*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

"Ooh, that smell. Can't you smell that smell? The smell of death all around you."

I am not going to compare the virulence of the smell of one people against another: people do not smell the same the world round, but smell they do.  In Toronto, the smell of a crowded transit vehicle is a sebaceous pong; in Japan, a fecal fug.  Someone else can do legitimate science to determine if the differences have roots in DNA (possible), diet (likely) or BMI (probable).  I should not leave out gender or age.  Most Japanese women are olofactorily insignificant.  As my conscience does not allow me to ride in the ladies carriage, I am stuck among the men in the others: three-quarters of the riders are men between forty and soon-to-retire, wearing suits which would not be dry-cleaned every day.  Though I am sure most of those 'salarymen' would imagine I smell worse than them*, I doubt it as I bathe both evening and morning, and do not survive solely on a diet of alcohol, grease and despair.

My strong smell-memory should motivate me onto my bike.

*Why else cringe from taking the seat beside me?


  1. I'm just here to give thanks for reminding me of a great Lynyrd Skynyrd tune

    **looks for ipod**

  2. "and do not survive solely on a diet of alcohol, grease and despair" = awesomeness.

    I really noticed the smell, if you could call it that, when I returned to Australia. Not a human smell but just people being so heavy handed with the perfume/deodorant/after shave. Still gross.

    1. Yep, I appreciate your compliments on my turns of phrase, but I think this conclusively disproves that you can't come up with anything better. This is beautiful.

      I once had one of those massively annoying 'We Japanese' conversations when I mentioned I'd slipped in the shower one morning.

      In the morning? Apparently all (yes, all) Japanese people have baths at night because it's relaxing and keeps the bed-sheets cleaner. My pleas that they'll get dirty anyway because it's summer and you're going to spend the next seven hour sweating - then go to work caked in that sweat - were dismissed as usual as crazy foreign logic.

    2. Thank you.

      It is bad for my skin, water and electricity bills, to take two showers a day; but it is good for my marriage to take the evening one, and for my own comfort the morning one. I hate to agree with the Japanese, but the evening ablutions do wash off the filth of work and strangers, as well as one's own. I agree with you that a night of sweating needs a rinse to follow. When I exercise in the middle of a day the number of washings gets stupid. Laundry the same.

      Yet when I go hiking for a week, with no chance to wash above wrists or below the neck, my skin is never more youthful. I would not say the same for my smell.

  3. I believe dehydration has something to do with the oyaji smell. A typical oyaji has a diet high in coffee and beer (for fluids). Both can contribute to dehydration, making their breath smell like dead body fermenting in a suitcase.

    By the way, I love natto.

  4. I'm so glad I can ride a bike to work, dealing with the smell of teenager (arguably equally bad the world over) all day is bad ebough without the joys of a crammed train. Sir, you have my respect!

  5. In the summer, when nights are warm enough to sweat despite the thinnest of sheets, a cold morning shower is plenty warm. A little of the oyaji-smell is definitely better than that of indigestion and halitosis at close-range.


  6. I assume diet plays a role too. I have hosted exchange students from all over the world and some have a different smell than what I am used to while others do not. Usually a few days of eating what I eat and they probably smell like I do. And to me I smell like nothing, I wonder what they thought I smelled like when they first arrived?