The Bathroom of Ryoko Hori

REMEMBER THE SCENTS OF YOUR CHILDHOOD? Ryoko Hori wants to revive your memories by strengthening the connection between mind and body through the fantastic world of scents. 

REMEMBER THE SCENTS OF YOUR CHILDHOOD? Ryoko Hori wants to revive your memories by strengthening the connection between mind and body through the fantastic world of scents.

10 years ago, she left Japan and with that a career in fashion, and began studying remedial massage therapy in Australia, Ayurveda in India, and finally classic perfume making in France. Today, she finds herself in what she calls a senses salon in Neukölln, Berlin.

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"We seem to have developed our vision so much more than the rest of our senses. "

Reconnect With Nature

Ryoko’s salon is more than a business – she is on a mission to reconnect modern people with their bodies and senses. Mindfulness and meditation have both been rediscovered in recent years creating an awareness of the importance of prioritising peace of mind. Ryoko meditates daily and does meditation workshops in the tatami room, but also wants to add the layer of connecting body and mind through our often neglected senses:

“We seem to have developed our vision so much more than the rest of our senses. And if you use one sense a lot, you will at some point weaken the others. Today, vision is our primary sense, but we tend to forget that when we are, our sense of smell is the most developed of them all – it is the very way we perceive the world for the first time. We need to practice using our sense of smell and taste again, to connect with our body as a whole,” Ryoko tells us, as she pours traditional Japanese green tea, hōjicha, into one of her many homemade clay cups. She handles her surroundings with gentle, elegant movements, carefully arranging everything to perfection.

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A Personal Matter

Ryoko studied the traditional ways of things, yet searches for her own path in everything she does. Something that seems to be running in her family, as she tells:

“On my mother’s side, I feel very connected to my great-grandmother. In the very beginning of the 20th century, Japan was a very conservative society, but she had her own stationery shop, a ryokan (Japanese guesthouse, ed.) as well as a pachinko parlour (Japanese arcade game, ed.), which was highly unusual for women back then. I felt the need to know more about her, and now I’ve started making a special scent for her.” The scent will be made on a base of sandalwood, cinnamon, clove, and oud - one of her personal favourites, which has been used for centuries in Japan.

“Just like her,” so Ryoko tells. ”I want to find my own way. I find it fascinating to understand the traditional way, but I want to make the path my own.”

Everything Ryoko does is a personal matter. A personal story telling the origin of everything in the shop carries her mark in the shape of hand-written notes or labels made on an old typewriter, which is standing behind the counter.

“Everything we make is still very small-scale, so I like to make it personal. It will mean something more to people when they know the story behind and get little hand-writings, too,” Ryoko says.

“Just like her,” so Ryoko tells. ”I want to find my own way"

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The Scent of Memories

Ryoko compares applying oils onto your skin with eating, and the making of them with cooking. She is fascinated by the skin and keeps referring to it as the largest organ of the body. Just as she is very mindful with what she eats – although, Daniel is the one who cooks it – she truly cares about the origin of her ingredients. Recently, she travelled to India with her father to search for new ingredients, her personal touch being palpable in every step of all processes. Being personally involved is time-consuming, but that might also just be her secret ingredient:

“All scents tell their own story, not least because of the long time that went into making them,” Ryoko says, and explains the process of making a new scent or oil; the mixing of essential oils, then the wait for the different scents to merge, and the coming back to check the next day, only to start all over again. She saves everything, even the mixes she doesn’t like, and pours them into one large bottle to see what comes out – a punch of unsuccessful scents that might just turn into something better together.

“I can always make more, but the ingredients are never the same. Everything changes with time,” Ryoko says. Time is a secret component but making scents is no definite science, she explains:

“Smell is one of the senses directly connected with the most primitive brain centres which are responsible for our emotions and memories. There cannot be any final answers because the way people experience scents is not the same all over the world, it changes with their experiences, their roots, the place and culture.”

Although all of her different scents and lotions are addictive, she wants us to experience something else through the scents than ‘pure’ pleasure. She wants us to allow ourselves to let the scents take us back:

“Scents let you remember the tastes of childhood, maybe sometimes even dreams,” Ryoko says with persuasion and leaves us longing for a scented journey through time.

“Scents let you remember the tastes of childhood, maybe sometimes even dreams,”

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