The Japanese have a word, “natsukashii”, for which there is no English equivalent although I suppose “nostalgia” would come close.  But whereas “nostalgia” suggests a feeling of longing, a certain wistfulness, maybe even a sense of loss that is closer to the fatalistic tone of the Portugese “saudade”, the term “natsukashii” possesses an almost evanescent quality suggestive of fond memories and feelings recaptured, a sort of magical journey back to a pleasant instant in one’s past, triggered by a sight, sound, smell, or flavor.  So, while “nostalgia” is probably the easiest way for Westerners to grasp the concept, I prefer “this takes me back” as a truer definition of the term.

Whether it’s a certain food, a t.v. show, maybe even a particular scent, you’ve all experienced this sense of natsukashii.  I have – as recently as the other day when I was driving home with the window down and had those fond remembrances triggered by, of all things, the smell of skunk.

Oh, yeah. This takes me back...

Yes, believe it or not, the smell of skunk is one of my natsukashii triggers.  It takes me back to my childhood growing up in the Montreal suburbs, where skunks were plentiful and their wafting aroma was as much a part of our family evening patio sit-downs as the chirrup of crickets and bzzzzAP of the bug zapper. And that got me to thinking about the otherwise unremarkable elements of every day life that serve as personal and particular catalysts, awakening my sense of natsukashii.

Hate the stuff, but it does bring back happy memories.

In addition to skunk, it’s the smell of mint – which is somewhat strange given that it’s an herb I don’t particularly enjoy and generally tend to avoid, but the scent takes me back to my childhood days spent running my fingers through the mint my parents used to grow in their backyard.

Needless to say I picked up all six seasons on dvd. Anyone up for a marathon?

60’s t.v. is a huge trigger, especially The Flintstones, a show my sister and I would watch every day when we’d come home for lunch.  We’d head downstairs and eat smoked meat sandwhiches or, on those special occasions, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Bubble Up, delighting in Fred and Barney’s antics while, upstairs, dad played cribbage with his boss, the both of them trading bizarre, unfathomable phrases throughout like “Fifteen four and the rest won’t score” or “Fifteen two and the rest won’t do” as if communicating in code.  Get Smart, Batman, and Hogan’s Heroes are also on the list along with the psychedelic Spiderman animated (well, sort of) series.  On the movie front, it’s the original Star Wars which I must have seen a good two dozen times in the first year of its release.  Also, the entire run of Planet of the Apes movies, which explains why I have so much hate for Tim Burton’s re-imagined version.  Well, that and the fact it was a piece of crap.

Oh, yeah, that's the stuff!

When it comes to flavors, one takes me back more than any other: the rich, hazelnutty taste of nutella.  Hey, I’m Italian, and if you grew up Italian, chances are you ate a lot nutella sandwiches.  And, if you were like me, you also slathered it on powdered doughnuts and ate it with vanilla ice cream.  Or, occasionally, straight out of the jar.

Man, just the sight of this cover makes me want to go back and re-read my collection.

Comic books!  Which no doubt explains my life-long love of the medium.  And even though I do appreciate new titles like Scalped and DMZ, certain titles remain near and dear to my heart: 70’s Avengers and Spiderman, and 60’s Batman.

Planet of the Apes action figures (Not dolls, mind you.  There’s a big difference.)!

These are just the few that come readily to mind, but I’m sure there are countless others I’ve forgotten – and that I’ll no doubt be reminded of when I least expect it.

And you?  What makes you natsukashii?

Today’s entry is dedicated to birthday boy Major D. Davis.

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Shane C
Shane C

Ah smoked meat sandwiches in Montreal, also reminds me of my childhood in DDO Montreal grin

Gilder
Gilder

Good, I’m an early commenter! Because the photo with this article gave me a case of SG1 natuk…natsu…nak…um, dèja vu? Take a close-ish look at the USAF colonel, third from left.
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/the_first_phase_of_a_750_million_joint_enlisted_medic_training_complex_opens_at_fort_sam_97543879.html?ua=i&c=y

Anyone else see a Janet Fraiser resemblance?

annie from Fremantle
annie from Fremantle

Great topic but I’m so busy working that I can only give one natsukashii.. lamb roast.

As a child my mother REFUSED to have any lamb product in the house.. she hated it and so we weren’t allowed to have any – up until the age of 18 I never knew what it tasted like. (trust me when I moved out I gorged myself on its luscious flesh).

The neighbours at the back of us always cooked it on a Sunday.. I could smell the aroma of lamb roast, the much used lard it cooked in.. and would visit often through the gap in our fence in the hope that I’d just get a tiiiiny morsel.. but they were so poor they never offered.

I loved their sense of family with seven kids and always sitting around the table eating their traditional meals. I was really envious because I never felt that with my dysfunctional mess of a family..

So yeah, roast lamb – is my most powerful natsukashii…

Tammi K
Tammi K

Living in Australia for a time, we were able to buy generic “Chocolate Hazelnut Spread” for $1.99 at Woolworths. Nutella is just too d@mn expensive in the US. My kids lived on this stuff. It wasn’t just a pleasant memory. It was a way of life.

logan
logan

Hey Joe – I may have experienced Natsukashii with the breakup with my first girlfriend when I was a teenager. She loved string cheese, and after we broke up, cheese would remind of her. I would eat pizza to remember her, which did no favors to my waistline. Does this count? smile

PoorOldEdgarDerby
PoorOldEdgarDerby

When they redid the cafeteria at the University Center at my school I immediately noticed a very specific smell.

I was about three or four and my mother made the mistake of thinking generic spaghetti-o’s would be as good as the real deal. After one bite I went into the kitchen and stuck the bowl in the lower oven which we really only used during the holidays. A few weeks later, the bowl was fairly ripened, and the smell at opening…

I guess that’s not quite the same, but my association with what passed for that smell garunteed I did not eat there very often again.

Shannon
Shannon

Freshly baked brownies!! My dad was stationed in Australia when I was 8 and they didn’t have boxed brownie mix… so my mom had to make them from scratch and were rare. The same goes with Pop-Tarts (we could put in a limited request for items from the States.). They don’t have the Vanilla Cream anymore… that with a little butter on top and I’m in heaven (no, I’m not as big as a barn, but if I ate everything my heart desired…)

I still can barely show restraint around a pan of brownies.

Also – Nutella is awesome. I can’t keep it in the house or I’ll just open it up and eat it.

On a non-food level, a good thunderstorm, the kind with tornadoes and the sky turning black (or green).

Major D. Davis
Major D. Davis

Thanks Joe for the dedication!

Wow. Nutella.. soooo good yet so bad for you. smile Love that stuff!

Thanks so much,
Major D. Davis

Bailey
Bailey

Good Lord, can’t help myself…
Watching reruns of SGA on Syfy brings me that kind of feeling!
As does spaghetti sauce simmering on the oven. smile

Elminster
Elminster

Hey Joe. Not sure I’ve ever had that happen. Sure, certain smells and I’ll remember where I was when I’ve smelled them before, but I get no emotion from it. Some smells I just love, strange chemical smells that don’t bring back any memories just feelings. Ah well, I’m strange.

Elminster

Ponytail
Ponytail

My mother made all my clothes up until I was about 25. She was the greatest seamstress. Just the other day, I caught myself mesmerized and staring at someone’s dress. The fabric she had on reminded me of something my mom had made me long ago. It is usually from the 70’s and I try to remember the exact dress and style. This has been happening a lot lately.

Also, the smell of my grandma’s basement. Every so often, something will have that same old, dark, quiet, damp smell and it will immediately take me back to playing in her basement, exploring every nook and cranny. All the cool things we found down there…like a pair of old crutches. I remember using them out in her front yard, wanting her neighbors to see me and say “that poor child, she has a broken leg”.

Now I have tears in my eyes…you’ve made me cry.

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

Super bubble bubble gum. Brings back some of my earliest memories. Once a week I’d get a quarter for an allowance. A short bike ride to the nearby p.x. annex, and the quarter would convert into a comic book (Dell Tarzan, Korak, Turok son of Stone, or one of the Marvel titles), an orange sherbert push up, and a piece of super bubble. With a penny change. I’d sit outside and eat the sherbert while reading the comic, then enjoy the gum on the ride home.
Otherwise I’m usually caught offguard by scents and the memories they evoke. It’s astonishing how strong such memories can be.
Thanks for sharing your natsukashii. I’m glad you brought up the topic, and am eager to see what some of the other regulars come up with.

@anyone going to Shore Leave. So, how about a roll call? Perhaps a get-together one evening? Or we invade one of the panels and turn it to Stargate talk?

Montrealer
Montrealer

Arghhh!

They extended the debt payment deadline again for MGM. So no news on anything Stargate until late August.

According to the Hollywood Reporter http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i0dbd1be978e01a7f02a9a16ac73d582b

Ganymede
Ganymede

Okay, no lie – but right *now* sitting in front of me, I have this little 18g sample packet of NUTELLA that I got last week at Costco, that I *just* took out of my fridge to snack on!!

And thankfully, *NO* skunk smell – tonight! Actually, it’s been pretty good lately with the lack of such, so, I shouldn’t say anything to jinx things up!

JeffW

The smell of Honeysuckle and cut grass.

The two go together because I grew up in a small town in a house on 2-acres were I was the “slave-labor, push-mower, grass-cutter” for most of my teen years.

Now whenever I happen to run across cut grass and sweet flower scents, I think of fighting that cantankerous pull-start mower.

And Happy Birthday Major D. Davis! smile

pg15

Oh, this takes me back. Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” never fails to conjure up an image in my head of us cresting a hill as we drove the Crowsnest Highway and seeing the morning sunlight blanketting the distant, desolate flanks of the Rocky Mountains. This was during our very first road trip when we went to Banff, in 1997. On the way there and back, we only had about a dozen or so Glen Campbell songs to listen to over and over again, but since I was a kid with a short attention span, I didn’t care. In fact, every time I listen to one of these songs now, I get a “Banff vibe”, but “Wichita Lineman” is definitely more significant than the others, especially near the end when the trumpets(?) become more prominent. Also, his “Rhinestone Cowboy” reminds me of my mom and my Uncle teaching me the lyrics to that song in my dimly-lit bedroom back when I first arrived in Canada and had to learn English. Every time we go on trips we’d have a soundtrack, so a lot of my songs give me a sense of “natsukashii” when I listen to them again. John Denver’s “Calypso” reminds me of Mt. Rainier; Ray Price’s “Please Release Me” reminds me of us driving through Bakersfield, CA in the dark of night; John Denver’s “For Baby” reminds me of driving through the pouring rain at one of the Redwoods parks in California; Merle Haggard’s “Mamma Tried” reminds me of driving Highway 99 up north towards Prince George; Man Wen Jun’s “Dong Ni” (a Chinese song) reminds me of driving through a patch of highway in Prince George that was being fixed; the track “Lugia’s Song” from the Pokemon 2000 movie soundtrack reminds me of driving through the magnificent desolation of northern Nevada, where the undulating landscape pretty much matched the tempo of the track; The Carpenter’s “Rainy Days and Mondays” and “Bless the Beast and the Children” reminds me of driving through central Vancouver Island and stopping to eat lunch at a Rest Area on the highway; Alan Jackson’s “Sissy’s Song” reminds me of driving through the lower Olympic penninsula when our CD player broke and we had to rely on the radio, and Uncle specifically wanted us to wait until this song played on a local country music station because he loved it; Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” reminds me of driving through the green plains of Wyoming in our motorhome when my mom wanted me to sing along to this song because I sounded like Elton John, apparently; the track “Round Up” from the I, Robot movie soundtrack reminds me of a moment when the revealing of a mountain vista as we were driving the Crowsnest highway almost exactly 12 years after the Banff trip coincided with the crecendo of the track – it was a perfect combination of sight and sound; and ABBA’s “The Winner Takes it All” reminds me of driving the northern Oregon… Read more »

sorrykb
sorrykb

It might seem strange, but the vague chemical smell (and the weird reflected light) from swimming pools always bring me back to my youth. My dad used to take my sister and me with him on business trips (mostly around California) when we were kids. While dad was out at meetings, my sister and I would spend entire afternoons (and sometimes evenings) playing around and in the hotel pools, having elevator races, eating junk food from the vending machines (or, if we had extra cash, ordering room service), and generally enjoying kid heaven. Even walking by my apartment building’s pool just now, I felt suddenly like I was 10 years old again. Ahhhhhh.
– KB

sorrykb
sorrykb

Oh, and I forgot to say: Happy birthday Major D. Davis! smile

Deni
Deni

The smell of my face washing stuff, it takes me right back to Miami Beach and my mother when I was little. The smell of new clothes (much shopping), the ocean, even the wet bathing suits hanging in the shower. I can almost taste the sweet rolls and blintzes from Wolfie’s, the burgers and club sandwiches from Jordan Marsh and the Ice Princess from Burdine’s (a mountain of merengue and ice cream for the “skirt” of the princess and a little plastic princess on top). The wonderful thing is that I get to do it every day and “be” with my mom who has been gone for 30 years. smile

sylvia
sylvia

Wonderful topic and reading your and others comments flooding my consciousness with memories.
PG15 comments immediately – brought the fragrance or aroma of an oil used on Chinese swords to keep them from rusting and for some reason I loved and still do love that smell. And, even though I have nothing close to that near me, I can smell it.

For a long while, I refused to listen to oldies and goodies music because some of the tunes brought back painful memories. Then a very good and wise friend said, I was also cheating myself of very good memories which do in fact outnumber the painful ones.

Memories, Memories…..Thanks, Joe!

Sue Jackson
Sue Jackson

Skunk??? Ick! :p Got a lotta skunks where I live. I never see ’em but I can smell ’em. Everytime…I drive home from work at night…I’m always smellin’ a skunk. I like gag. Ick.

What makes me natsukashii? When I hear 80s music on the radio. Or…when I watch an old TV show from the 80s. That was my childhood. And…I loved my childhood. I love to reminisce back to my childhood days. My mom was always with me as a child. And…I guess that’s how I like to remember her. My mom passed away 7 years ago and I still miss her so. My mommy took very good care me as a child.

Ponytail
Ponytail

I think I live in a constant state of natsukashii. Through out the year, the different seasons and days are always bringing up memories and feelings.

Every September, late in the month, when the summer heat finally starts to break, the days turn absolutely beautiful. There is always a day where there is a deep blue sky and the temperature is perfect. And I remember a very young co-worker, who one Sunday evening decided to take her own life. Every year that beautiful September day rolls around and I think of her and wonder why would anyone want to kill themselves on such a beautiful day.

I guess some natsukashii can be haunting.

Gilder
Gilder

Here’s my true “natsukashii”: Stangl pottery from my home region in New Jersey. The”Farm Life” design was our everyday dinnerware. My sis has the set now, but I have several other pieces, including two teapots. I’ve found the odd piece in antiques stores from NJ to Texas; even browsed for Stangl last week in an Irish antiques mall.

http://www.stanglpottery.org/

PBMom
PBMom

For me, a lot of it is music. I have a “70’s” song playlist in my Itunes that have songs that bring me back to those days, including songs from The Chi-Lites, the Stylistics, Al Green, The Bay City Rollers, The Jackson 5, etc. Then I have the songs from the 80’s that bring me back to fond memories of my teenage years. The smell of salt water reminds me of our visitation with my dad when he would take us down to Asbury Park or Point Pleasant in NJ. Tasting Dannon Fruit on the Bottom yogurt is associated with pleasant memories of trips with my dad, especially the cherry and coffee flavors. Every time I go visit my sister in NJ, I have to be certain to treat myself to things I cannot get in Texas — a decent Italian ice, a real cannoli, raspberry jelly chocolates. I always have to go to the boardwalk (this time at Seaside Heights) as my sister lives in Toms River. Also soft serve ice cream. All you have down here is that Dairy Queen crap. Having crab brings me back to the times we would visit my uncle’s house down the street after they went out crabbing and all the family would gather around and have a feast. As far as what I was watching, definitely The Flintstones was one of them. For me Lost In Space was another big epic event. I recently purchased the DVDs, however, and it has lost its magic for me. The Ed Sullivan Show. Star Trek. The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man. But the TV shows that bring me the warm fuzzies were the Christmas classics like Rudolph and The Year Without A Santa Clause. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, they stopped showing them on TV and I was able to find a company who had them on VHS tape (before they became popular again). I paid quite the price to get these and I would watch them whenever I was feeling down and lonely. Star Wars was epic and it was the first time I was in love with two men at the same time — Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. I just could not choose. Then there was Tiger Beat and Leif Garrett, Ralph Macchio, Shawn Cassidy. The Brady Bunch, the Partridge Family. Love American Style. The Saturday morning classics of H.R. Puf-in-Stuf, and Lidsville and Land of the Lost. And for all the great memories those brings, there are equally strong things that take me back to a scary place — fire, rats, dark places with scary dogs. I eventually got over my fear of dogs and pigeons and boats. I remember vividly being on a boat that was going around the Statue of Liberty when I was age 5 or younger. There were stormy seas and when we were pulling back into port the boat almost capsized; it was listing heavily away from the dock. We were told… Read more »

otros ojos
otros ojos

At this time of year, a late-afternoon sun (with some lazy, puffy white clouds) shimmering on either ocean or lake water. Beach-salty and sunscreen scents, or the smell of warm wood on freshwater boat docks. The sound of surf-reverb guitar, Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer,” or any of quantity-unknown awesome/cool songs that have stayed with me over the years. Being pleasantly worn out from swimming, walking at water’s edge, etc., all day, and anticipating an alfresco dinner with friends or just on my own. “Beach hair” and slightly rumpled, summery clothes. Comfy sandals. The fragrance of ripe strawberries.

Love reading your and everyone else’s natsukashii recollections. Excellent topic; thanks. . .