Originally Posted by Vivek I noticed something else unusual: throughout the floor every fragrance was paired with a single, well-used test strip, labeled with its name -- Fragile, Beautiful -- and impregnated with the scent. No clean strips were provided. There is a reason for this: apparently the Japanese dislike top notes, and by sampling perfumes this way you eliminate them. So the incandescent top notes of, say, Anna Sui's perfumes, which in the United States are a huge part of their allure, are actually dispensed with in Japan.
Of-course, this may be generalisation, and some Japanese people may love top notes, but the mother of a Japanese friend of mines collects fragrances, but doesn't open/use them, I believe this has something to do with the whole Japanese preservation of cleanliness.
I think that it's more like the Japanese don't like to wear fragrances, period.
When I was in Japan last year, I thought it would be clever of me to wear Mitsouko. But, being the Ugly American that I am, it proved to be a big cultural blunder. Everytime I got into a taxi, the driver would grunt his disapproval, the same with the waitresses in restaurants. I bought a bottle of Tactics while there and thought a Japanese product would fair better, no dice.
I went shopping at Mitsukoshi, a giant department store and all the fragrances had the "well-used test strips" that Burr refers to. So well used in fact, that they were actually kind of dirty, so I don't think it has anything to do with cleanliness.
Also, the Comme des Garcons and Yohji boutiques did not carry any fragrances.
At the Lutens boutique in Paris, there are test strips made for each of the bell jar scents, this is how you test them. I believe they are made daily, in the morning, before the store opens. They represent the dry-down of the fragrance, since this is what you are really buying.
So, the wax samples serve the same function. Have you ever seen solid parfum compacts? It's the same concept.