May 10, 2007
What’s the Funny Smell?

Yesterday, Tracey asked me if I thought the air smelled like wet dog. I didn’t smell anything doggy and attributed her odd sense of smell to a headcold. But on Tuesday I thought the air was fresh and salty like the seaside.

At dinner last night, Jim asked if we thought the city smelled like old shoes. Tod agreed that it smelled weird; he described it as “cut grass that’s been sitting around.” Yuka suggested the scent reminded her of sperm. I sniffed long and hard but couldn’t smell anything over our newly planted lavender and mint.

Everyone seemed to feel unusually sleepy, too.

OK, something was definitely going on with the air.

Yuka says it’s from a tree, but she couldn’t remember the name. There are a lot of them near the Chinese Embassy, she says, and they smell bad when they are flowering. I wonder what tree it is…anyone know?

Posted by kuri at May 10, 2007 07:57 AM


I’m pretty sure it is the gingko trees that smell.

Posted by: sara on May 10, 2007 09:32 AM

Apparantly it was reported on the news last night that it is smog. Mika thought I was suffering from a head cold too as she couldn’t smell it but she was amazed when she saw the news report. She excitedly told me this morning about it.

So how come that some of us could tell there was “something in the air” and some of us couldn’t?

Posted by: T on May 11, 2007 02:55 PM

The fruit of female gingko trees is supposed to smell horrible. Are the gingko trees fruiting? I haven’t smelled it myself but one site said it smelled like rancid butter or vomit.

Posted by: M Sinclair Stevens on May 19, 2007 11:45 AM

If I am smelling the same thing here in Ibaraki, it is chestnut… or kuri. I used to smell the same thing bach in Ohio where my family is from.

Posted by: Scott on May 21, 2007 02:53 PM

Many trees have a scent, and it differs depending on the season, wind and number of the trees found in the immediate area. I notice the unwanted scent in the evening. The trees are, and I am guessing but it is normal for one to find Ginko trees in the area. I know the one across the street from my apartment is about six floors high and it has a scent one remembers for a long time. The outer area of the nut is the scent maker. I believe the tree which has the scent is the female tree. Frankly, to have nature in Tokyo in any way ought to be welcomed. I am certain the idea the scent comes from near the Chinese Embassy will not be taken as a slight towards the people or nation. Although one wonders why many things negative are blamed on the Chinese. Yuka was using a marker for the area, easy to take out of context. There must be another embassy in the area? Much like when a Japanese person says “you look tired”……meaning you are working hard. We in the west take it as an insult, a personal comment from someone who is simply a co-worker and not something one says to a fellow co-worker. We leave the room thinking WTF?


Posted by: Steve on June 18, 2007 07:07 AM
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