Lush Japan version of Dream Cream (photo by Sheila Scarborough)The stores all smell the same; a divinely fresh patchouli-ish scent that is captured in their perfume named “Karma.”

Graffiti-style (and rather hard to read) handwritten signs are always perched above and around the handmade, all-natural soaps, shampoos and bath bars.

The staffs are all very scrubbed-looking hipster types who wear a lot of black and have a variety of pierced extremities.

They are Lush stores worldwide, and so what if it’s a chain – I simply adore visiting them when I travel.

The one in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, where I bought the little tub of Dream Cream that you see in the photo – roughly translated into Paradise cream on the Lush Japan website.

It was a leap of faith because I didn’t speak Japanese and the staff didn’t speak English, so my request for “Something for sensitive but slightly oily skin with a little bit of an eczema problem” brought nothing but puzzled looks, of course. Patting my face gently and saying “Ow!” and pantomiming peeling skin resulted in giggles, but they did offer the right product suggestion.

The Lush winkel (store) in Amsterdam is in – of course – a charming skinny Dutch building, the prices were written in guilders on my first visit and then Euros on my next, and they sell the hilariously-named douchegels which is NOT the sort of douche that Americans are used to.

After going wild in the Hong Kong Lush, I learned my lesson about not buying too many heavy bath bombs that end up feeling like I’m carrying a bag full of pleasant-smelling rocks up and down those hilly Hong Kong streets.

The London store, the Chicago store, the incomparable Kroppspudder (powder) selection in Norway….even a bland outpost in the Dallas’ North Cross Mall….all different yet all the same.

A chain of chain store visits across the planet, bringing comforting similarity plus striking differences with every stop.

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I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. NHRA drag racing fan. Co-founder of Tourism Currents. U.S. Navy veteran. Caffeinated.