Ahh… Kinmokusei!

Photo by Jorge Lázaro on Unsplash

That’s me smelling the kinmokusei in Japan.

I must say, it’s one of the things I most miss about living there…

Every fall, I would notice this sweet scent in the air as I walked to and from my train station along the Sumida River in Tokyo. Back in the pre-smartphone era (which for me, was probably up until a couple of years ago! 笑), it wasn’t easy to immediately Google what it was, and I had a heck of a time trying to find the tree that caused that aroma. 

People would see me walking from tree to bush to flower in the Sumida Park, sniffing left and right, and must’ve wondered what the heck was wrong with the blond-haired gaikokujin (foreigner). For a couple of years, I couldn’t pinpoint where the scent came from, but I knew that I liked it. It only lasted a week or so, and each year I appreciated it more and more. 

One time I was out walking with a friend in a downtown area of Tokyo, and I smelled it coming from somewhere, so I went on a wild goose chase with my friend in tow. When I thought I found a spot with the scent in the air, my friend recognized the smell and said it must be the kinmokusei. (Apparently, it is also know as the osmanthus frangrans.)

Aha! Now I had a name, and I learned that it looks more like a bush with little orange flowers on it. Since then, I have been hooked, and even have a small collection of kinmokusei-scented incense, courtesy of friends who know I enjoy it 🙂

I say that the kinmokusei is the shy twin of the cherry blossom tree. It blooms for a short period of time, but isn’t celebrated as much as the parties and TV announcements of the hanami (flower-viewing) season.

In a sense, my search for the scent made me walk slower and enjoy nature more, instead of zooming on my way to my next appointment. The kinmokusei made me slow down and enjoy the moment 🙂

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in Japan? Please let me know in the comments; I’d love to hear!

Photo by Jorge Lázaro on unsplash.com

2 thoughts on “Ahh… Kinmokusei!”

  1. I miss the clean air, the public transportation, the freedom of being able to go to Kyoto or Tokyo for the day if I wanted. The food, and the convenience stores. But I think most of all- I miss the people. While I was the weird gaikokujin, many Nihonjin were so patient with me when I tried to speak Japanese.

  2. Ikigai Connections

    Thank you for reading my blog post, and for commenting! YES YES YES to all of these! I found that if we showed interest in the language or culture, the people became even MORE welcoming ❤︎ I’m so glad that you had a good time 🙂

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