Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Smellscapes: Ghostly Japan & Modern Paris

Kaori Shoji recollects an old smellscape that is making a comeback:
The Showa smell is comprised of a lot of different elements but suffice to say, the notes consist of sweat and mildew, of old wood and damp corners in the house, of oshi-ire (押し入れ Japanese style closets), mothballs and ammonia-based toilet cleaning solutions. It's the smell of people over 60, many say the chief smell of the Showa Period is the koyashi (肥やし fertilizer made mainly from cow, horse and human dung) that reigned supreme over the farms and fields of Japan for centuries.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Marie-Helene Wagner inhales a different sort of funk:
If I had forgotten that it this is the season for linden trees to bloom, they did not let me forget that fact. The other day, walking down Avenue Mozart in Paris was a novel experience as I distinctly smelled in the air the smell of horse stables and manure . . .

1 comment:

Olfacta said...

When I was a kid we lived in Japan, on the southern island of Kyushu in a small village adjacent to an Air Force base. I remember that koyashi smell very well. We called it "honeybucket." Our village was surrounded by rice paddies which were fertilized with it. It permeated, well, everything. Excellent article.