In Japan, as soon as the month of April enters, a new scene blossoms — quite literally. Streets are peppered with pretty pink cherry blossoms, landscapes turn lush green and the smell of sweet, dewy fresh petals fill the air. What a happy and blissful time of the year! If only you could bottle up this moment and relive it anytime, right? Well, many Japanese perfumers already have.
Spring is so iconic in Japan that countless local fragrances are made with this season in mind. The extensive spring-inspired perfume selections can also be attributed to the Japanese's love for fresh, sweet scents. Believe it or not, having a pungent smell, especially in the workplace, can count as harassment in Japan. Sume-hara, which means "smell harassment", is an offence that's taken seriously. And it's not just about having body odour, it can also refer to wearing strong headache-inducing perfumes or fabric softeners. To play it safe, subtle scents such as those inspired by the spring season are preferred by the locals.
If you share a penchant for fresh, light scents, keep reading to know beloved Japanese perfumes that smell like spring.
Floral: Sakura by Miya Shinma
Japanese perfumer Miya Shinma now lives in France but she always has a soft spot for her heritage. In an interview with Magazin GF Luxury, she shares that her "essence" will always be based in Japan, her country of birth. This must explain why all of her perfumes are rooted in Japanese traditions. The Sakura By Miya Shinma, in particular, is heavily inspired by the tradition of hanami or flower viewing. It's a perfume that encapsulates the happy and whimsical vibe of spring in Japan. Curiously, it doesn't feature sakura extracts. Instead, it uses rose essences, citrus notes, peony extracts and musk. All these notes together create a scent described by patrons as "fruity and floral in a very fresh way."
Floral-Woody: L’Eau d’Issey Pure Nectar de Parfum
A scent that will remind you of the first days of spring, the L’Eau d’Issey Pure Nectar de Parfum was inspired by the nectar of blooming flowers. If you examine the bottle closely, you'll see that it resembles a drop which is supposedly an homage to the way nectar is suspended on petals for a brief moment. Flower extract is also the heart of this perfume. It uses sweet rose essence as its main source of fragrance, topped with honey pear and creamy sandalwood. Blogger and perfume lover Laura Ferry characterises this subtle Japanese perfume as the scent that "will bridge the gap between those who love fresh scents and those who are indifferent to them."
Citrus: Zoologist Nightingale
Let's make this clear: Zoologist's perfumes may be named after exotic animals but they don't use animal-derived ingredients in any of their scents. The names are more of an ode than a description. One of their bestselling perfumes, the Nightingale made by Kyusu-based perfumer Tomoo Inaba, was inspired by an old Japanese poem written by Fujiwara no Kenshi about her sister, the empress at the time, who was entering nunhood. In an interview published on Zoologist' blog, Inaba says that the poem's emotional theme led him to "choose perfumery materials such as plum blossom, which is associated with the arrival of spring and new beginnings in life". Many published reviews on this perfume note that it's a complex, aromatic yet fresh scent.
Fruity: Hana Hiraku by Parfum Satori
A perfume based on flowering magnolia trees in spring, Hana Hikaru is given an interesting twist with the use of melon as its top and miso as its base — yes, the same miso used in cooking. The result is a noteworthy, intriguing scent. Now, you may think that it's a confusing perfume that is a candidate for sume-hara but customers actually say that it has a well-balanced scent — not too sweet, not too savoury. It's the kind of perfume Goldilocks would want to have.
Powdery: Flower by Kenzo Eau De Toilette
Who can talk about Japanese perfumes and not include one of the most iconic fragrances in recent history: Flower by Kenzo? Released in 2000, this millennial perfume was an instant classic. Over two decades, the scent has been infused into shower gels, body lotions and so on. But the most interesting was the Flower By Kenzo Le Cushion, which was introduced in 2018. Basically, it's a jelly version of the scent packaged in a cushion case as inspired by the popularity of foundation cushions at the time. The multiple use of this fragrance tells you one thing: it's undoubtedly versatile and distinct. The original mix of Bulgarian rose and bourbon vanilla is now reimagined with variants like Flower By Kenzo Eau de Vie and Kenzo Eau de Lumière gaining their own fan base.
Which one from these spring-inspired Japanese perfumes caught your fancy?
Next, find out which scent matches your star sign.