I am able to sense when a loved one is visiting us through smell. But I can only do this when some possession of theirs that they treasured or used a lot are nearby. For example, we have a shoe cabinet that my father-in-law used. At the time, some of his shoes were still in it. I could smell his presence by that shoe cabinet; this went on for a number of years after he passed. His presence smells medicinal, like a hospital room. During the last 15 years of his life, my father-in-law had numerous operations, so we saw him a lot in the hospital.
When my mother-in-law passed in 2002, I started to smell incense in various parts of the house. This was before we brought her butsadan from her house to ours. I had one of her address books we had used to call up relatives to notify them of her passing. The scent of incense was very strong by her address book. I thought the odor was coming from the outside, but once I passed the address book and went to the sliding glass door to open it, the scent was gone. She made appearances for a few years after she passed.
When we went through my in-laws' possessions in their home, I could always tell which items meant the most to them. Their spirit scent would emanate strongly from those items. Other items, no smell at all. Just before we sold their home, I took photos of the house. Three orbs showed up in the living room--this is where my in-laws spent most of their time.
I did have one physical experience where my mother-in-law's picture on the butsudan started to vibrate--a lot! There was no earthquake or anything to cause her photo to shake. It kept going until I got up and picked up her photo, then repositioned it. That happened one time.
In 2014, I got an old china cabinet belonging to my mother, and some old Sports Illustrated magazines belonging to my father. I placed the magazines inside the cabinet. For a few weeks, I could small a scent of roses mixed with plumeria near this china cabinet. Even my husband could smell it, which was unusual, because he has lost his sense of smell years back. My father and I had a contentious relationship when he was alive, so I was surprised he made an appearance at all.
A few months later, I smelled roses very strongly for about week by this china cabinet. What triggered it was when I brought home two large outdoor Nativity sets that I'd picked up from K-mart. My father was strongly religious, so apparently he was pleased to see those Nativity sets. Since that time, he has made no further appearances.
With my in-laws, I smelled their presence off and on for about 5-6 years (father-in-law from 1994-2000), (mother-in-law from 2002 - 2007) after they passed. I loved and respected both very much.
With my own father it was about 3 weeks off and on that I smelled his presence. My mother-no appearances at all. I was not close to either parent, though after I got married and moved away, the relationship with my mother improved tremendously. With my father, it got worse with every passing year.
Now I've noticed something. I don't smell spirits in my home, but twice I've smelled them outside. Recently I smelled a strong perfume scent and asked my son and husband if they could smell it. Neither one could. I have NO idea whose spirit I had sniffed out, as it was unfamiliar, but we were helping to sort rummage at our temple, so it was somebody whose possessions had been donated. Nobody else was in the hall at the time.
Tonight I opened up one of our fabric shopping bags we had bought brand new. We had used it a few times; it has a zipper closure. When I unzipped it, I was assaulted with a sweet, cloying floral smell, like a car air freshener, which we never have used. I'm not sure who that was, but perhaps it was my cat. When my cat Lovey was hit by a car, she just passed before we got to her body. We put her in a white garbage bag and placed her inside the trunk. It was empty, except for her little body. (She had started to bleed, so that's why we had to put her in the bag.) We took her to the vet hospital to get cremated. Guess my little darling did make a brief appearance.
Any readers possess clairolfaction? I hope I don't sound too crazy.
After that, I could tell when she'd been at our apartment watching over him, because the smell would linger there. Oddly, the same day we smelled, his father was taking the dogs for a walk and smelled it in Pennsylvania as well.