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Japanese sensitivity to scent? 2011/2/6 16:57
I'm curious what would be the "culture" or preference of Japanese in terms of perfume or scent?

I read a blog which states that Japanese people don't like to wear perfume because it's a sign of status that only the "high" people can wear. Some say they just prefer having no scent at all. I find this very interesting especially because I myself am a fan of perfume, and Vanilla scent at that! And to read about incidents when foreigners were looked down upon or randomly reproached because of their scent is rather peculiar and not to mention "scary" for me.

Care to elucidate? :)
by lastmockingbird  

. 2011/2/6 22:34
Japanese hate perfume. It is often banned in schools and work places and odourless anti-perspirents are usually used.

If you wear strong perfume you may get looks or comments from people, especially if you use public transport and are in close quarters.

Smelling of sweat seems to be generally acceptable though, so go figure.
by Hmm (guest) rate this post as useful

.. 2011/2/7 01:14
I'm not too sure about the "Smelling of sweat is okay" bit, because as far as I noticed, really bad smelling people are also frowned upon...

But it is in fact quite true that having a strong perfume is also seen as a bit rude.
Maybe because (at least in big cities as tokyo or osaka) public places (trains, buses, even offices) are quite small, and crowded with a lot of people, and in these conditions, it is not pleasant to smell 15 different kinds of perfumes or colognes...
by Tatum rate this post as useful

perfumes 2011/2/7 08:39
It is not just in Japan.
I live in Canada. For many years we haven't been allowed to wear perfume at work. Quite a few public meetings, workshops etc. ask participants to refrain from wearing perfumes, scented deodorants etc.

I read that many young Japanese women buy famous perfumes as a status symbol.. They have a collection of bottles to show off to friends..

Vanilla is widely used in cooking...to me it would smell weird on a person...especialy because at work whenever a patient had a Vanilla smell it meant that he was using vanillas extract as a drug...

by Monkey see (guest) rate this post as useful

scent 2011/2/7 11:27
But if I am to wear perfume (let's say I am used to it), what scent would be recommended? Would it be oriental or fruity type of scent?
by lastmockingbird rate this post as useful

Fragrance 2011/2/7 13:07
It doesn't really matter what the fragrance is, what matters is that it should be extremely subtle, i.e. the people sitting next to you on the train don't have to be smelling it constantly for half an hour- it's just a politeness thing really.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2011/2/7 13:36
Yes I think that it is more to do with japan being so crowded as people said on trains etc and to make it bearable people have learnt to be very considerate to the people around them just another part of the mana (manner) list everyone is expected to abide by. In any country if you were squeezed onto a train next to a woman smelling like floral toilet freshener I think that would be quite unpleasant if you didn't like the smell.

What I do not understand is why businesses / political organisations/ train stations etc are allowed to get away with noise and scent pollution. It is perfectly acceptable for a shop keeper stand in the way on a busy narrow pavement and shout (I mean shout) with a loudspeaker at passersby about the cheap trainers they have on offer.
The same thing with politicians shouting on those loudspeakers mounted on top of vans.
And the shop "lush" (not limited to japan) are aloud to commit the worst act of scent pollution I have ever experienced You can smell a "lush" soap shop long before you see it, surely that violates scent manners more than some girl wearing Chanel number 5 on the yamanote line.
But this is Japan so dont think about the rules just follow them.

by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

Lush not as bad 2011/2/7 14:45
Yes, Lush shops are awful, however I disagree that they're worse than someone wearing Chanel No 5 on the Yamanote line- unless I make the choice to go into a Lush shop, I have passed it in seconds and can no longer smell it, whereas if I am squashed on a train next to someone who is wearing perfume and the smell bothers me, short of changing carriages I don't have much choice other than to bear it until I or that person gets off.

by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

bottom line 2011/2/7 15:34
so bottom line is, wear subtle to no scent at all? :(
by lastmockingbird rate this post as useful

subtle perfume 2011/2/7 15:49
Isn't that pretty much how its supposed to be worn? No one likes an overpowering perfume, and if you can smell it on yourself than you're probably wearing too much. I think this article (http://www.ehow.com/how_2126815_wear-perfume.html) sums it up nicely:

"Perfume is a fragrance accent and not an aroma mask... subtly is the key to proper application"

Check out the rest of the article. Its's got some good advice that you may appreciate.
by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

@sira 2011/2/7 17:38
I guess my point is; with manners it seems that one rule applies for individuals (no talking loudly on train , don't wear strong perfume etc) and yet businesses or any organisations with any slight heir of authority are allowed to get away with the most extreme examples of bad manners (politicians shouting in the street, lush shops gassing out entire shopping malls). Maybe I should not have said it is "worse" but it should at least be considered as the same.
I have no choice to walk past that lush shop on my way to somewhere and the "offensive zone" is a lot larger than one persons perfume. Similarly with the trainer(sneaker) sellers shouting outside their shops with loudspeakers and standing in the way in an obviously busy street. Just as you cant get away from the woman on the train, passersby have not chosen to be subjected to the aural offense they have no choice but to risk a broken ear drum on their way to the conveni.
I enjoy the benefits of these manners being applied on trains and I agree with you but the OP suggested it was something to do with Japanese sensitivity to smell....well I guess in japan it is a little more complex....people will not tolerate individuals being inconsiderate to those around them but will tolerate to an extraordinary level the bad manners and inconsiderate actions of businesses, shops, politicians etc.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

perfume 2011/2/7 18:41
Basically, yes, there is no need to walk around in a cloud of fragrance so strong that other people can pretty much taste as well as smell it, and this goes doubly in a country as crowded as Japan where it's even more frowned on than in other cultures. I think perfume was never meant to be anything but subtle in any culture anyway.

Gilesdesign, I get your point, and agree that it is not so much a particular sensitivity to smell thing as one of manners.

Even though making a lot of unnecessary noise in public isn't tolerated in my own country (whether individuals or businesses), Lush gives out the same amount of smell there as it does here and probably annoys at least as many people, but I don't think there is any legislation to regulate that kind of thing yet- maybe something governments need to work on?
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

Interesting Comparison 2011/2/7 21:04
I use Old Spice Swagger roll-on sticks that I brought from the US. In the US if I rolled the sticks 2-3 times in each pit, I would be told that I don't apply enough deodorant and stink.

In Japan, I'm told the opposite, that I apply too much. On days where I forget or choose not to apply deodorant there is no problem.

This past summer with the heat wave, and me being a larger, easy to start sweating person after Gym class, my school uniform would be soaked from head to toe with sweat. They apparently preferred that smell over my deodorant.
by DemonicDerek rate this post as useful

. 2011/2/7 23:12
Japan has a long tradition of perfumery that goes back about 1400 years. It is called "ko" and centuries ago it was a luxury.

Nowadays, perfumes of the highest brands are sold in teenager's shops. But I think more people tend to prefer the scent of shampoo or soap rather than perfumes.

When I was young, high school boys were supposed to be a smelly, sweaty bunch unless they were off for a date. Today, whenever my son brings home guys from his class after school, the whole room smells like fruits and flowers.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2011/2/7 23:23
makes me sad to know I won't be able to wear my Vanilla scent perfume though as I am really fond of it. I mean, yes I could wear it in Japan but I would have to be ready with getting the stares and comments and all. :(

I guess flower/fruity scent would be the best alternative ne?
by lastmockingbird rate this post as useful

Perfume 2011/2/8 07:21
I think you've missed the main point here, lastmockingbird. People have basically been saying to wear whatever scent you want, just keep it to a minimum. Wearing a vanilla scent will get you no more stares and comments than wearing fruit flavored scent will.

The chances of random strangers approaching you and mentioning it are tiny, but try to be considerate of other people and make sure that random strangers can't actually smell it by not wearing too much.

If you do wear too much (of whatever scent) the places I would expect comments are schools and offices, if you are coming here to work or study. If you are coming to teach for example, complaints from students about the teacher's perfume are not unusual.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

Just so that you'd know 2011/2/8 13:04
My best friend used to wear vanilla at high school in Japan.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2011/2/8 22:01
thanks for the input guys!

I'll try to keep my perfume at a minimum :)
by lastmockingbird rate this post as useful

to lastmockingbird 2011/2/10 18:31
I would wear real vanilla behind my ear and many schoolboys would get very close to smell my neck. It was ok for them and it was a very mild scent. I did not wear perfume but if you like vanilla scent, then real vanilla will work and not be too strong.
by hirosumi (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2011/2/10 21:52
Hmmm...I won't really like "schoolboys" doing that to me though. Haha! Unless they are just cute little kids XD
by lastmockingbird rate this post as useful

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