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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Japanese Gem

By Marla

Shiseido Koto, a serene green floral chypre, was launched in 1967 in Japan. Top notes are soft aldehydes, citrus, and herbs. Heart notes are narcissus, gardenia, orris root, jasmine, lily of the valley, jonquil and rose. Base notes are oakmoss, patchouli, leather, amber, vetiver and castoreum.
I found a bottle of this subtle delight on the Big Bay for around $20. I love the Classic Zen (black bottle), by Shiseido, and Koto launched at about the same time. They are sister scents, beautifully retro. Where Zen Classic is somewhat stern, a “touch me not” little black dress of a scent, Koto is soft, like sunlight filtering through Japanese paper screens. There is no sweetness in Koto, but the white floral accord shines through the classic chypre structure. It reminds me a little of Guerlain’s Chamade, but, where Chamade’s color is a rich gold, Koto’s is a glowing ivory. Definitely the best perfume to wear while practicing ikebana, and listening to the koto, of course. I encourage anyone who loves green, retro, or chypre scents to try Koto.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I adore "Black" Zen and was astonished at it's retro beauty when I picked it up at a fragrance counter. I immediately bought it. If Koto is it's sister scent, then I am on another hunt. I heard conflicting stories as to "Black" Zen's demise, but thought I saw it on Shiseido's site recently. Wish it still came in the perfume . . . .

8:36 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, they still make the black Zen, mostly for the Asian market. I have vintage and a new bottle, and they are virtually identical. I believe the pure parfum is still sold, but only in Japan. Koto is mostly for the Asian market as well, but it's on Amazon (sometimes) and ebay quite frequently for reasonable prices. It's softer and more floral than black Zen, but I find I wear it more often during the day.

8:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Tammy said...

Oh, this sounds lovely, thanks!

1:59 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you try some, let me know what you think!

3:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Koto sounds gorgeous, and like it was made for me, but I have never seen it! I must try it one day.

12:03 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knowing a bit about your tastes in perfume, I think you would love it. New bottles from Japan are sold on the Bay all the time, and they can be found occasionally with online perfume seller, too. They're always below $50, which is SUCH a steal, in my opinion. If Koto was a new release from a European niche line, people would be going bonkers over it...and paying a whole lot more.

6:39 AM EDT  

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