Friday, November 7, 2008

Smelly barbarian

Accounts written after Perry and the Blackships came to Japan describe white people as smelling of butter, meat and sweat. Charming I know. While I think I can safely say I don't smell like butter or meat (except after a night of yakiniku), I, like most other barbarians from Overseas, smell after I sweat. After getting over the initial excitement of buying my first spray deodorant when I was around 12, I haven't thought much about it since. Until a couple days ago when I had to buy my first stick of deodorant in Japan. In the years I've been here I have not gone au natural, perpetuating the tale of the smelly white barbarian, but rather I always made sure to bring several sticks of deodorant back with me after trading missions abroad. Why? you beg to ask. Because I have never seen anything resembling ladies' deodorant in the pharmacies here.

Imagine my shock last week when the last of my lady speed stick crumbled to pieces and I discovered there was no back-up stock in the bathroom cabinet. I vacillated between ordering some online and having my mom send me some and then didn't do anything about it for a very smelly week. And I couldn't just borrow the beau's gentleman speed stick because he doesn't own deodorant and probably never has. He's the limited edition no-smell Japanese boyfriend! Seriously, he is scent-free. It is the strangest phenomenon. I have even smelt his armpits after sports and nothing!!! What kind of good deal did the Japanese make with the evolution gods to make their sweat odourless?

As I said, it was not a good week without deodorant. What with the seasonal change I am overdressed half the time and schlepping around town makes my eyelids sweat so just imagine what was happening in my pittal area!

Enter my new roll-on deodorant. I was acutely embarrassed as I brought it to the check-out counter and was honestly surprised when they didn't put it the same little brown bag they use when I buy tampons. You'd be embarrassed too if you had seen how the ladies' deodorants (all two of them) were hidden in the dark reaches of the pharmacy isle. I had two choices: spray or roll-on, and they were made by the same company. I went roll-on as the sprays had strange scents that reminded me of the spray deodorants boys used to saturate the cloakroom with at primary school. So I went with my "soap" fragrance roll-on with not only anti-perspirant but anti-bacterial ingredients too!!! Score.

Back at chez Geisha I felt like a pubescent lass all over again as I excitedly tore off the plastic wrapping and went to town with my new roll-on friend. I don't know what they put in this deodorant but it smelled like pure alcohol at first and I'm surprised I didn't get fire pit. After a minute or so it started to smell more akin to a cleaning agent like Lysol and after more arm-waving time, began to smell like a more passable deodorant. Safe for now. I'll use it all up but I'm going to stop procrastinating and get a whole box of normal stick deodorant shipped over here pronto. Despite the fact that deodorant is a given for both genders Overseas, Japan has yet again managed to make me feel unfeminine and barbaric.


Auberginefleur said...

I never had to use deodorant until I became middle-aged, but now use the deodorant sheets by Biore easily found at convenience stores as well as drugstores. There should be a number of other deodorant options at conveninece stores as well.

Reannon said...

That's funny. I use that same deoderant, which I guess isn't that surprising considering that's really the only one available here. I like the smell though!

astrorainfall said...

That sounds like an awful deodorant. Fire pits?!?! I tried to buy deodorant for my bf and there are also only two choices. 'Tis a sad scenario.

A few gaijin gals I know complained that the deodorants here have no antiperspirant in them.

If you are not big on antiperspirant, deodorant crystals are available in kusuriyas.

Kelley Dawne said...

The same thing happened to me. They actually have a new one now that's really good. It's a foreign brand I comes in a silver package and is a small solid. They also do foot cream. Lemme look at it when I get home and I'll tell you the brand name.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Thank you for the outpouring of support ladies! I am happy to report that things are going quite well with my new deodorant and the fire has been put out, so to speak.

Lisa said...

Hmm, I could open up an exporting company sending American deodorant overseas!

Whenever I am in Japan I pick up the Shiseido spray-on deodorant in the hotel's convenience store. It has silver in it and I like the scents. But I kind of use it as a body spray and not so much as a deodorant. Good luck!