Mitsouko (perfume)
Mitsouko is a 1919 perfume
Perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils and/or aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents used to give the human body, animals, objects, and living spaces "a pleasant scent"...

 by Guerlain
Guerlain is a French perfume house, among the oldest in the world. It has a large and loyal customer following, and is held in high esteem in the perfume industry...

. Its name is derived from the French transliteration of a Japanese female personal name
Personal name
A personal name is the proper name identifying an individual person, and today usually comprises a given name bestowed at birth or at a young age plus a surname. It is nearly universal for a human to have a name; except in rare cases, for example feral children growing up in isolation, or infants...

. Its top notes are a fruity chypre, with floral middle notes and spice base notes.


Mitsouko was created by perfumer
A perfumer is a term used for an expert on creating perfume compositions, sometimes referred to affectionately as a Nose due to their fine sense of smell and skill in producing olfactory compositions...

 Jacques Guerlain in 1919. The perfume has remained continuously available ever since.

Origin of the name

One account of the origin of the name is that it was inspired by the name of the heroine of Claude Farrère
Claude Farrère
Claude Farrère, pseudonym of Frédéric-Charles Bargone , was a French author of novels set in such exotic locations as Istanbul, Saigon, and Nagasaki. One of his novels, Les civilisés won the Prix Goncourt for 1905. He was elected for a chair at the Académie Française on 26 March 1935...

's novel La bataille (The Battle). The novel is set in Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 during the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

, and chronicles a fictional amour fou between a British Navy Officer and one "Mitsouko", the wife of Fleet Admiral Baron Heihachiro Togo
Togo Heihachiro
Fleet Admiral Marquis was a Fleet Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy and one of Japan's greatest naval heroes. He was termed by Western journalists as "the Nelson of the East".-Early life:...

. Both Togo and the British officer sail to war, and Mitsouko awaits with reserve
Stiff upper lip
One who has a stiff upper lip displays fortitude in the face of adversity, or exercises great self-restraint in the expression of emotion. The phrase is most commonly heard as part of the idiom "keep a stiff upper lip", and has traditionally been used to describe an attribute of British people ,...

 to see which of the two will return alive to her.
The other possibility is that it was inspired by the story of Mitsuko Aoyama
Mitsuko Aoyama
Mitsuko, Countess of Coudenhove-Kalergi , formerly known as , was one of the first Japanese people to emigrate to Europe, after becoming the wife of an Austrian diplomat, Heinrich von Coudenhove-Kalergi, in Tokyo...

, the mother of Richard Nikolaus Graf Coudenhove-Kalergi
Richard Nikolaus Graf Coudenhove-Kalergi
Richard Nikolaus Eijiro von Coudenhove-Kalergi was an Austrian politician, geopolitician, philosopher and count of Coudenhove-Kalergi...

Meaning of the name

One possible rendering of the personal name "mitsuko/mitsouko" in the Japanese language use of Chinese characters
Kanji are the adopted logographic Chinese characters hanzi that are used in the modern Japanese writing system along with hiragana , katakana , Indo Arabic numerals, and the occasional use of the Latin alphabet...

 is ). The "mitsu-" part of that compound means "mystery" or "mysterious". However it is an unlikely character ever to be used in personal names in Japan. Some sources cite this as an additional meaning for the name of the perfume.

Fragrance notes

Its top notes
Note (perfumery)
Notes in perfumery are descriptors of scents that can be sensed upon the application of a perfume. Notes are separated into three classes; top/head notes, middle/heart notes, and base notes; which denote groups of smells that can be sensed with respect to the time after the application of a perfume...

 are fruity Chypre
Chypre, or , is the name of a family of perfumes that are characterised by an accord composed of citrus top-notes, a floral middle, and a mossy-animalic base-note derived from oak moss and musks...

, its middle notes include peach and jasmine, and its base notes include vetiver
Chrysopogon zizanioides, commonly known as vetiver , is a perennial grass of the Poaceae family, native to India. In western and northern India, it is popularly known as khus. Vetiver can grow up to 1.5 metres high and form clumps as wide. The stems are tall and the leaves are long, thin, and...

, oakmoss
Evernia prunastri, also known as Oakmoss, is a species of lichen. It can be found in many mountainous temperate forests throughout the Northern Hemisphere, including parts of France, Portugal, Spain, North America, and much of Central Europe...

 and cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

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