Scents of Adventure
After a recent trip to the U.S., a taxi dropped us off
at our home in Japan.
With my first sniff, I picked up a slight fishiness from
It's said that travel awakens the senses. If that's true, then moving to Asia might have brought my sense of smell back from the dead.
I say this, because I don't have many odor memories from
Sure, I remember the smell of Mom's cooking, but that's not a public odor.
Most U.S. cities donít have open-air markets, fragrant seasonal flowers, or cigarette-drenched hoards of people milling about.
In fact, the smell of America might be characterized by the absence of smell.
Wide-open spaces, dry air, and a general belief that strong odors are a form of pollution, keep dramatic aromas to a minimum.
At one point during my trip to the States, I realized
that I had gone three days without smelling anything that I wasn't
supposed to smell.
Maybe this is because it's my nose that truly speaks to
my heart about the adventures I've been on.
Odors are a different story.
In Singapore, for example, the smell of Frangipani,
pepper crab, or the dreaded durian (an odor quite accurately described as,
'eating your favorite ice cream while sitting on a toilet') always stopped
me in my tracks.
In Vietnam, open sewers, markets, and street food mix up
a potent jungle stew, where the wet smell of unending life and death
literally surrounds you.
Itís to my great sadness, then, that aromas (save for
cigarettes and beer) are disappearing in Japan. Only the food vendors -
ramen booths, steamed yam sellers, and others - are able to catch my
Until then, Iíll take comfort in the knowledge that, when I want to find a place exotic and unknown, I can follow my nose - and my scents of adventure.