It’s funny how smell has the power to capture memories like nothing else. Every summer we burn Japanese mosquito coils (called katori senko or “mosquito-killing incense”), and the pleasant fragrance of the burning coils never fails to bring back memories of summers gone by. The same is true of the space heaters used in most Japanese homes in the winter — that first whiff of the kerosene fumes always transports me back in time. I’m here in the U.S. for a couple weeks, and keep encountering unique smells that aren’t present in Japan, like the strong smell of Tide laundry detergent or Bounce dryer sheets that Mom used to use, or the lemon scent of those terribly inadequate “moist towelettes” you get to wipe your hands in barbecue restaurants. (They should follow the Japanese model and give customers hot steaming towels instead.) The product that seems to capture the smell of America more than any other for my family is Mr. Bubble bubble bath, and I’ll be bringing several bottles home with me when I head back to Japan.
Mr. Bubble captures the smell of America to me.