Perfume Story: August 2009 Archives

August 2009 Archives

photo_090818_02.JPGIn an elegant and quiet area in Paris, neighboring the Boulogne forest, I press the intercom of an apartment. The door is opened with her voice and a click. There is a large mirror in the entrance hall, a large picture on the wall of the staircase leading me to the third floor, then a portrait of a beauty in a formal dress welcoming me as I stepped in the front door. "She is my husband's grandmother," says my host. The host who wears blue, half-sleeved shirt and slacks invites me into the living room with an easy and limber motion. In her salon-like living room, there are a table, two sets of upholstered sofas as well as nine chairs. It is a large house with many more rooms in the back. She is 65 years old.
In 1984, she visited Japan for a month to study flower-plants. She joined a French-Japanese social organization, "SUZUKAKE NO KAI" in 1989, and in 2000, she spent two months traveling from Rebun and Rishiri Islands in Hokkaido to Yonakuni Island, the tip of Okinawa islands. She is such an enthusiast of Japan that she even studied Shodo, Japanese calligraphy, and participated in Shodo exhibitions. Smiling, she adds "And I don't drink coffee. I drink Japanese Genmai tea or green tea". Her philosophy of life is "to live cozily". That is why she loves Japanese flowers and brings them into her everyday life. She feels that Japanese flowers have the characteristics of the delicate sense of the Japanese and display it well.
photo_090818_03.JPGIn the morning she gets up and spends 30 minutes doing Kiwado stretching exercise, designed to harmonize the inner-spirit. You stretch your body with movements opposite to the normal direction. After that, she tones her skin with spray-water and moisturizing cream. That is her first make-up. When she pops out or goes to a restaurant, she would put on her second make-up applying some foundation, eye-shadow and lipstick. In addition, she put her third make-up if she goes out for a party. She'd define her eyes, do her hair and put on some perfume. She loves Japanese perfume and has been using it for 20 years.
On the days when she has no plans to go out anywhere, she goes up to her roof-top garden through a dedicated spiral staircase from her living room. It is a world of sunshine, green, bird's song and their wafts. There are pines, bamboos, plum and cherry trees, as well as Japanese gingers, Japanese peppers, citrons, Japanese herbal trifoliates, perillas, kumquats, tomatoes, or carrots etc, and some flowers. At first it may appear to be cluttered, but there is a superb harmony among them. They swing in the breeze, whisper into your ears, and sooth your feelings as you contemplate them. This frees you from worldly thoughts and leaves you with only a calm mind. It really is a nice feeling.
She always believes that such a nice feeling is generated from inside, in the process of getting up in the morning, having her breakfast, doing Kiwado and especially looking at herself in the mirror. At the start of the day, she checks her condition by looking at her skin.
Yesterday was a good one. She worked in the garden from one in the afternoon till eight at night. Even during the evening thunderstorm, she continued in her raincoat. And she is not tired. She thinks it was because she checked that she was well in the mirror when she put on her first make-up. She believes her morning make-up time is the most important moment that brings you those pleasant feelings.
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photo_090818_01.JPGThere is a spectacular design which has been promoting Japanese culture over a half century and is now highly appreciated even in foreign countries.
This is the 'desktop bottle' of the 'soy sauce', which has always been placed on the table and has been supporting the boom of Japanese food nowadays.
In this form, it shows the elegant image of female, maintaining the functions made from the 'theory of pouring', which has not changed in these 47 years. A group of 'Young designer' and 'Young soy sauce store men' had already produced 100 designs of it. In the previous half century, the total amount of production and shipment has already become over 300 millions, which is still amazing to many people.
Nowadays, due to the globalization of Japanese food, for 'Japanese restaurant' in foreign countries, such 'desktop bottle' and 'soy sauce pot' now carry the common scene.
The "color" of soy sauce - red purple -; soy sauce is sometimes called in another name "Purple" (so called in Japan, "MURASAKI") for its color.
The 'taste' standardized by JAS & JIS and the 'noble smell' containing around 300 flavors including rose flavor; these 3 elements are the origin of nostalgia of Japanese people and it may have somehow slotted into our DNA already.
When talking about the root of soy sauce, there were some common 'sauces' used in Asia, which reached Japan during the age of Jomon period. 'Grain sauce' was processed by maturing salted grains through the Yamato Imperial Court period. In the Kamakura period, processing of "Miso", fermented soybean paste, originating Kinzanji Temple led to the 'tamari', a slightly thicker soy sauce by amending the taste of the sauce, which finally created the prototype of soy sauce nowadays.
Since the soy sauce was in mass production starting from the period, 'cedar barrel' was introduced to replace the traditional 'pots' and 'jugs' because of higher workability of its material and more stable production of soy sauce. The introduction of 'sake bottle' benefited many people, and even the common mass was greatly benefited by that.
As the soy sauce is produced by the fermentation process using wheat, lactobacillus and yeast, its quality is prone to be changed. So the container has been playing a very important role from ancient times.
Taking the same period in Edo period as an example, the container, which was pottery used for exporting soy sauce by the corporation of Dutch people from East Indian Company and the Japanese middleman, was called in Portuguese as 'Compra Jar'. ('Compra' means middlemen in Portuguese.)
At that time, in order to prevent the deterioration of soy sauce's quality, the Dutch people did something very peculiar in that they boiled the soy sauce and then plugged the bottle which was sealed by tar. After those processes, the soy sauce was carried to the European countries.
Nowadays, during the color test on the soy sauce by major soy sauce manufacturers, the color of soy sauce in porcelain and pottery like 'Compra Jar' changes in a month. What is more, since soy sauce in the resin container can only last for one and a half year, it obviously can't be compared with the glass, which can last 2 years.
The glass container, which is formed from glass melted around at 1450 degrees centigrade, was made to be so fine that it was able to suppress the activity of oxygen inside it. The glass container made today mainly focuses on the side of its stability in physical properties, together with its advantages such as 'transparency', 'shininess' and 'texture' etc it already have.
As the time goes on, the automatic bottle-forming machine was introduced in the Taisho period. After that, the production of glass container became large-scale and the 1-litre bottle was introduced in 1950s. It brought the 'sake bottle' period to an end and lead the start of 'desktop bottle' period. On the other hand, during the progress of automation, a crafting method, called semi-automatic was inherited and it is still used presently.
"Soy sauce pot" is still produced in a small scale in the suburban areas of Tokyo such as Edogawa-Ku and Sumida-Ku even now, by those professional craftsmen who possess the same skills from Venezia. The 'glass ball', which is gathered around the rod from the crucible, is roughly formed to the shape by rotating the rod, then is pressed in the mold to the final shape, which best describes the traditional skills.
From 'natural wood' to 'pottery', and then to 'glass container', the soy sauce container was changing time by time. Nevertheless, the role of glass to maintain standards of 'color', 'taste' and 'smell' is still alive even here.
Due to the property not being affected, glass container for cosmetics manufactured by us will increasingly play a new role to maintain the freshness of the cosmetics inside.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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