Sulfurous hot springs, lavender blossoms, grilled eel and wisteria are a few of the smells cited on a list of 100 especially fragrant places released by the Environment Ministry on Wednesday.
In a bid to focus attention on pleasant smells, rather than malodorous ones that have given rise to complaints in recent years, the ministry has decided to showcase 100 aromatic sites around the nation.
“We hope that this will raise awareness of people at the local level and lead to a rediscovery of fragrant areas and their preservation,” said ministry official Tetsuo Ishii.
The selected smells and sites cover everything from Chinese medicine shops in Toyama Prefecture and hedges in Aomori to seaweed shops in Mie and grilled eel in Shizuoka.
Officials said the selection process was not easy and that the eight judges had to walk a fine line selecting entries from the pool of 600 it received.
“What smells nice to one person, can be a stench to another person,” said Ishii.
The two most heavily debated sites were Tsuruhashi Station in Osaka, which was nominated for the smell of barbecued meet and kimchi, and Tokyo’s Kanda area, which was nominated for the scent in used bookstores. Each prefecture was home to at least one site, with Hokkaido, Nagano, Shizuoka, Kyoto and Oita prefectures each boasting four.
The selected spots covered natural sites and cultural sites.
Municipalities that are home to the selected areas will be feted and awarded certificates at an awards ceremony on Nov. 12 in Tokyo.