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Kuroho ~Timeless Fragrance~

Shiseido revived the ancient fragrance "Kuroho"
- adored by Heian-period aristocrats - as a fragrance for cosmetics.

Shiseido's study on fragrance

Shiseido's study spans many aspects of fragrances - in addition to studying the psychological and physiological effects, we conduct a search for a global scale for fragrance materials and study their history, culture, and tradition. "Kuroho" is an incense originated in the Heian Period, which Shiseido has arrived at as one of the key materials in its study on the Japanese fragrance culture.

Incense ceremony tools
(appreciating the scent of "Kuroho")

"Kuroho" - a fragrance Heian-period
aristocrats adored

Fragrance was an important communication tool for the aristocratic class in the Heian Period, because men and women at that time typically did not see each other face to face. Fragrance was a crucial piece of information to gauge one’s level of sophistication in taste and social status. The aristocrats formulated original fragrances using their highly-prized, precious raw materials handed down for generations, honing perfumery skills with one another.

The ultimate fragrance in those days was "Kuroho." Its deep fragrance was likened to have an expression of crisp, winter air and ice-covered water. "Kuroho" appears in important scenes of the "Tale of Genji," a classic Japanese novel from the Heian Period.

While many formulations exist for "Kuroho," Shiseido analyzed the one developed by Minamoto no Kintada, cited in "Kunshuruisho" - a collection of fragrance formulations compiled in the Heian Period. Minamoto no Kintada was said to be transcendental at incense mixing, also an excellent waka poet, a competent falconer, and a skilled administrator. It is conceivable that he lived a life of Hikaru Genji, the main protagonist of the Tale of Genji.

Fusion of the Heian aristocrat's
formulation and the skills of
modern-day perfumer

Shiseido took on the challenge of giving the "Kuroho" - a Heian fragrance described in "Kunshuruisho" – a new life in the cosmetics of today. The natural raw ingredients originally called for in the Heian Period formulation of "Kuroho" have become scarce and are hard to reach. Besides, direct incorporation of kneaded incense "Kuroho" in its form was not suitable in cosmetics.
In order to recreate the 'Kuroho' that is applicable for use in cosmetics, the scent was scientifically analyzed and a sensory evaluation and preference survey were conducted. Based on the remarkable skills of perfumers, the scent was successfully recreated. It was truly a fusion of the formulation developed by a Heian-period aristocrat and the modern technologies of today's perfumers. The prestigious scent of "Kuroho" has come alive in cosmetics, transcending the time period of more than 1,000 years.

A Shiseido perfumer experiencing
the traditional culture of fragrance

The 'Kuroho' scent is found in some of the Shiseido body care products.
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Shiseido body care products

For Shiseido body care products available in your area, visit the website of the country your residence.

for the details


Here are some facts about the fragrance and makeup culture of Heian aristocrats.
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※ All images are for illustrative purposes only.