The Oriental category of perfumes has long been embellished by Western perfumers, constructing olfactory fantasies as seen from the outside. With Hana Hiraku, Satori Osawa deconstructs the Oriental, departing from what she calls the westernized?glossy note?? and, as a Japanese perfumer, creates a new category that she calls a?Dry Oriental, ” defined by a more matte quality. In Hana Hiraku (or?A Flower Blooms??), earthy, savory notes of miso and mitarashi, or sweet soy sauce, replace the animalic notes present in more Middle Eastern-style Oriental perfumes. The sensual, intoxicating quality of Oriental perfumery transforms into coolly understated je-ne-sais-quoi, like a romantic at arm’s length.
Hana Hiraku blooms first with a sweet, creamy musk melon, freshly cut with a salted knife. The honeydew is soft but prominent, and lifts up pale, watery magnolia flowers in all their green and aquatic glory. Quite distinctive is the addition of Japanese miso, which lends its uniquely briny, earthy umami quality to ground the floating magnolia. This union is actually not unusual in Japanese cuisine, where the large leaves of the magnolia tree are used as plates or for wrapping and baking miso or mochi rice cakes. This harmonious relationship reaches new heights with the sustained soft-focus cream of the melon, and achieves a sublime sensuality for the senses. This is no dripping or heavy scent, but rather it is perfume as seen through a frosted glass ? diffuse, tender, and delicately blurred.