Bochukoh, Fragrant Mothballs
When I was a child, I used to be thrilled by a very favorable scent every time my mother opened the drawer of her closet. At that time, I was thinking she put some Nioibukuro (sachets) in there, but later I found out that it was merely a Bochukoh (防虫香, scented mothball).
On sunny days during Doyoh (the hottest period of summer) season, my mother and grandmother got busy with summer-airing of their Kimono occupying the most well-ventilated and nicely shaded place at the house. Kimono is made of silk and cannot be exposed to the sun, so that the house was filled with their Kimono flapping all over. Before the sunset, all Kimono were folded and put into the drawer back again with Washi (Japanese craft paper)-wrapped Bochukoh (see the picture below).
In the 8th century, there was a kind of Bochuko called Ebikoh (えび香), and some of them are still preserved at Shosoin (正倉院, the Repository for treasures and important materials of Todaiji Temple).
Bochukoh is a very moderate but refined way of moth prevention. It doesn’t kill insects but only keeps them away by its repellent scent. For this reason, Bochukoh is also used for Ohinasama (お雛様, dolls displayed at the Girls’ Festival). Interestingly enough, Bochukoh is deeply connected with our culture as such.
One of my friend is not a big fan of Japanese traditional scent, and she uses herbs such as lavender and rosemary instead of Bochukoh. What a nice idea.
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