Rare enough to be displayed in a museum, this is what the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo thought when they discovered a piece of ambergris dating to the 1970s in their reserves. The exhibition, which has a focus on sea mammals, runs until September 26, 2010.
Head perfumer of Kanebo Cosmetics Ryoichi Komaki was called upon to help extract the scent...
"The Chinese call it "long yan siang" or the fragrance of a dragon's saliva.
"It smells a little bit like turpentine. Otherwise, it's difficult to describe," said one Japanese man after taking a sniff.
"It stays in my nose, and smells like a tree," said one Japanese woman."
You can read the full article and watch a video here.
I particularly loved the passage above where the differing takes on the scent of ambergris reveal its complexity and/ or the challenge it is to describe scents.
I was personally also struck by the many facets of the substance as stated in this olfactory report on ambergris back in 2008 around Balmain Ambre Gris.
Image: Wikimedia Commons