Japan and Scent

Since ancient times, Japanese people have expressed their thoughts and feelings about seasons through scents.

Japan’s scent culture is said to have begun in 595 when a piece of driftwood washed ashore—the nation’s first encounter with fragrant wood. Then, during the Heian Period (794-1185), Japan’s unique fragrance blend in the form of incense was born.

Japanese scents have evolved with the seasons and are a part of life in Japan.

Summer Scent | History

Lotus Flower KAYO

KAYO, the first fragrance created 1000 years ago in Japan to capture the essence of summer.

KAYO is a seasonal term for summer.  It is an early summer fragrance inspired by the lotus flowers that begin to bloom in this season.

The incense, which was shaped using honey and enjoyed at room temperature, was called “kneaded incense” in those days, and was made with only six ingredients.

Today, 1000 years later, we have inherited the sensibility of the people of that time with the same passion.

Lotus Flowers

Summer in Japan

Summer in Japan comes after the dreary rainy season. Temperatures and humidity become high, and the sun shines brightly.

Although the days can be unpleasant and difficult to endure, people enjoy this exciting season using their creativity to cool off and get away from the heat.

Summer Scent | Tradition


Matsuri is a festival that embodies the Japanese people’s celebration of life. 

In the summer, people prayed for reprieve from epidemics, evil spirits and curses by the Gods. These are now established as local events to pray for harvest, health and happiness.

Summer festivals become crowded when the sun goes down and the weather begins to cool down. Surrounded by the mouth watering smells of the food stalls, people can be seen wearing yukatas (summer kimono), and enjoying ramune (Japanese soda). With the sound of taiko drums in the background, people struggle with the seemingly easy but difficult task of scooping goldfish.

The summer festival ends with colorful and beautiful fireworks.

Summer Scent | Custom


“ASAGAO” Morning glory, the flower that blooms in the morning.

This flower came to Japan in the Nara period (710-794) and became popular during the Edo period (1603-1867) because of its beauty.  Despite not having any distinct smell, the morning glory became the symbol of summer.  

Now, first graders record its growth during summer vacation, reminding us that summer is in full swing.

RYO / cooling off

People in Japan created original solutions to cool off from the summer heat by using our senses.

The exhilarating smells found in the sound of wind chimes swaying in the wind and the rustling of bamboo leaves touching each other is cool to the ear. The lush moss spreading under the bamboo grove is refreshing to the eyes.

Returning to the traditional way of cooling off in close contact with nature is being re-evaluated.

Summer Scent | Nature

Summer Retreat in Forest

The desire to escape from the heat to a cooler place is universal.  In Japan, people take advantage of the high altitude plateaus to cool off by visiting forests which can provide a respite from the surrounding heat.

Summer Scent | Wisdom for Living

Feel the Cool: Olfactory

Mint theme
Inhale the refreshing scent of mint through the nose.

Sea Breeze
A coolness can be felt with the scent of the sea breeze.

Summer Scent | Wisdom for Living

Feel the Cool: Sound and Sight

Imagine the sound of the wind chimes through scent.

Picture the lush moss spreading under the bamboo grove through scent.

Summer Scent | Innovation

Summer Bugs

“KATORI SENKO” Mosquito coils are a practical summer products which were developed in Japan to repel mosquitoes, especially in the summer months.

By combining pyrethrum and Japanese incense stick technology that arrived from the U.S. in the late 1800s, this innovative product is now used all over the world.

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See the JAPANESE LIFE through SCENT | SUMMER Display at JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles