Smell Club sniffs out world's best and worst odours
Cat breath, fresh futons and a grandmother's house among the odours catalogued on website
Worried that a trip to Japan might be ruined by the stench of feline halitosis? Convinced that a weekend break in Paris will be all the more memorable for a sniff of herbal soap? Time, then, to consider membership of the Smell Club.
The club's website (Japanese language), is the brainchild of a Japanese firm with an overdeveloped interest in all things nasal, and tags different odours around the world, pinpointing them on a map.
Since its launch last month, the site has gathered more than 160 odours in 68 locations, submitted by 200 members who call themselves "smellists".
The smells submitted so far range from the decidedly fetid – cow dung and old socks – to the quirky, including freshly aired futons and the steam from a rice cooker.
All users have to do is click on a balloon tag on the map or enter a keyword to reveal vital data, such as when best to inhale – or avoid – a particular smell and where to encounter it. The smells are ranked in order of pungency, from light to extra bold.
The people of Fujisawa, south-east of Tokyo, may be surprised to discover that part of their town, which isn't known for cattle farming, is redolent of the "the toasty odour of cow dung".
"We would much prefer to be known for the salty sea breeze," said one resident of the surfing town.
Also best avoided is nearby Kamakura, Japan's ancient capital, where the aroma of temple incense now apparently mingles with that of the bad breath of cats.
The site's operators say they are working on its one obvious weakness: the ability to verify the smellists' claims.
"All that is missing on the web is a smelling function," the spokeswoman Kayo Matsubara told the Associated Press. "That's our next challenge."
Even if that's not possible, the listed smells are eclectic enough to elicit nods of recognition.
One contributor, identified only as Nakkuru, says the smell of her grandmother's house puts her at ease, while Namezaemon declares himself thrilled by a passing woman's pheromones.
Smelly Okada's idea of nasal nirvana, meanwhile, is the aroma of a freshly unsheathed Apple computer.