My last stop in Japan was in Okayama Prefecture.
I must say, my stay there was perhaps my favourite part of the trip. I met Noriko Kondo, the founder of Hinoki Lab company in Nice, France, back in June at the World Perfumery Congress I attended as a perfumery student. She was promoting Hinoki essential oils she produces in Shinjo, a small village in Okayama Prefecture.
Hinoki is a slow-growing tree from the cypress family that can only be found in Japan, China and Taiwan. The three sustainable and fairtrade essential oils Noriko promoted — Hinoki Wood, Hinoki Leaf and Hinoki Leaf & Branch — transported me immediately and sparkled my imagination. I had never smelt something like that before!
While Hinoki Wood exudes mainly woody, camphoric and a kind of mystic notes, Hinoki Leaf offers also interesting fruity and citrusy facets. Hinoki Leaf & Branch would be a sort of unique variation of Hinoki Wood and Hinoki Leaf blended together.
Back in June, I mentioned to Noriko my upcoming trip to Japan and she naturally invited me to visit her. We then met again in Okayama and travelled together to Shinjo village where her distillery is located.
I loved the place at first sight. It was surrounded by a beautiful and well managed forest. But perhaps what left the most impression on me were the people I met*.
It was so interesting to share experiences with Noriko and her husband. They detailed the social and environmental values behind Hinoki Lab which I embraced immediately. It is not only about selling one more high quality product to the world. They offer also ethics, a philosophy and an inspiring family business story that anyone would wish to be part of.
It was great to see extensively the place and meet the persons behind these amazing essential oils. I feel I have now a certain additional responsibility to use them with care and respect. I cannot wait to work on a perfume that would evoke the memorable moments I spent in Shinjo village.
*I would like to particularly mention Shinro Kuroda as well as Tacaquito Usui, Miyuki Yamamoto and their lovely son.