It’s that time of year again: the skies are blue, the temperature is down and every time I turn a corner I’m hit with a powerful, cloying floral smell. Yes, it’s autumn and the scent of kinmokusei キンモクセイ is in the air!
I’m sure you’ve smelled it too, although you may not have figured out the source: the tiny orange blossoms of the fragrant tea olive tree (Osmanthus fragrans var. aurantiacus). It’s a large shrub, really, and is widely planted in parks and the yards of homes around Japan. If you want the full story, take a look at a column I wrote on the subject in The Japan Times back in 2010.