How many times have you ridden the train or subway in Tokyo and had some big, smelly, old guy cram themselves in beside you in those tiny little things they call seats? During the morning rush it's impossible to have your own space on the train. Someone is always stepping on your foot, sticking their bag in your groin, rubbing against your ass, and if that wasn't bad enough, one of them is usually a stinker. It's only here in Japan that I've heard the term 'old man smell', and due to the lack of personal space in Japan I can attest to it's truth. Can anything be done? For the non-stinkers, your best bet is to invest in a pair of nose plugs. But for the odor-creating percentage of the population, allow me to introduce to you a new kind of chewing gum called 'Otoko Kaoru'.
'Otoko Kaoru' translates to 'Man Smell', which probably won't win any awards for best product name, but does correctly point out one truth, that women usually have much less trouble in the smelliness department. It comes in one exciting flavour: rose, which actually tastes better than it sounds, and costs 150 yen for one package, not a bad deal. The gum was created with one purpose in mind, helping old men to smell better.
Ok so except for your breath, how is a gum supposed to combat body odor? Well as I understand it, the rose essence in the gum gets absorbed by your body and then released through your pores, kind of like garlic does when you eat it. Why rose flavour then and not say, peppermint, or lemon, or Old Spice? Well besides the fact that Old Spice flavoured gum would probably suck, it seems that some property of rose makes it very easy to be absorbed and pumped out of your skin. Perhaps in time we'll be able to chew gum that let's us smell like apple pie, but until then, you'll have to be content smelling flowery.
So the next obvious question is, does it work? What better time to test it out than before a date? I decided to eat two pieces to make sure of some effect, if any, and went to meet Kumi. About an hour later, I asked her surreptitiously if she noticed I smelled differently today. She leaned in closer and confirmed that she could smell some soapy scent. When I asked her what flavour, she pondered a second then replied: 'apple'. So much for science....
It would appear that some more reseach is in order. Perhaps it is only supposed to be used by smelly old men after all? Maybe I didn't eat enough of it!? In order to be sure, while writing this article, I went for 5 sticks at once to see if quantity would bring out a nice rosy scent. Only after did I look closely at the package and read that eating too many would act like a laxative, well I'll deal with that later I guess. After a while I couldn't take it anymore and threw out the gum which was now the size of my wallet, and had roughly the same taste. However with no other noses present, I could only rely on my own judgement. It was kind of hard to say. My hands did have a kind of sweet, soap-like scent, but was it from chewing the gum, or from handling it?
Well once again the results of my experiements are kind of grey, and it seems that science hasn't really delivered on it's promises. The company doesn't bother to mention the fact that if you want to stay rosy, you obviously have to keep chewing the gum constantly (which will then keep you busy in the washroom). Anyway it seems to me that an easier solution would be to just take a bath....
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