An 8-year-old schoolgirl having trouble making friends thought it might be because she smelled bad. She sweated heavily. There’s not much you can do about it, except wash, and wash, and wash, but the smell remains — in your own mind if not in the nostrils of your classmates — and it grows on you until you hate yourself and feel you can hardly blame others for hating you. That’s heavy emotional baggage for a child. It can feed a lot of complexes.

Shizuka Saito, the girl in question, got over most of them, and 30 years later is a popular actress whose professional name is Mitsu Dan. Her reminiscences are part of a September Asahi Shimbun feature that asks, has the “deodorization of society” gone too far?

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