Thursday, July 20, 2017

Parfum Satori Hana Hiraku



I love "memory perfumes". Those perfumes that at first sniff revive a long buried and forgotten recollection and flash it as if on a technicolor screen in my head. That was what happened when I tried Parfum Satori's Hana Hiraku.  I sprayed and was transported to Galveston, Texas circa 1967. My Mom, Dad, older sister, and I were visiting an older couple I'd never met before, a distant aunt and uncle on my Mom's side of the family. Willie and Estelle were jolly and welcomed us into their modest but comfortable home. My sister and I spent the day hopping waves in the Gulf of Mexico, my first exposure to an ocean. That night we went to sleep in a room whose walls hugged the sides of the fluffy bed, a window unit chugging loudly and blasting the room with cool air. I slept the sleep of the exhausted and the next morning wandered to the kitchen to breakfast. Aunt Estelle had picked a honeydew from her garden that morning and she sliced into the warm round fruit just as I walked into the kitchen. The fruity smell slightly akin to a cucumber crossed with a cantaloupe permeated the early morning air in that tiny kitchen with it's yellow formica table and chairs and ancient Frigidaire. I had never seen the celedon skin of a honeydew before, only the creamy orange of a cantaloupe. New experiences everywhere!

At first spray of Hana Hiraku I smell the most succulent honeydew melon. It is fresh, green, juicy and not really sweet. It is hyper realistic. You will think there is a piece of fruit on your arm. Enjoy the moment because it doesn't last long.  If you are not a fan of melon in perfumes...I'm raising my hand here...then you will find that this moment does not foreshadow the perfume's fragrant story. Like me, you will probably enjoy this fun moment. The melon scent is like a soprano hitting a high note but she is quickly joined by the background chorus of bergamot and galbanum which give that sharpness and a slight fizzle common in chypre perfumes, because here's the thing, on me Hana Hiraku wears like a chypre. Maybe this is my interpretation alone. Parfums Satori calls Hana Hiraku a dry oriental and Fragrantica calls it an aquatic floral.  Granted, the chypre whispers which is unusual, but it is a refreshing change for that genre and makes this perfect for summer wear. This is a Japanese perfume, created by perfumer Satori Osawa for the Japanese market, so restraint is key here. All the notes are there but the volume has been dialed way down. Japanese perfumes have a common thread that make them identifiable but is hard for me to define in words. If you are familiar with Maria McElroy's work and her geisha perfumes for Aroma M or some of DSH Perfumes newer Japanese influenced perfumes then you'll know the style.

After the unusual opening the note of magnolia unfolds. Magnolia can veer different ways for me. Sometimes it's lemony, sometimes it's a non-skanky gardenia, and sometimes it can have an aquatic feel, a bit like the lotus note. The perfume's middle notes are magnolia, jasmine, iris butter, tuberose, rose, ylang ylang, and blue chamomile. This sounds very flowery but the overall effect is blurred and subdued florals. For me the most identifiable of these flowers are the magnolia and chamomile. The tuberose and gardenia don't stand out but other reviewers have experienced this differently. Hana Hiraku softly hums, still with that slightly fizzy warmth, and it retains a demure face as one would expect from a Japanese-bred perfume. I like this combination of dressiness and elegance dealt with a casual and light hand. Every so often a wisp of the melon comes through as if on the wind but it's just a grace note at this point.

The perfume's base notes are unusual: miso, soy sauce, sandalwood, cedarwood, and beeswax. This is where perfumer Satori Osawa creates what she has termed a "dry Oriental". Typical Oriental perfumes have big bold base notes which may include resins, patchouli, or incense. Satori has added scent notes of miso and sweet soy sauce to add an earthly element to the perfume while referencing the interplay of the major notes in Japanese dishes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami. These notes aren't very identifiable to me but I think they are one aspect that keeps the melon and floral notes tamed.

This perfume wears quietly as I've stated but I was surprised at it's tenacity. A couple of times after about five hours wear I thought it had disappeared, only to have it rise up again. I got about four wears before my sample was gone and my appreciation for Hana Hiraku increased each time. I really enjoyed this perfume and now would like to try others from the line.

Here in the USA Luckyscent carries a small number of fragrances from the brand. I want to thank Rhys Y from Singapore who gifted me with a sample when I was there. He told me he had visited Satori Osawa's atelier and that she had given him some samples to spread the word. What he modestly didn't tell me was that he had written about that visit here on his blog The Scent of Man.

Photo from Parfums Satori website.

2 comments :

Undina said...

I have never heard of this brand before, and from your description I wouldn't think it will be "my" perfume but I love perfumes with personal stories (of wearers) so if I ever come across this brand, I'll give it a try.
I must say that I feel respect to Luckyscent for finding these brands and bringing them to the U.S.

Cynthia said...

I was surprised, too, when I saw they carry four from the line. In Japan I think she has about 20 or so perfumes. I wonder if they just take the best sellers or if they try to decide which will work better in the Western market.