Shiso parfum is said to be based on a Geisha powdered-perfume formula (also known as “body incense”), and it certainly smells that way, only far more intense and medicinal. Shiso parfum smells immediately of mysterious, dark tea houses, where the accentuated facial features of expressionless pale-faced Geisha. The many layers of silk kimonos that enrobe these geishas, wrapped up in obis restrictive etiquette, were stored in protective camphor chests and smell of such. While there certainly is shiso oil in this perfume (that unusual Japanese herb that looks like a cross between basil and patchouli leaf and is used to wrap meats and sashimi has a complex aroma that is both green-herbal, powdery and spicy – very similar to cumin). But it could have also been called kusu no ki (camphor in Japanese) with a similar effect.
Other apparent notes are camphor, which reminded me instantly of a little bottle my aunt gave me eons ago of "Eucalyptus oil" that smelled too good to be just that. In Shiso parfum the medicinal, cool temperament of camphor gains a heady, perfumy edge as it's escorted by nasal screw pine (kewda) and fresh sophistication of green peppercorns. Rose petals are not quite easily made out, but they are there and just as soft as a young woman's cheek, slightly dusted with rouge.
Agarwood and antique sandalwood are essential for this perfume's aunthenticity as there is no incense or any Japanese perfume without either one component. Spices such as dry-warm cassia and eugenolic cloves, also make an appearance but they are all blended to a powdery, woody, herbal and spicy-warm concoction that it’s difficult to smell any note in particular besides the shiso, camphor and agarwood that realy stand out. This is exactly how I would have imagined the perfume that would emanate from a Geisha’s kimono sleeves, white-washed skin and artfully-made-hair as she tiptoes by with frozen expression floating atop skyscraping Geta.
Top notes: Camphor, green pepper, kewda
Heart notes: Rose, shiso, antique cloves
Base notes: Agarwood, vintage patchouli, cassia bark, antique sandalwood