Lisa Fong: Perfume in a Poem
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz: Perfume in a Poem

Yosh Han: Perfume in a Poem

YoshIn a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
- Ezra Pound -

I'm walking through Grand Central NY, I hear lots of voices speaking in many languages. I have a moment of  déjà vu, and feel that I am in Amsterdam. Then as I walk by the flower kiosk, it reminds me of walking through the forest in southern Holland near Belgium.

The trees are enormous. It is crisp out and my hands and ears are freezing but I continue to walk. The birds are singing to me and I take a moment to enjoy the morning light. I can hear their feet shuffling the dead leaves. I see tiny heads of ivory and butter crocuses sprouting through the debris.

I stop.

And breathe in the aura of the morning. It is mostly winter conifers. When I look, I see that the forest is teeming with new beginnings. I see my breath fog and as I quiet myself, I inhale the earth, the deep smell of wet forest. It takes me a moment to notice the harbinger of spring in the
air; do I imagine the narcissus, bearded irises, and the crabapples? I want to take a picture, but I don't have a camera. So I make a memory of this moment.

I am at my mixing table with oak moss, silver fir. Honey, narcissus, linden blossom and violet. I want to add a tiny bit of mushroom and cedarwood. I re-create the flower shadows that linger in my mind.

A tall man rushing to catch the train bumps me, sliding me into the tornado of commuters. I reach into my pocket and find my bottle of Apparition. I enjoy the unfurling of delicate petals.

Editor's Note:

My introduction to the art of Yosh Han's perfume came about three years ago while I was searching for a scent that would be reminiscent of stargazer lilies - my favorite flowers at the time.  Google brought me to Lucky Scent, which recommended Yosh's Stargazer 7.71, described there as "not sweet or heady,  Stargazer is clean,  soothing and austerely beautiful... a straight-up lily with a sharp infusion of ginger."  I was sold on the idea, but just to be safe, I ordered the Yosh Sweet Suite of six precious handmade oil-based perfume samples.  When it arrived, I went through all six vials methodically and though I enjoyed Stargazer as I knew I would, it was her darker, more dramatic sister Omniscent 0.96 who captured my heart.

I will be the first to say that I do not consider myself a perfume critic or reviewer: my nose is still not educated enough to pick out all the marvelous notes that make up a fragrance, but Omniscent took hold of my imagination and refused to be ignored.  It was as though I had arranged to meet Stargazer for a rendezvous and Omniscent kidnapped me on the street in front of the hotel.  Its official notes include: gardenia, Egyptian tuberose, fig, lilac, violet, kush, Tunisian opium, vanilla, sandalwood, basil, clove, geranium, pink grapefruit, and pink pepper.  On me, this scent is a marvelous blend of creamy and spicy elements, never veering too far in any direction.  And because it is an oil-based scent, it lasts a very long time and simply radiates warmth and sensuality. 

Yosh_han Besides the fact that I adore Omniscent, one of the reasons I approached Yosh (whose first name means "fragrant" in Chinese) for this project is her intriguing philosophy of "trans-aromation" to describe the transformative qualities of fragrance, through which one can "discover a new sense of self" by adding to one's own aromascape, or inner landscape of scent.  On her beautifully designed and very interesting website, Yosh explains this concept and answers a range of questions such as what inspires her, why her fragrance names contain numbers, which fragrance is her favorite, and how she became a perfumer.

I also deeply admire the work she does in creating perfumes based on the communicative arts.  She collaborated with author JT Leroy in developing a custom perfume for the book and film The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.  She has also worked with author William T. Vollman on a scent called Carnage, which was "inspired by his seven-volume treatise on violence." (  And her range is certainly not limited to literary collaborations: among many other collaborative projects, she has recently teamed up with San-Francisco confectioner Temper Chocolates to create a line of exclusive perfumes centered on luscious olfactory interpretations of the cocoa note.    

Another favorite from the Sweet Suite turned out to be U4EAHH! 2.43, which is rightly described blissful.  Combining the pure, clean notes of pear, aloe vera, and cucumber with vibrant pomegranate and elegant waterlily, Yosh offers U4EAHH! as an experience of simple olfactory joy.  Our extraordinary giveaway on March 31 will include a sample of Yosh's U4EAHH! straight from Lucky Scent, just in time for the jubilation of spring. 

For those planning to attend the Sniffapalooza Spring Fling events in New York City this April, Yosh will be an honored guest at Takashimaya on Saturday, April 12, which is where I hope to meet her in person for the first time.  Additional upcoming events and more information about both the perfumer and her art are listed on YOSH olfactory sense. Metro Perfume Giveaway


Photos of Yosh were provided by the perfumer and are used with her permission.

Comments are encouraged!  Please read the initial post in this series for the details on our extraordinary giveaway which will take place on March 31.

Posts prior to 2015 first appeared on my previous website, memory & desire (


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A TasteTV video of perfumer Yosh Han can be seen here:
Yosh Han

Enjoy, it's about chocolate perfume.


i admire yosh's creations and i want this perfume! it seems so much more ethereal and still organic than others that focus on a more metropolitan aspect of the poem.


I am especially drawn to the way Yosh conveys her perfume concept through story telling. There is an element here of magical realism which I find quite engaging. The journey aspect is really appropriate to how our mind wonders when we experience scent. As well as how we use fragrance to take us back to a stored memory.

Lisa A

I love this interpretation, the apparitions by fragranced by re-creating "the flower shadows". The mushroom adds an unexpected note that encompasses the shadowy feel. It sounds lovely.


I really enjoyed Yosh's contribution to this project. Her words pulled me into her very physical, 5 senses interpretation of the written poem. I would be excited to semll this scent; the cold, the earth, the coming of spring. I adore Yosh's Stargazer 7.71 in its minimalist bottle and I have a small sample of LaContessa that I wear when I want to be skin close sexy.


I didn't read these in order of appearance, and again I'm struck by the fascinating differences each person brought to their creation. I'm not sure I followed all Yosh Han's intuitive thoughts, but the notes of the resulting fragrance are brilliant -- something about mushroom seems like a perfect additional note.


I've been kidnapped by Omniscient, too.

Don't know if I like the "apparition" to be the tall man intruding on Yosh's reverie. It's interesting, anyway.

Catalina Castells

Honey and mushroom? Heaven! I want to smell this!


This sounds beautiful! I love the imagery of winter and new beginnings, the pause with the smell of earth and flowers. Then back to the routine of life. This sounds much like the pause that the poem speaks of, a moment out of time.

What lovely smells!

Ruth Ruane

This one really captivated me. It was as if the perfumer began to elaborate on the poem like a seamstress adding a beautiful train to a simple wedding dress. Then she striped it right back at the end to the bare flesh. I enjoyed reading this. The perfume sounds alive in the past, present and future.


Apparition sounds lovely. How Ms. Han uses that portrait of deja vu to continue the dark/light theme makes me FEEL as though I am invited along for this walk. Her words at the end "tornado of commuters" and the need for 'Apparition' ~playing with her bottle~caught me off guard. I thought I was the only one that did this, :)


Yosh is a very creative perfumer. She seems to be a very nice and simple person. Loved her poem, the way she described with so much art!



This blend sounds lovely. I really like the addition of mushroom; it brings up the image of the underground space of the Metro.

Robert Upton

Now this one has got me thinking. There is no complete perfume blend mentioned, yet perfume exhales from every word. I find myself immersed in this one.

Darlene Johnson

Yosh, what a beautiful experience and memory to pull from. Your description of the forest in southern Holland, the chill in the air! transported me and even though I have never been to Holland,for a moment I felt Like I was there! Thank you Yosh.I just wanted to add that all artists with a true love for their Art should always be respected.


Just a note for the record: Yosh is not a natural perfumer. A natural perfumer does not use synthetic perfume oils, as she does. That aside, her contribution to this series is very thoughtful and dynamic an gives insight into her creative process.


Such a beautiful story, I can almost imagine it happening as Yosh describes it. And love the way she reasons about every note - a certain logiс to a perfume always makes it more meaningful. Thank you for the inspiration:)


What a wonderful project this is! While I know and admire the work of some of the participants (Andy Tauer, for example), others are just names I've heard. Your introductions (I suppose they are really afterwords) add so much to these posts. As interesting as Yosh's Pound fragrance sounds, what really intrigues me is her collaboration with Vollman, about which I was entirely unaware. Thanks, again for a wonderful series!


This sounds perfect to me! Thank you Yosh--and Heather for doing this!

Gail S

Even the creative process sounds like poetry on this one! I've been unsuccessful thus far finding one of her scents that worked on my skin but the idea of this sounds wonderful. Oakmoss, fir and mushrooms? Love it!

Darlene Johnson

I loved all of the unique interpretations so far and it is wide open for that! If I were to interpret I feel Pound had to pull from within the image that had so profoundly touched him because these faces are now just an apparition.
The petals being an innocent beauty in the faces he saw in the crowd.
Wet could be a youthful dew and black bough seems to be shadowy and mysterious like an old soul lying quiet and dormant. Did this image at that moment in time touch him to the core! Suddenly awakening the young man of his youth?
It is interesting to think that a perfume could be in a poem, I couldn't tell you what would go into my perfume? that can only come from experience... the experience these chosen beautiful perfumers have! I think they would know what was shadowy? mysterious? but I guess that can also be up for so many different interpretations just as a Perfume inside a Poem!


you will love meeting Ms Han - she is as kind and interesting as she seems. i will enjoy talking to her about this project, as she always has gorgeous ideas. :)


What I enjoy most,is how intimate and unique each person's vision and impressions are.

This aspect, in and of itself, is a window into the inner life of the artists, a very private privilege.

Ms. Han alludes to experiences which I share [further fuel for my insistence on the lack of coincidence in my life], which intrigues me...

I appreciate the efforts that go into this project.


aboulkhell: As the coordinator of this project, I welcome your thoughts on the posts and on the poem, but I believe you have misinterpreted the project as a whole. The perfumers were encouraged to take the project in any direction their imagination would go: there is no "correct" interpretation neither is there the possibility of failure. Indeed, these perfumers contributed not in a spirit of competition for the "right answer" but in order to show us the breadth and depth of spirit which can lead one to create infinitely varied forms of art inspired by one infinite moment contained in one tiny and ambiguous poem.

Further, one artist's interpretation of another artist's poem has absolutely nothing to do with the intentions of the poet. The poet is irrelevant; the poem lives on its own.

Please remember to remain respectful and to view these posts in the generous, open spirit with which they were given to us.


Frankly , i think that though she does seem to be making an effort to be creative i find Yosh's work really very far from what Ezra wanted or even remotly related to what he said!
I am deceived.It is a failed concept, no disrespect implied, but fame as a natural perfumer should not prevent us from criticizing.
I think Miss Han was off target.sincerely

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