Miyako, a limited edition perfume, was much harder to find. A couple of months later though, I am happy to say I finally own a bottle. From the wonderful fragrance itself, to the beautiful sliding-doors box that houses it, my latest purchase has already given me much joy already. The very first time I wore it, a friend commented, “Mmm, what is this? Is it something Asian?” The remark obviously made me chuckle, for indeed, even if it wasn’t exactly a description of “...the fragrant air of the court of the Golden Pavilion, mythical temple in the Land of the Rising Sun...” (quote, Miyako box), Miyako had nevertheless managed to be instantaneously recognizable as a fragrance inspired by the Far East.
The sweetness of Miyako is rather curious, reminding me of the subtly sweet and oh-so-comforting warm air one finds in a house, after a full day of baking spiced goods made of lovingly kneaded dough. Its opening briefly tickles my nose with an ephemeral pepperiness that quickly subsides, giving way to the pungency of a prominent cardamom rubbed on cinnamon bark. There is something about the early stages of Miyako that I find intensely familiar, yet putting my finger on the fleeting memory that it rouses proved quite difficult – perhaps because I expected all my associations with the fragrance to be of an Oriental nature. Finally, it came to me, a couple of days ago: it is the mingling of frankincense and myrrh, combined with the smell of polished, waxed wood one encounters when finding refuge in the cool, lonely interior of a Greek Orthodox church during summertime. The smell of pine I get at this stage, also conspires to bring this memory forward, since it is not unusual for a church to be surrounded by pine (or other coniferous trees), and the resinous, fresh smell wafts generously inside through the open windows. I was perplexed to smell pine in Miyako – not only is it not listed as a note, but it seemed to me incongruous with a fragrance meant to allude to Japanese temples and Kodo, the Japanese incense ceremony. But after researching Kodo a bit further, I found that pine incense is indeed commonly used for the ceremony, so my nose must not have been playing tricks on me after all. While on the subject of listed notes, I must admit that despite the fact that several floral notes are listed as part of the composition, they remain virtually undetected by my nose. Rose is a possible exception: it suddenly blooms when the scent warms well on the skin. Even so, I doubt I would have identified it had I not been looking for it. But I do not lament the lack of a prominent floral bouquet, quite the contrary. Instead, I much prefer what I do find in the blend: there is the refined, dry, coniferous smell of cedar, the patchouli, which in this instance manages to be sparkling, the voluptuous, powdery sandalwood. And all of this is gently enveloped in the golden embrace of musk and amber, whose warmth and sense of comfort I cannot possibly begin to describe. This positively glowing coziness, my perception of a certain milky accord (which I love) and the somewhat powdery drydown, make me identify Miyako as one of most tender, restorative and comforting fragrances I own. I know it can be quite annoying to read a review of something that is hard to find and sniff for yourself, and since this limited edition fragrance is a little difficult to find (unless you wish to order a full bottle off ebay, of course), I wish to share some with you. If you post a comment on this review, I will automatically enter you in a drawing for a sample of Miyako, unless you explicitly state that you do not want to be entered, but just wished to comment. I will announce the winner on Monday evening.
Senso Temple: incense burner. [Photograph]. Retrieved July 18, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/ebc/art-642
Kodo Set: www.japan-zone.com