During a visit to the museum, we tend to rely on our senses of sight, hearing, and touch to absorb the information presented and admire exhibits on display. However, do you know that there is this unusual museum in Oita Prefecture which has exhibits that can only be appreciated with your sense of smell? Join me to find out more about this special museum and discover what you can see and learn from here!
Oita Kaori no Hakubutsukan i.e. Oita Fragrance Museum is a museum featuring fragrances located in Beppu City, Oita Prefecture. It was first opened as Oita Kaori no Mori Hakubutsukan (大分香りの森博物館) in 1996, but due to low visitor numbers, it was sold to Hiramatsu Educational Group in September 2005. However, the deal attracted a lot of controversies then because the construction costs of the museum came up to about 4.4 billion yen but it was only sold for 200 million yen. As for the exhibits, they were given to Beppu University for free.
To mark the university’s 100th anniversary, Beppu University opened the Oita Fragrance Museum on its campus grounds in November 2007 where 3,625 exhibits and perfumes from the since-defunct Oita Kaori no Mori Hakubutsukan are displayed. Besides knowing about the history of fragrances, visitors can also take part in experience workshops to make a special perfume that is uniquely theirs. Other than being a tourist spot, the museum also aims to be an educational and research institute to meet a variety of needs.
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In the museum, there are two permanent exhibition galleries. On the first floor, the Fragrance Product Gallery features a fragrance factory which describes how fragrances are manufactured, the kinds of perfume in the world, and the types of aroma chemicals and the different methods of blending them to form fragrances.
On the second floor is the Fragrance History Gallery where you will find an introduction about fragrances from scientific and medical viewpoints, as well as important historical records about fragrances from ancient Egypt, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Asia, Japan, and the Rococo era. In the FiFi Awards exhibition corner, the fragrances which were winners in the annual event sponsored by The Fragrance Foundation are featured.
Other than learning about fragrances at this museum, another key selling point is the Perfumery Experience Craft Center where visitors can make a unique fragrance according to their preferences for a fee of 2,200 yen per person. Best of all, there is no age limit for this experience workshop so people of all ages including children can take part.
Participants start the process by choosing a perfume bottle and label for the fragrance they are going to create. There are two types of colored labels where the pink ones are meant for perfumes to be used by women, while the blue ones are for those to be used by men.
Once this is done, you can choose three types of aroma chemicals to form the top note, middle note, and end note of your fragrance blend. The top note refers to the first impression fragrance which the nose picks up first and lasts for about 20 minutes after the perfume is applied. As for the middle note, it forms the base smell which lingers for around 2 hours while the end note is supposed to be the longest-lasting at 6 hours. Upon making your selection, you will then choose the proportion of chemicals to add to your mixture of 30 mL. Depending on the composition of your mixture, the perfume will then smell differently.
For those who are in need of relaxation, why not head to the Aromatherapy Experience Room on the third floor of the museum? As long as you make a reservation beforehand and pay a fee of 500 yen, you can try various forms of aromatherapy and soothe your frazzled nerves.
After your visit, do swing by Cafe SA SAN BON which is located on the first floor of the museum to get some delicious light snacks and drinks. As you nurse your hunger pangs, take a walk in the herb garden outside the cafe to enjoy the greenery. Although the museum is open every day, the cafe is closed every Sunday so do keep this in mind when planning your visit. Before leaving the museum, you can visit the Museum Shop to buy some fragrance-related souvenirs for your friends and family.
If you are planning to visit this museum, take note that opening hours are from 10 am to 6 pm while the cafe is open from 10 am to 7 pm. Entrance fees are 500 yen for adults, 300 yen for university and senior high school students, and 200 yen for junior high school and primary students. If you are visiting in a group of at least 20, the charges will be reduced to 400 yen, 240 yen, and 160 yen, respectively.
For handicapped visitors, they and one companion of theirs will enjoy a 50 percent discount. Although the museum is theoretically open every day, there are times when it will be closed due to various reasons so it will be good to check out the Topics page (Japanese only) on the museum’s website before your visit.
There are also a few things to take note of during your visit. No smoking is allowed on the museum’s premises and the usage of mobile phones within the exhibition galleries is banned. Other than in the cafe area, no food and drinks should be consumed in the building. Professional photography is also prohibited in the galleries.
To get here, there are four ways to do so as stated on the museum’s website:
- Take the JR Nippou Honsen (JR 日豊本線) and get off at Beppu University Station before walking for 10 minutes. If you are taking the express service, get off at Beppu Station and change to a local train to get to Beppu University Station.
- Take the JR Nippou Honsen and get off at Beppu Station before switching to the Kamenoi Bus (亀の井バス) service and get off in front of Beppu University.
- Take a taxi from Beppu Station to Beppu University which should take about 12 minutes.
- Take a bus from Oita Airport which should take about 40 minutes.
Now that you’ve read so much about this unique museum, are you ready to head there for a unique sensory experience and to learn more about the world of fragrances? Have fun there!
Oita Fragrance Museum Website *Japanese only
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