Seijudo’s Enju, Seiran & Shiragiku ( from Ross )

Seijudo has been involved with incense since the mid 1800s. Much of it, apparently, as suppliers of raw materials. Judging from the quality of these three incenses they must have saved up some pretty deep stock piles of materials to use in making their own sticks.

Quite simply put these are amazing, two of them, the Kyara Enju and the Kyara Seiran are heavily Kyara based with that oh so wonderful smell in great abundance. The third, Shiragiku, I would have bet was also Kyara, but Kotaro at Kohshi has said this is not the case. It is however a great Aloeswood. I have seen incense shops write ups from Japan that wildly praise this line, with good reason. As one of my motorcycle friends says ” Man, these just RIP!”

Kyara Enju (Long Life) This has the classic Kyara scent in huge quantity as well as quality. Rich, deep and multi-leveled, not something for the casual moment, rather something to focus on and just let it take you away( why yes, there are aspects of the way of incense that are quite similar to the way of the stoner :o  ) Really this is superb. It is pretty much what most of use have been taught to be the “real” or “best” Kyara scent. A little goes a long way, very potent. Not to be missed.

There are a lot of comparisons that can be made with Shoyeido’s Sho-kaku (Translucent Path). To my nose they seem very much alike. But since I do not have a stick of Sho-kaku handy I will have to rely on memory. In Japan this seems to win out, but I do not think my nose is so well trained or sensitive to be able to tell which might be “better”, which is most likely a personal preferences call.

Kyara Seiran (Heavenly Orchard) Perhaps a bit lighter in scent ( but not much ) with tons of that Kyara/musk perfume mixed together with a huge wood presence. Somewhat easier to deal with in that it is not quite as dominating as the Enju. Still captivating though, something to be savored for a special moment. There is mention of different kinds of Kyara in this mix, purples and yellows besides the green. Having never knowingly smelled any of them (in other words, that were labled as such) I can not say for sure. But whatever, it is a really beautiful mix and borders on being psychoactive.

Shiragiku (White Chrysanthemum) This is, in some ways, the most interesting to me. When I first smelled this I assumed it was Kyara based. Kotaro at Kohshi says its aloeswood ( and since he is and can read Japanese I am going with his call ). That being said, there is a very distinct resemblance to the two Kyaras mentioned above, for a lot less money. It is a little less smooth, not as strong yet still really good and very lovely. A great buy and a really classic scent. I highly recommend this one, especially as a place to start your journey into high end Japanese incenses.

I read a review from a store in Japan that said basically this company had decided to make these with the best materials they could get for as long as the supply held out. These are all really wonderful and priced so one can actually afford them, especially the Shiragiku (White Chrysanthemum). Thank you Kohshi for bring this into the US!

-Ross

About these ads

14 Comments

  1. greg said,

    September 27, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    to understand the different grades of kyara one first has to understand the japanese penchant for understatement and subtlety. it is not necessarily the strongest smelling kyara that is most sought after but the kyara that has a scent profile that will lend itself to being cut successfully with other woods/spices and whose scent will dissipate quickly like a pleasant dream one has had the night before. it is this ethereal quality that buyers look for when they vie for exceptional lots. i would guess that the chief question for the expert incense blender would be “how can i bring the kyara to its full potential by making the kyara less cloying and bitter by cutting it with other softening elements so that the desirable undertones are accentuated?” shoyeido’s shokaku is a masterful example of this ‘dilution’ so that what you have is a very soft and subtle burn with almost no bitterness and no tenacious afterscent. i think that’s why classifying something like the seijudo line is so difficult for non-experts. in part, you are paying for the skill of the incense blender in every stick(as well as the constantly escalating kyara market!) there are correlates in art where the skill of the artist commands a high price whether he/she makes sketches on a napkin or on a huge canvas.

  2. greg said,

    September 24, 2010 at 10:52 am

    i used to manufacture church incense under the marque “Holy Mountain Brand” and so have encountered innumerable incense types and aromas. one thing should be remembered, a product that costs 5 times more than the base product is most often NOT 5 times better, but only incrementally better; those increments sometimes being, very, very small. this is the situation with the various kyara grades and seijudo incense is a concrete example of what i mean. all of the line is exceptional from shiragiku to the enju and you probably would be able to tell the shiragiku from the enju in a blind smell test, but i doubt anyone would consistently be able to distinguish the shiragiku from most of the lower end of the line. the difficulty is teasing out the non-kyara elements so as to be able to judge the quantity and quality of just the kyara – that is really what you are paying the premium for. to find the blend that suits you, purchase a sampler pack and have someone reference each stick with a number. then mix up the sticks and burn each one for a few seconds in different areas of your room or even house. select the scent that appeals to you the most. make sure there are no residual cooking/perfume/deodorant/soap fragrances floating around before you do this and also do not eat or use any mouthwash/toothpaste an hour before the “experiment”. i bet that at least half the time you will select a less expensive stick as the one you prefer.

    • glennjf said,

      September 27, 2010 at 12:27 am

      to find the blend that suits you, purchase a sampler pack and have someone reference each stick with a number. then mix up the sticks and burn each one for a few seconds in different areas of your room or even house.

      Cool idea and an excellent way to go about things, thanks for that Greg.
      I just checked out the current Seijudo Samplers on offer at Essence of the Ages and added them to my wishlist not sure I’ll be able to afford them anytime soon.

      On the upside I do have a single stick of Seijudo Shiragiku I’ve been lighting and extinguishing on and off for weeks now, it’s beautiful gear and for sure that incense is already a part of my list.

    • clairsight said,

      September 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm

      Good suggestions Greg, especially for this series as they seem to use very similar “base” ingredients.
      DO you still make incense?

      • greg said,

        September 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm

        hi clairsight, unfortunately, i do not make incense anymore as it was so labor intensive mixing the essential oils and the frankincense resins according to the athonite methods. i chuckle to myself when i think what japanese mfrs. would have to charge for this process and quality of incense…way more than what they charge for most kyara blends for sure.

  3. March 29, 2010 at 8:37 am

    [...] The first time I tried Seijudo’s Enju, one of three new Seijudo imports Ross reviewed here, I actually thought I was trying a sample form of Shoyeido’s Shokaku. Like that venerable and [...]

  4. C.J. said,

    December 22, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Ah, the Shiragiku (White Crysanthemum)–medium reminders of resiny Cambodian and Indonesian Agarwood. Seiran (Heavenly Orchid) is sweeter, stronger. Enju (Long Life) is deeper, sharper, balanced. Enjoyed all of ‘em…putting $ in the $ jar :)

    ~~ C.J.

    • Ross Urrere said,

      December 22, 2009 at 1:10 am

      Yes, these are really good, and there may be some others coming in next year. Enu is truly potent and wonderful and they all seem to be a big hit also in Japan. My fantasy is a temple length stick that i can just enjoy and not think about the price :)
      -Ross

  5. koinu7 said,

    July 10, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Just received my sampler from EOTA and love it! I can’t believe Shiragiku doesn’t have Kyara in it. It somewhat reminds me of Shunkodo’s Seikan. This is going to be a good weekend :) Dana

    • Mike said,

      July 13, 2009 at 8:22 am

      Yes, these seem to be a bit lost in the mix given how many great Indian incenses have just hit our shores, but enough can’t be said about how truly great all three of the Seijudos are. And I have to agree with you (and Ross) that there are kyara-ish tinges with Shiragiku even though it appears not have any. And at its price it makes it a really fantastic buy. Superlative Japanese incense.

  6. Mike said,

    June 29, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I tried the Shiragiku over the weekend, it’s a scent well above its price level in quality. I’d say these three Seijudos are all at the very same quality level overall yet the price differences certainly make the Shiragiku the best deal. But all are fabulous and certainly like cousins to the Shoyeido premium line.

  7. Mumon said,

    June 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I got these wonderful samples from Japan incense…this stuff is very very good, but it’s not Infinity or Translucent Path…but it’s very very good, and for my money, Kyara Seiran is the better of the two.

    But they are wonderful, wonderful. The memory of the scent…this is stuff that works in the primitive regions of the brain…

  8. Mike said,

    June 17, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I think Bernd does a nice job differentiating Shokaku from Enju and they are indeed so close for there to be more similarities than differences. But one huge difference, per inch Shokaku will run you $2.31. Enju: $1.76 and that’s a significant difference, it means they’ve brought down a classic into more people’s price ranges at $199 for 24 sticks. Yet another brilliant move by Kotaro and Jay. :)

    As to the different colored kyaras, I’ve always felt those were splitting hairs as I don’t think I’ve ever tried a kyara I didn’t like (Myo-Ho is always a show stopper no matter who you’re sharing it with), but I know Baieido uses green kyara in their Koh Shi Boku and have always felt it had a note the others kyaras don’t, something almost camphorous and ethereal. I honestly wonder if any aloeswood with oil in it could capture that note since it’s so fleeting.

    Anyway, great stuff Ross, I know exactly what you mean about the psychoactivity of aloeswood when it gets into these realms. Can’t wait to try other two here.

  9. Bernd Sandner said,

    June 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Ross,

    hope you are well!
    I have been busy dreaming, and enjoying getting lost in the floating world.
    That’s why i have not been busy writing.

    The Kyara Enju, which I got from you, I love very much. Thanks again for that!
    I still have a little piece left, and still burn it half inch by half inch.

    I also think there are strong similarities to Shoyeido Sho-Ka-Ku and Go-Un.
    I don’t know, if it is the Kyara, or the composition.
    After trying and comparing it many times, it is hard to capture my impressions in words. Maybe the Sho-Ka-Ku is more dense. As if there was a little bit of smoke harshness left in the Kyara Enju.
    If I would not have known, that it was Kyara Enju, I would have guessed, it was one of the Shoyeido top sticks, unknown to me.
    But anyway, to me it belongs to the great incences.

    Your words about the Shiragiku make me curious. This one I will put on my future ordering list.

    Thanks for the review, and best to you, Ross!
    And best to all at ORS! Bernd


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 414 other followers

%d bloggers like this: