In summer of 1987, I met a handsome Harvard student in Tokyo. He was staying in Japan during the summer break. I don’t remember why he wanted to visit Japan but clearly do remember what he wanted to become. He was still twenty-one or so and was in his undergraduate years. When I asked if he wanted to become a lawyer like his father, he simply replied, “No, I want to be an author.” It sounded naive, but his eyes looked determined.

We didn’t stay in touch after he had returned to the States, but I had remembered those eyes and his name ‘John B. Schwartz’ for years. About ten years ago, when I introduced myself to a woman at a friend’s party in Brooklyn, she immediately recognized that I was Japanese because of the book she had read. The story took place in Japan, and she told me that one of the characters in that book had the same name (Nobi) as mine. A few days later, when I got a copy of the book, I was grinning and laughing.

Last night we had a dinner with Ron Winnegrad (The head of IFF perfumery school) and his wife Robin. Ron has quite an interesting personal background – his father was a manager for known prize fighters, and he was babysat by them as a child. His looks and his way of thinking seem to belong to an artist rather than someone who runs a very exclusive and successful perfumery school, and of course that is why I always enjoy seeing him. I am always interested in hearing about the young and talented future perfumers. This time Ron told me about a young student from Brazil whose story reminded me of John B. Schwartz, which made me think that a real determination often appears in a very innocent manner.

Becoming a perfumer for known houses could be more difficult than becoming a successful author, but you will get there if you are disciplined and determined enough.

*****

本当の香水調香師になることは、作家として成功することよりも困難なことかもしれません。しかし、強い決心と集中力があれば、日本人であっても世界の檜舞台で活躍する道は開けてきます。