wilderness."

On the other hand, the demand for fabric conditioners and room deodorant is expanding at a similar rate to Europe and the USA.

Many Japanese women said they were attracted to "fragrance" even if they do not wear perfume. However, this does not refer to essential oils. Many end users said that they often spend up to an hour walking around a supermarket sniffing aromatic agents and fabric conditioners.

So, in spite of having an affinity for scent, why has Western style perfume not taken root in Japan?

That is because the reasons for wearing scent is completely different, which in turn leads to the approach towards the consumers as well differs.


3-2. Reason why

For instance, in Japan, perfume is not worn to attract the opposite sex.

Western advertising tends to contain sexual or fashion-based messages for perfume and this type of advertising generally appeals to established users. However, most Japanese wear perfume for their own satisfaction and I believe this is genderless.   


Secondly, Japanese people seek out perfume to create harmony with those around them.

Japanese people may want to keep a distance from overpowering Western fragrances. As I mentioned in my section on the Japanese tea ceremony, there is a respect for maintaining an overall balance and harmony.

Relaxation and calm is born from a love of the seasons and the Japanese appreciate the atmosphere and mood produced by perfume.


Thirdly, there is the question of humidity.


Most perfumes on sale in Japan were manufactured in the West. However, due to the influence of climate, the fragrance they give off is different.

The air in Japan tends to wrap itself around you and encase odor, which means that European fragrances come across as too aggressive. This is because they were created in accordance with dryer climates.


As Japanese people value harmony above self-expression, many perceive perfume with suspicion and even actively dislike it.


Although Japan has the capacity to accept scent as Art, the sexual and fashion-related image of Western culture has struggled to establish itself there. This is why I decided to create Japanese-style perfume.


 3-3. Japanese-style blending and the world


New perfumes are created not through seeking out unusual fragrances, but through new accords of standard ingredients. If Japan has recourses, it is in its understanding of culture. I would like people to understand the story behind matter - history and lifestyles, for example.


I believe that perfumes should be created for local, not global tastes. Instead of basic and uniform fragrances, scents should become more personal. 

From the viewpoint of diversity and inclusion, niche perfumes can contribute to worldwide abundance, which in turn will no doubt lead to more people enjoying the wonder of perfume.


.In Conclusion

Although Western Art values that which is permanent, true permanence can actually only be found in that which has no form - that is the Japanese perspective on Art. 


 "Fragrance is more than a fashion accessory and is worth a theoretical reflection. It becomes a paradigmatic form of the time."


When I received the theme of this meeting, I felt an affinity towards this new western wave.

I believe the possibilities of perfume are limitless, because more than any other kind of Art, it penetrates the soul.


Thank you so much for listening to my speech today. I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone involved in the organization of this event. 


バイオレット調香体験教室11月24日(土) Parfum satori fragrance school






日程: 11月24(土)午後13時30分から約90分 

場所: パルファンサトリ 2階 アトリエ (六本木)

受講料・教材費: 10,000(10,800円税込)  (要予約)

締め切り: 11月20日(火)

定員: 5名






パルファン サトリ フレグランススクールにご興味のある方は是非ご参加ください!








106-0032 東京都港区六本木3-6-8 OURS 2F    

TEL 03-5797-7241 

 最寄駅からの順路➤地下鉄南北線 「六本木一丁目」駅 西改札より徒歩3分

     または➤地下鉄日比谷線、大江戸線 「六本木」駅 3番出口より徒歩7分


ノーベル賞 金貨 Nobel coin chocolate











桂(カツラ)の葉はしょうゆの匂い,Cercidiphyllum japonicum





















木綿のハンカチーフ handkerchief



















-香りが好きでお仕事したい方を募集中- recruit_parfum_satori








ジャスミンの調香体験教室10月20日(土) Parfum satori fragrance school










パルファン サトリ フレグランススクールにご興味のある方は是非ご参加ください!

日程: 10月20(土)午後13時30分から約90分 

場所: パルファンサトリ 2階 アトリエ 

受講料・教材費: 10,000(10,800円税込)  (要予約)

締め切り: 10月16日(火)

定員: 5名








106-0032 東京都港区六本木3-6-8 OURS 2F    

TEL 03-5797-7241 

 最寄駅からの順路➤地下鉄南北線 「六本木一丁目」駅 西改札より徒歩3分

     または➤地下鉄日比谷線、大江戸線 「六本木」駅 3番出口より徒歩7分


Creating Oribe /Matcha fragrance 織部の香りのできるまで



  People often ask me what comes first - the name or a fragrance. It's really case-by-case.


  Sometimes I decide upon a theme and the fragrance is formulated as I work towards it. On other occasions, I struggle to find an appropriate name once the perfume is complete. My working name for this particular fragrance was Matcha (a powdered green tea used in Japanese tea ceremonies), and its official name came later. Matcha struck me as being somewhat unimaginative and after jotting down and erasing several ideas, it was the name "Oribe" that came to me.


  Furuta Oribe was one of the major disciples of the celebrated tea master Rikyū in the 16th century. Although he conducted tea ceremonies in the manner of his master, he was also known for loyally keeping the spirit of his master's teaching,  "Always try something different." Oribe was bold and liberated in character and introduced a new sensibility of beauty into the world of tea, bringing about hugely popular gardening methods, architecture and porcelain that were referred to as

  "in the taste of Oribe." The green and black designs of tea sets over 400-years-old are novel and unique even today.


  I can't exactly remember when I first heard the name Oribe, but I know it was when my mother was talking to me about her tea utensils. I officially entered the "Way of Tea" (Chadō/Sadō) when I was twelve-years old. As I came into contact with the tea ceremony - either with my master or with my mother - stories regarding Furuta Oribe found a place within me, and led to the naming of a fragrance several decades later. Therefore, I must also credit my mother.


  I started to read more about Oribe after naming the perfume. The famed author Ryōtarō Shiba praises him, "In the world of formative art, he was probably the first person with a sensibility for the avant-garde."


  Some people have asked me why I named this fragrance Oribe instead of Rikyū. Although a flash of inspiration isn't reliant on logic, I could put it down to the fact that Oribe isn't as well known as Rikyū. I wanted to "try something different."


With my fragrance "Satori," I not only strived to recreate the aroma of agar wood, I also wanted to manifest the appearance of an elegant woman in the purity of a Japanese-style room. In the same way, the fragrance of Oribe goes beyond embodying the refreshing aroma of Japanese tea, it represents the spiritually of practitioners of the Japanese tea ceremony.


  The slight bitterness comes from cis-Jasmin, which is a single aroma used in Jasmine Note to create a bitterness and astringency.


  For flavor, I included Violet leaf.abs. Although Violet leaf is said to resemble cucumber, I think its aroma is closer to that of dry ingredients such as kelp extract.


  A refreshing green aroma can be a little one-dimensional, so I added body with floral elements.     



  The tea tree, the Sasanqua and camellia japonica all belong to the camellia family. The Sasanqua blossoms in late autumn, the camellia in spring and tea flowers in December. Tea flowers are charming, like small white camellia blooms and their aroma is delightful. The fragrance resembles that of Sasanqua and also Hedion. Hedion is an essence that contains elements of Jasmine. This is why Tea Note and Jasmine are extremely compatible.

  I added Jasmin abs. to boost the floral volume.

  I included Iris butter and other natural essences to recreate the foamy and powdery sensation of making a light tea. I was aiming for something more complex than a plain green-type aroma.


  I observe a ritual of drinking Matcha every morning at home. Preparing Matcha for myself when I wake up makes me alert and ready for the day. Enjoying the beginning of the day like this is akin to an appreciation of the seasons.

  In the world of tea, there is a November rite called "switching to a winter furnace" and utensils named after Oribe are traditionally utilized at this time. I hope that this Oribe fragrance will bring you enjoyment in times of reflection.


Parfum Satori  Oribe  EDP


古い腕時計 ROLEX watch






 修理をしたのはスイスの「オーディマピゲ(AUDEMARS PIGUET、略:AP)」で修行した日本人の時計職人で、吉田圭さんと言う。


 銀座にあるスイスの時計ブランド、ウブロ(HUBLOT)で仕事をしていたが、いまは一家を構え、「独立時計師」として静岡に「YSK Watch Instruments」という自分の会社を持っている。











YSK Watch Instruments➣


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■入学2017年 「ジュニア香水ソムリエ®通信講座」 【通信】 大泉さん(30代)




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