The Long Stick

My love for Minorien’s Kyara Ryugen has been documented here before and I recently restocked my second box. But after trying long sticks of a couple of other Minorien scents, both of which made me curious how different the formulas were as I enjoyed them more than I remembered, I was curious what Ryugen would be like in a long stick. I unwrapped my first stick tonight and it just brought up a bunch of questions which kind of relate to the difficulty in reviewing and describing high quality wood incenses over long periods of time. It is both a different incense and then it isn’t. For one thing I think the kyara element of the stick is much more pronounced in the long stick and the sort of dark wood oil in the short stick isn’t quite as strong. The long stick is just as complex, but at times it feels like it hits pockets of really high quality wood that make my head melt. But where I would describe the regular stick as a mix with kyara sort of in the middle of it all, it’s a lot more dominant here. So the question I have is like do the long sticks just take longer to sell and therefore you’re often reaching back to older stock? Does the difference in price (because in many instances the longer stick is more expensive per inch) show that long sticks are often more deluxe and wood heavy? Is it just the way different boxes hit different supplies of wood? I don’t know for sure, but this sweeter more kyara rich version of Kyara Ryugen was a really, really good call. It’s like having two versions of your favorite incense.

14 One of a Kind Japanese Incenses

This article was an idea to have a Top 10 of what I consider one of a kind Japanese incenses in the sense that the 9 incenses and one line (of 5 incenses) would all be scents I consider unique. I thought of this burning selection #2 today. This list is in absolutely no hierarchical order, I just went through and thought of incenses that are so singularly their own that there’s really no other incenses like them, no match in their own line or in other company’s lines. So it features both affordable and highly priced wonders. I didn’t really have time to go through and link to previous reviews to them at least yet (and not all of these have reviews, so there is a first time showing or two), but you can use the search engine to the left to find my years-old impressions of them and in certain cases I give my thoughts here of what I think of them now. Do you know any one of a kind Japanese incenses that aren’t on the list? Please feel free to share them in the comments and discuss!

  1. Kyukyodo/Sho-Ran-Koh (Laughing Orchid) While I largely wanted to avoid a great deal of aloeswood incenses, where either in line or out of line you can usually find something similar in style, I find Sho-Ran-Koh utterly unique in its mix between oils and woods. Like most Japanese incenses I think it has probably taken a minor hit from what it smelled like ten years ago, it’s either my nose or the blend isn’t quite as complicated anymore. But I do think it still really fits the Laughing Orchid name in that the scent has an incredible amount of movement in it and almost playful and joyful quality to it. There’s aloeswood certainly, but the creators of this incense have a completely unique mix of other ingredients on top that made this a one of a kind, there is no incense in its line or any other that quite capture what it does. Even the more premium Kyukyodos I believe are not quite as excellent as this one. It is truly one of the treasures of traditional incense, a prime expression of Japanese art.
    https://www.japanincense.com/ky-0005.html
  2. Kunjudo/Hogetsu What used to be Incense du Monde and then became Florisens I believe still markets this incense as Guiding Light, but the mark up as it sails around the world is quite substantial. I was pleased when Japan Incense began to import this on its own and for a $20 spot which makes it an excellent deal. This is described as a mix of woods and while there’s probably a bit of aloeswood in it, there’s really not enough to make this an aloeswood incense per se, but the blend of woods and oils here gives off an utterly unique, salty and tangy incense that has been a favorite of mine since I first tried it. The fact that it’s not really an aloeswood or a sandalwood incense and yet still remains high quality is very rare in Japanese incense and there’s absolutely nothing else that smells like this that I know of. And I nearly ran out of my Guiding Light box as I discovered it was imported so I can now happily stock this one deep.
    https://www.japanincense.com/kj-0032.html
  3. Tennendo/Propolis – This is a very special incense. It is a modern short-stick sort of deal and you have to spend into the mid 20s but you get a large amount of sticks with a scent that is unlike anything else in incense (I certainly can’t think of any other propolis stick incenses). It’s essentially the resin that bees bring back to build their hives and as such the properties of the wood resins change into a remarkable and rich scent that actually kind of hints at other wood resins while not being close enough to be duplicative. So it’s modern, deep and intense all at once and the aroma is powerful and fills the room really quickly.
    https://www.japanincense.com/tn-0035.html
  4. Shoyeido/Horin (the original line). While I’m technically cheating here given that the newest incense in this line, Shira-kawa, is essentially a variant of Hori-kawa, the five incenses, both stick and coil, in Shoyeido’s original Horin line are remarkable in that they start with vanilla and spice/amber blends but notably tackle a few rare modern aloeswoods of which there are really no other analogs in the field of incense. When I first started restocking, most of these were actually at the top of the list for me. You will find that through Amazon marketplace a lot of these are actually priced cheaper than the Shoyeido going price as well. I’m not sure what my favorite of the five are but I often feel it’s either Hori-kawa because I love the cinnamon in the mix or Muro-machi because it as a very nice caramel-aloeswood blend I’m not sure you can find anywhere else.
    https://www.shoyeido.com/category/horin-incense-coils
  5. Minorien/Kyara Ryugen – Unless you’re looking at one of the really high end purer kyara woods like Baieido Kyara Kokoh, for me Ryugen is the singular and most impressive kyara blend ever made and one of my all time favorite incenses. I don’t think I can match my original review of it, so I’ll point you there. Most kyaras are amazing enough to have very complex personalities but often that complexity actually creates similarities, where in this case there’s an oil mix with the woods that just gives off this unique mystical nightshade sort of ambiance that has as much vibe as good taste.
    https://www.japanincense.com/mn-0020.html
  6. Shoyeido/Premium/Nan-Kun I was glad this incense survived the recent cuts as it’s the one incense where spikenard is a really powerful presence, something you don’t see as much anywhere else. It’s also, of course, a pretty expensive and premium aloeswood incense at the same time, but rather than going for the hoary antique side of things the woodiness presents a balancing act with sweetness in an analogous way to the great Kunmeido Asuka stick while ending up in a completely different area. I actually like this one in tandem with Ga-Ho, as for years I’ve always rotated them in sequence due to how different there are, but it also ends up reminding me that this is really the rarer of the two sticks.
    https://www.shoyeido.com/category/southern-wind
  7. Shoyeido/Xiang-Di/Forest Popular incense companies Shoyeido and Nippon Kodo churn out modern sticks almost as fast as you can keep up with them and many of them are so geared to specific scents that they can often just be aromatically monochromatic and at worse bitter or synthetic smelling. This little gem has always been a favorite to me as its crystal freshness doesn’t have any off notes and captures the fresh feel of a walk through an evergreen forest with a candy touch. It’s no secret I love green incenses whether it’s the Kunmeido’s or Mermade Magical Arts but this presents the scent in a completely different venue and actually succeeds for its build.
    https://www.shoyeido.com/product/xiang-do-forest/xiang-do-incense
  8. Minorien/Kagiku (Chrysanthemum)  I’m not a huge floral fan so my eyes tend to zoom by them in catalogs and it probably zoomed right by this one at some point without noticing that it’s also an aloeswood incense. Also something of a modern scent due to the short, thicker stick, the combination of floral and wood here is something I’ve seen before (probably, I can’t think of any off hand) but certainly not as a Chrysanthemun scent. A sample of this one won me over almost instantly.
    https://www.japanincense.com/mn-0060.html
  9. Kyukyodo/Azusa  Another Kyukyodo gem and perhaps the world’s greatest floral or at least jasmine. Powdery, sweet, not bitter in the slightest with a distinctly pretty scent, I have kept this in stock since I first purchased it. However, I do miss the slim long stick boxes.
    https://www.japanincense.com/ky-0053.html
  10. Japan Incense/Theology/Eucalyptus You can tell by the box and the little inserts inside that this is a Minorien incense marketed for the USA’s finest source of Japanese incense, Japan Incense. Many incenses like this are likely targeted for people who visit off the streets and gravitate to more familiar scents and as everyone in California knows eucalyptus trees are ubiquitous in a way that incenses of that scent really aren’t. I was surprised by this one in a way I wasn’t quite by the Myrrh and Sage in the same line, but still I’m always impressed by Minorien and how brilliant they are, I think maybe four of my favorite incenses are made by this company. This has a nicely polished Eucalptus sense with a bit of richness to it that I was surprised to find and now that it’s in rotation, it’s actually easy to see how different it is from anything else I own.
    https://www.japanincense.com/ji-0002.html

Hello Again!

So I wanted to give a bit of a status update on Olfactory Rescue Service, talk about some random things, maybe a bit of a view on the incense world as it exists in 2021. I have had some thoughts about opening up this website again, although I still haven’t even committed to it myself at this point, there’s a lot of work to do and I’ve sort of begun organizing some of it in a new way.

First of all, I think the really big challenge of updating Olfactory Rescue Service is that incense is a changeable thing. Many of the reviews here are somewhat obsolete. Even if the incenses still exist and are sold, often they are not the same ones that we originally wrote about. Sometimes those changes are massive and wholesale, sometimes they are much slighter. We saw the effects even when this blog was started of the shortage of halmaddi in Indian incenses and the shifts in recipes, particularly in Satya catalog, but I would dare say something like this also happened with the Mother’s nag champas even before we closed up shop. Just imagine feeling like the reviews here of those scents don’t reflect the reality of the incense anymore and also the objective need to go through each one again and so forth. Even the Shroff line changed rather dramatically right before we closed up here and then the source for those also went out of business on the incense front.

Changes to Japanese incense are something I am much more up on having spent the last few months restocking my collection and supply. To my nose the changes are fairly minor although in general I think it’s fair to say that new aloeswood sources change scent profiles. I would dare say in a lot of lines perhaps there has been a change to the ratio of theses woods, like maybe a tapering off of the use of woods. But some of these shortages on the high end woods like kyara have been very profound. We recently heard the news that Shoyeido has deleted their top three kyara incenses and must add even before this the prices on these had skyrocketed to levels, an almost 150% appreciation on the prices they were when ORS was in full swing. While apparently the company has created a new incense in this range that will probably end up being the top incense in the range, these were classics of the incense style and it is very sad to see them go. A similar example is Nippon Kodo who just recently released several high end kyaras again, the top of which goes for nearly $3000 a box.

So in many ways a great deal of the archives really need to be gone over and I’m not quite sure yet how I want to approach this or whether the effort is worth starting, but it is something I have been considering. The second challenge is quite simply one of the reasons I shut this site down. One day I realized I was less involved in reviewing incenses and much more involved in dealing with the behavior of a few people in the scene causing a tremendous amount of drama, not only here but with some of the companies. I will say this, I tried to be fair at the time, if I open it up again the culling of this activity will essentially be ruthless. The good 80% of commenters here (I have to save 15% in addition to this having to remove endless companies thinking they could just use this place for free advertising) were wonderful and welcome but what is really obvious if you moderate a site like this is there are always a few bad apples who you can see coming a mile a way and if you can see them you know reasoning with them isn’t going to help. I am a believer in civility, debate, genial disagreement, and the idea that everyone has their own valid and subjective opinions on what they like or don’t. And again I really don’t like to have to say any of this because most of our readers are great and always have been. But I do not have the time to babysit and conversations about companies and service and those areas are just not going to be OK here anymore.

So over the last few years I also haven’t let comments through, even a lot of very nice ones. It’s always been somewhat ironic to me that our blog subscriber list probably doubled in the time we were closed. I am going to consider letting comments come through on this thread only with the caveat that I might not be able to respond to them all. The WordPress interface always changes and I’m not entirely sure even if the current settings will allow me to vet them and so on and so forth and as this is just sort of interim post, I’ll just deal with the issues as they arise. Thanks to everyone who has take the time to comment and collaborate and hopefully this will lead to seeing some old and new friends alike.

Olfactory Rescue Service is closed.

This is just a quick note to all subscribers and readers that Olfactory Rescue Service has been closed for years and is unlikely to open again. I do tend to get comments and emails still, but I don’t generally let them through or answer them. The incense community has radically changed since the site was open and a great deal of the reviews here are really no longer valid as it’s quite common for a company to create good incense for a while and then change to cheaper ingredients that don’t reflect the scents when they were originally reviewed. Companies come and go. Anyway I wish old readers well, but if anyone is not getting a response they expected this is why. All the best. – Mike

Two Incense “grab boxes” for sale [SOLD]

Boxes have been sold. Thanks for those who write in. – Mike

Hi everyone. First of all, I wanted to mention that ORS is still closed. The site has actually had quite a few comments since I closed it down, but I haven’t really had the time or head space to decide what to do with them as I really don’t want to open things up again. I am not doing reviews any more and don’t really foresee a future where things will change. I think the connections and support system that used to help keep ORS a going concern years back don’t exist in the same way anymore and it’s just too complicated to sort out and rejuvenate. Incense changes with the seasons and the old reviews probably related to what you can buy less and less. I am posting however because I have been cleaning house and have two incense grab boxes I’d like to sell if anyone wants them. They are basically a mix of various styles and origins and although most of the items have been sampled in some way, they probably retailed close to $75-$100. I am offering two boxes for $25 each, inclusive of shipping in the US. Please contact me at the e-mail address on the About page (I’m Mike) or leave me a comment (they will not be posted here but I will see them) if you want either or both. They are definitely priced to move. All the best to everyone.

ORS on break.

Hello all. For the time being I will closing Olfactory Rescue Service. There are a number of reasons why I am doing this, but the main reason is that things have changed over the years and with a few exceptions there hasn’t been much in the way of new content. This has more or less produced a situation where my role has become one of moderator, often dealing with off-site issues, often political, which are not rewarding and that I can’t really give my full attention to. I may open it at a later time. To all readers, writers and commenters, thanks all for your input and work through the lifetime of the site. All the best to everyone and happy holidays! – Mike

Gyokushodo’s new Nerikoh – Kusa no To, Hanafuna, Shiun

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Its been a while since I wrote a review! I have been trying to reign in my budget a bit by going through my existing stockpiles before purchasing anything new, but I had the opportunity to try Gyokushodo’s new line up of nerikoh offerings earlier today thanks to Kotaro-san from Japan Incense.

On first analysis all three blends contain the typical Ume-gaka style ingredients, including camphor, clove, cassia and agar wood. They each start off with a blast of camphor and clove, and then settle down into a sour plum fragrance, and eventually wrapping up with a nice woody agarwood aroma. The difference in the three though is the concentration of ingredients. Whereas Kusa no To is the lowest price point of the three, it is obvious it has less of the key ingredients than the next two up the line, and does not project as much. Hanafuna ups the game a bit, and Shiun does that but also seems to have extra agar wood added to it.

Interview with Anna Pach/Masahiko Kikuya from Kikuya Seishindo and Kohgen

Olfactory Rescue Service is delighted to bring to you an interview with Anna Pach, who works at Kikuya Seishindo/Kohgen in Japan. The questions in this interview come from myself and several of our readers who left questions in a previous thread. As time goes by, we at ORS have been noticing that the Japanese incense market has been opening up to the west and we figured there could not be a better time to learn more directly from the source. – Mike

Hello Anna, could you introduce yourself to us? (Where you work and what your position is.)

Hello ORS Readers! First of all I would like to thank each one of you for the questions and to Mike who gave us the opportunity to make this interview. I think he had a great idea on building a bridge between Japan and the West to spread knowledge about Japanese incense to all incense lovers! The questions have been answered with the consultation of Mr. Masahiko Kikuya – the owner of Kikuya Seishindo (Kohgen) company.

My name is Anna. I was born in Poland, in the middle of Europe. I got interested in Japanese culture and language when I was a teenager. Since that time I was dreaming about studying Japanese at university and hoped to go to Japan one day. I managed to make my dreams come true and entered Japanese Studies at Jagiellonian University – one of the oldest universities in the world. Then I traveled to Japan several times. During my studies I also practiced Japanese Way of Tea (Urasenke school) for five years. I wanted to find a job close to the traditional Japanese culture, so I was looking for an internship in Japan. I found the Kikuya Seishindo company, which runs Kohgen, a Japanese store which specializes mainly in Japanese incense, but also provides traditional Japanese prayer beads (ojuzu), Kodo (“Way of Incense”) utensils, incense ingredients, hand made Japanese candles, fragrant bags, bath essence and other fragrant goods. The name “Kohgen” (香源) literary means Source of Incense, but I think that the translation Source of Fragrance reflects better the variety of our products available.

Our English site for individual Customers is called Kohgen World (http://kohgenworld.jugemcart.com/).

How did you come to get a job selling incense in Japan given where you’re from? How many languages do you speak?

After I finished my half-year internship at Kohgen, I received a job offer. I was still a student at that time, so I had to return to Poland to graduate. After that I went back to Japan this year and became a full time worker here at Kohgen. Today I work as a translator and international marketing manager. My mother tongue is Polish, but I speak English and Japanese as well. During my education I also studied French, German and Chinese, but I`m not speaking them on a daily basis, so I cannot say I`m fluent. I just know some basics 🙂

What is a typical day at the job like?

Each day at Kohgen is different and filled with different fragrance! I learn a lot everyday, as we have over 5,000 products! Of course there is also a day schedule, which contains morning meetings, cleaning of our workspaces, one-hour breaks, business meetings etc. Every day I`m answering e-mails, serving our international customers, preparing goods for shipment and of course translating product descriptions and data about the incenses, designing graphics and web-pages, managing our Facebook and Instagram profiles.

What are the challenges like for you in terms of communicating with customers all over the world in different languages?

As you said, our customers are spread all over the world, and I communicate with them mainly in English (sometimes in Japanese, if they speak in Japanese to me, if for example they have Japanese roots). I`m aware that sometimes communicating in English is hard for people whose mother tongue is different, especially when I`m not a native speaker too. Knowing that I try to adjust my words to be easy to understand even by people who are not very fluent in English. Of course, people all over the world have different accents, so sometimes it`s hard to understand well and fast on the phone, but I`m doing my best to provide the best service. Another thing are time zones, but this is another topic.

Does your company just market incense or does it also have its own line of incenses?

Kohgen provides incense of almost all Japanese makers for both individual customers and for wholesale orders. We are not an incense maker, but we have our own original Kohgen line of incense which was created by our owner.

Recently the most popular ones are:

Original Kohgen Incense Classical Agarwood (you can find it on our Kohgen World English site here: http://kohgenworld.jugemcart.com/?pid=1559618)

Kohgen Incense Sticks, Sumi (Ink) (available here: http://kohgenworld.jugemcart.com/?pid=1559616)

CREATING INCENSE

What are the requirements for hiring a Japanese incense maker? Is there a name for the job?

A person who is responsible for creating fragrance and compounding the incense ingredients is called in Japanese chogo-shi or chokoh-shi, which may be translated simply as a perfumer, or to elaborate more: a master of compounding aromatic materials.

A person who is producing incense in terms of creating its shape is called an incense making craftsman.

The requirements for hiring a Japanese incense maker differ depending on a company, so the best way to know them in detail is to contact a particular incense maker.

Are there precedents for non-Japanese incense makers or is the work strictly kept to nationals? Do Westerners ever get hired as incense makers in Japan?

I think that there are no precedents for non-Japanese to work as an incense maker, but to work in Japan you have to clear many documents and procedures, so it`s not easy to get such job. Incense making recipes are the secrets of the companies, so they are not revealed.

But if you study a lot and do many trial and errors you can learn how to make a good incense. I have never heard about Western person who is working as an incense maker in Japan.

What do you think the dominant trend is in Japanese incense? Do you see Japanese incense evolving for the time or do you see it adhering more to tradition?

In general, half of the Japanese incense market is Less Smoke Type incense and the second half is ordinary smoke type. At Kohgen stores in Japan, over 90% of incense sold are those which have a clear fragrance or produce smoke. Over 70% incense sold are traditional fragrances.

There are family Buddhist altars at homes in Japan, so incenses are burned regularly. People who lives in Japanese apartments prefer using Less Smoke Type incense, so as not to disturb the neighbors – I think this is a popular trend. Except for that, a lot of people are burning incense as a hobby, so those are trying all kinds and types. Another one is to enjoy the fragrances which refer to the ongoing season.

There are also Less Smoke Type incenses, but with strong, deep and fragrance despite their low smoke – this is also one of the trends in Japan.

Are incense makers given free reign or are they presented with certain parameters (price point, type of incense, use of specific ingredients, etc.) that they are required to follow?

Incense makers can create them freely, which means it’s up to them regarding the parameters you provided. Raw materials used by Japanese incense makers are approved by IFRA (International Fragrance Association), so they are also checked in terms of safety.

EXPORTING INCENSE

What have been the challenges for Japanese incense makers breaking into the international markets? How long have you been selling to American and other customers?

The biggest challenge for Japanese incense makers is language. There are a lot of people who like Japanese incense abroad, but the makers need to make a great effort to introduce their incense to the international market.

In Japan, incense is used to relax, to help focus or for meditation, but of course it can also be used the same way abroad. To export the incense, the suppliers need to deal with many obstacles like, for example, shipping fees.

Kohgen sells worldwide and has provided English support since 2014.

In regard to the North American market, does the company have plans to change its product range, marketing, and customer education? How has the company changed from its experiences selling over here?

We would like to introduce Japanese incense as it is to all people around the world, so we do not change the products range. Regarding marketing and customer education, we are making the product descriptions in English more detailed to introduce and explain various aspects of Japanese culture. For example, there are a lot of traditional Japanese patterns on incense burners. One of them is called sho-chiku-bai (松竹梅). When a Japanese person sees the Japanese characters, he/she knows immediately that the pattern is a combination of pine, bamboo and plum. Not everyone abroad knows that, so I believe that additional explanations are relevant.

Another example is, that when we are adding samples to the parcels, international customers who cannot read Japanese would not be able to know the incense name, brand and fragrance just by looking on the package. Because of that we decided to number the samples packages and attach a sample list, which has incense brands, names and fragrances written according to the numbers on the samples we send. Thanks to that our customers can easily find the incense they received as a sample from us.

To sum up, we are adjusting our services to answer our international customers needs and to make Japanese incense more understandable and approachable for them.

INCENSE

What are some of your best selling incenses in Japan? In the US?

In general, the best selling incense series in Japan is Seiun and Mainichi Koh (Everyday Incense) which are available at many department stores or supermarkets. Kohgen is the incense specialist shop where you can find a wide variety of incense and find your personal, favorite one.

The best selling incense series at Kohgen stores in Japan are: Gyokushodo brand Kojurin series, Kunjudo brand Karin series, Baieido brand Kobunboku series, Nippon Kodo Kyara Taikan series.

In the US the most popular series are: Shoyeido Horikawa and Kinkaku series, Kyukyodo Six Kinds of Fragrant Woods (Rokushu Takimono), Nippon Kodo from Mainichi-koh up to Kyara Taikan series. Kneaded incense (nerikoh) from Shoyeido and Kyukyodo are also popular.

Are modern incenses more popular now?

Modern incenses are popular, but traditional fragrances are popular as well. Incense arrived in Japan about 1500 years ago and has been used since, so traditional fragrances are still popular today.

What is the general price range of good-quality (NOT high-quality agarwood) Japanese incense?

The average price of good-quality incense is 5000 JPY (approx. $49.62) for an economic bulk pack (approx. 400 sticks).

Is all nice japanese incense either sandalwood or agarwood, or are there other types of scents that are considered really nice?

Sandalwood and Agarwood are the fundamental incense ingredients, but there are also another raw aromatic materials. They are used to supplement and reinforce the fragrance. Through mixing the ingredients in different proportions many various blends and fragrances can be created. Incense ingredients used 1500 years ago are still used to this day.

There is a very interesting incense called Wakaba (Daihatsu is the maker). This is the incense which is available on Japanese market for a very long time. It was created from Rozan Sandalwood from Mysore and French perfumes to make an impression of Young Leaves – this is how you can translate this incense name. The incense was very popular among previous generation of Japanese people, so it is a very nostalgic fragrance for today’s generation. I think that this nostalgic for Japanese incense may be a very nice discover for people abroad.

What else is out there that is very different from the traditional agarwood and sandalwood based incenses?

There are a lot of fragrances very different from traditional agarwood- and sandalwood-based incense. For example various flowers scents, perfumed scents or even drink fragrances (like coffee, green tea, black tea etc.). New fragrances are moving along with the times and people’s needs.

What are your personal favorite incenses? What would be your favorite incenses if you had unlimited money?

High price does not mean the best incense. Of course, for example the incenses made by Nippon Kodo worth about 2 thousands USD are great without fail, but each maker has its highest quality incense and all of them are wonderful. There are many great ones like Kyara Enju (Seijudo maker), Kyara Kokoh (Baieido maker), En no Sho (Gyokushodo maker).

Whether incense is good or bad depends on the ingredients quality, blending technique, but the most important is ones personal taste. The same way we like some dishes and foods us the same way we like fragrances. We may even come across our favorite incense by complete accident and fell in love with it. Because of that I would like to encourage you to try as many as possible and find your own favorite one.

Can you recommend a few good books on the history of incense in Japan?

In Japanese there are many books, but if you are learning Japanese and looking for something good, then I can recommend the book called 『よく分かるお香とお線香の教科書』(“Easy to understand Japanese Incense Handbook”). It is great for two reasons: one is that it was written by top famous Japanese incense companies and second, it is in a form of dialogue, so it is easy to read and understand.

If you don`t know Japanese, then I would recommend “The Book of Incense” written by Kiyoko Morita with the cooperation of Shoyeido. It is complex, easy to understand and written by Japanese of profound knowledge about Japanese incense and its history.

Both titles include information on the history of incense in Japan.

What five incenses could you recommend to a newcomer?

It is extremely hard to recommend only five as you cannot try many fragrances within this number. Instead of that I would like to introduce you the way to find your favorite fragrance by trying many incense without wasting your money and time:

STEP 1

Try Kohgen Original Trial Kit – it contains 20 different incenses, 2 sticks per each. There are 10 Japanese style and 10 European style fragrances. English explanations are included in the kit, thanks to which you can easily understand the incenses names and brands.

You can find Kohgen Original Trial Kit here:  http://kohgenworld.jugemcart.com/?pid=1628476

STEP 2

After you know to some extend which fragrances you like, then try the trial size packages and assortment packages of your favorites brands.

STEP 3

When you know your best choices, then you can use economical bulk packs. If you want you can also change the fragrance and start over.

INGREDIENTS

Can you comment on the future of agarwood content and quality, and how are old companies dealing with formula changes and demands?

Throughout the years people learned more about agarwood. It is possible to cultivate it now to some extent, although it takes time to get a high quality wood. The more time passes the better quality it becomes, that is why it’s very expensive and it needs to be saved. There is still an issue with Kyara, the highest quality agarwood, of which it is not yet known how to cultivate. Incense makers are keeping those precious ingredients stored and use them with a great care and consideration. They are adjusting the ingredients compounding according to current times and customers’ needs by producing new incense or stopping to produce some items.

Are there similar issues with sandalwood or other ingredients?

Sandalwood is crucial for incense making, so it is also secured and used with a great care. There are similar issues with other very rare incense ingredients which cannot be easily obtained.

How is Japan adapting to international laws protecting endangered species and how has that changed the incense market?

International laws prohibit the export of raw Agarwood outside Japan, but incense sticks including Agarwood as an ingredient can be shipped. I think this is the way how Japan has adapted to the international laws and this is the factor which changes the market.

Any last words?

Incense has been used in Japan from long ago, but it is not yet widely spread abroad. Kohgen would like to introduce the goodness of Japanese incense for as many people as possible and also spread the knowledge about them. Our company motto is: “To spread the culture of Japanese incense to all people and to the future.” We would like to put it through and reach as many incense lovers and future fans as possible.

Thank you very much for reading this interview and your interest in Japanese incense! I hope that you had a chance to learn something new. If you are interested and would like to stay updated, feel free to join us on:

・Facebook (Kikuya Seishindo) https://www.facebook.com/KikuyaSeishindo/

or

・Instagram (kohgen_world) https://www.instagram.com/kohgen_world/

You can also visit our English site here: http://kohgenworld.jugemcart.com/

Thank you!

 

Discussions about retailers

on Olfactory Rescue Service are closed until further notice. Thanks!

A few things…

First of all, thanks to everyone who has posted questions for Anna Pach. I’m going to leave the window open a little longer, but over the next couple of weeks I will be coming up with some of my own and then sending all of them to her. Please check the post downstream a bit if you haven’t had a chance to see it, and I encourage everyone to leave a question.

Second, I need to remind of some guidelines here. I’ve mentioned before that I closed the window on criticisms of Essence of the Ages in a previous thread, so this is a reminder that in particular if you’re a new poster and all you’re here for is to shoot off a complaint and then bolt, I’m not inclined to pass it by our filter. I think by this point there are plenty of back and forths on that particular issue in that thread, enough for people to make up their minds on whether to purchase from this company. The best we can do at this point is to note that we allowed the debate to go on for quite a while and that it is now over. It is not ORS’s job to resolve complaints with a company.

Third, if you are a business and you aren’t seeing your post come through on ORS it’s very likely that you’re not following the rules of etiquette here. If you want visibility for your business, the last thing you should be posting is (for example) how you can’t wait to translate ORS and put our articles on your page or creating a response to a reader’s comment that is entirely based on garnering business from it (PARTICULARLY when it sells products that are protected by CITES). Please consider that the best way to introduce yourselves to me is to use the About page and contact me through the information there, as I’m happy to chat with you and get to know you. In many ways this is a simple gauntlet to run because if you haven’t taken the time to go through our information pages, then you can’t really expect us to take the time to feature you here.  As a service to our readers we are careful who we add to the links and like to get some idea that people are happy with your business first before we can recommend them.

Also, if you’re leaving a comment the site is moderated. So if the same post is posted in different threads multiple times, only one will be passed through.

Thanks for reading!

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