Genuine Marcel Proust fans will certainly be aware how memory is intertwined with sensory experiences. A new charity project in aid of relief efforts for the victims of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami is using this madeleine cake-esque motif to create an original piece of artistic, sensorial merchandise.
Aromamora is a scent brand and has got together with people from the creative industry, including Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo’s Kentaro Shihaku, to produce a photo book featuring nostalgic images of Tohoku in north Japan. The first volume of ‘aroma with Tohoku’ is now being sold online and through seven bookstores in Japan.
The organizers collected 500 photos of the region taken before the March 11 catastrophe and then curated this down to 52. Each photo captures a beautiful memory of what Tohoku was like before 3.11 and includes a personal message from the photographer.
However, it’s not just a photo book — in fact, it’s not a ‘book’ at all, but a box. The idea is that the scent, like the memories, should be closed up and kept safe for the future. Thus the photos are loose in a special gift box and there is even an extra bottle of aroma included for when the scent starts to fade.
Another product in the project is ‘uchiwamora’, a play on the words for ‘fan’ (uchiwa) and the aroma brand’s name. This time it’s a twist on the archetypal Japanese summer accessory, the fan.
The special uchiwa fans were created in Ishinomaki, one of the areas devastated on 3.11, where Japanese calligraphy brushes hanging from a tree drew strokes onto the fans in the summer breeze.
A second uchiwa series available has been decorated by children currently living in Ishinomaki evacuation shelters.
The photo box/book is priced 3,980 JPY (about $50) and the fans are 1,000 JPY (about $13) each, with the profits being then distributed in Tohoku via local NPOs.