In a place like Japan, your experience in a public space will likely involve a lot of sights, sounds and smells — not all of them good. In fact, this has led to the issue of 香害 (kōgai, smell/scent pollution) on trains, in offices and wherever people congregate in general.

One interesting aspect of Japanese is that there are different words to distinguish between good and bad smells. Good smells are referred to with the words 匂い (nioi, scent/aroma) and 香り (kaori, scent/odor/fragrance), the noun forms of the verbs being 匂う (niou, to smell) and 香る (kaoru, to smell sweet/fragrant).

Bad smells sound the same phonetically, but use a different kanji with 臭い (nioi, odor/smell/stench), which can also be pronounced in adjective form as 臭い (kusai, stinks). So, while we would say, このワインは洋梨の香りがする (kono wain wa yōnashi no kaori ga suru, this wine smells like pear), we would also say, このトイレは臭い (kono toire wa kusai, this toilet smells).