Aroma Effect: The Smell of Wood Is Better than Chanel No.5


Degeneration of smelling ability

One day at a restaurant with my wife, I was finishing off lunch with crème brulee, a kind of custard pudding. Hokkaido is the biggest milk production area in Japan, and best in the quality of dairy products. Soon after taking a bite, sweet and sour taste spread in my mouth. Nodding knowingly, I said “Lemon is doing its magic.” My wife suspiciously said “What?! There’s no way that lemon is used in crème brulee!” She twitched the cup from me and smelled it. Her judge was “Are you OK? It’s just gone bad.”

I don’t mean to make an excuse my taste, but our smelling sense has been most degrading among human five senses. Once human beings had more than 800 olfactory receptors, but now, the number is only less than 400. In exchange for that, we’ve got eyesight much better than other animals, though.

Smelling sense acts on emotions and memories

About 200 million years ago, in order to avoid dinosaurs, mammals are thought to be active at night. Accordingly, a sense of smell was most important for them to move in the dark. After the extinction of dinosaurs, mammals advanced into the world in the sunlight, and human beings had evolved its visual sense. It is said that we obtain 80% of information input from vision. Inversely with the improvement of visual sense, our smelling sense has been degrading but is still necessary and special. It acts directly on emotions and memories while other four senses work to form a rational judgement.

A CG of a room: gray walls and floor, a dinning table, four dining chairs, a two-seater sofa, etc.

Most people like the smell of wood

Indeed, I often feel like smells trigger some memories or emotions. It can be said that a sense of smell is most likely to cause psychological reactions, like aromatherapy does. The reaction is not a judge of good or bad, but a gut feeling of like or dislike. Most of our likes and dislikes in smell are formed by the age of about three years. I believe most people like the smell of wood, right? It always reminds me of a sauna, by the way. In addition, some medical reports are saying the smell of wood actually has some good effects of relaxation, bringing down blood pressure, boosting immunity, etc. Putting them together, there’s no reason not to buy our furniture made of special wood in Hokkaido!


Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.


Photo Credit: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/5/11/15614748/human-smell-good-science