Kyara (Incense (3))

Check this out. And then when I say I’m actually, passively, every so slightly considering checking it out that it’s just my way of expressing just how awesome kyara is. OK, first off, kyara is basically the highest grade of aloeswood, it’s one of the most expensive substances known to humankind, more precious than gold. Apparently incense companies and other wealthy connoissuers send scouting parties into the wilds of Southeast Asia just to find an aloeswood tree whose wood is so resinated that it would be of this high grade.

Anyway, most kyara, especially the pure stuff, is outside of my price range at the moment, but I was fortunate to come across the Shoyeido Premium sampler. It contains fifteen sticks of the Japanese variety, that is, no bamboo sticks, just the pure blend in a thin, very breakable stick. Only three of these fifteen blends contain kyara and if you do a little research you find out that this $19.95 sampler’s cost was probably 85% for the three kyara blends. Eight sticks (still a sampler pack) of Sho-Kaku costs about $60. Eight of Myo-Ho costs $48. Eight of Go-Un costs $38. You don’t really want to know about the regular boxes, although I do covet them deeply now.

Anyway, these three different blends aren’t pure kyara, but there’s no doubt from the incredible presence of these incenses that kyara is the God(dess) of Incense and the sandalwood is actually the second greatest aromatic wood in the world. If great Indian incense is so many steps above the usual synthetic and nasty stuff you often find in stores, and if high quality aloeswood is at least on par to Indian Incense, kyara blends are totally out of the ballpark. It honestly felt like invocation rather than combustion as I’d light one of these sticks and wave the smoke my way, like something ancient and noble had just materialized in the room. Myrrh was the first thing I thought of and definitely the better quality myrrh, but that’s just a rough comparison, kyara is far more multidimensional. The three wisemen who visited Baby Jesus were cheapskates to bring gold with their frankincense and myrrh.

A sign of great incense for me is when I catch the scent of it long after I’m anywhere near the stuff. Only one incense ever did that for me, a resin blend I called Shamanic Dreams which I discussed in one of the last write-ups. These three kyara blends do that and more, more because where I’d catch whiffs of SD, it was a more narrow experience, I’d just smell SD. But kyara is so complex it feels like I catch hints of it, hints from all the blends and then subsections of these blends. The experience is so intense that all sorts of things evoke it after the fact as if a new sense had opened up in my head.

With the sampler I managed to grab several grades of Vietnamese aloeswood and a couple Malaysian and Indonesian ones as well. While all are amazing incenses, they’re almost a world away from kyara and I almost felt myself trying to detect that hint of it in the higher grades. My three kyara sticks are slowly dwindling to smoke and dust while making so many of my old favorites seem nearly obsolete in the process.

Of course, hyping this up is likely to lead to disappointment, I think in some ways incense is like any other hobby where it takes a bit of research and experience to pinpoint what you like, so I’d probably recommend checking out basic aloeswood and sandalwood first. The price of kyara is likely to keep most away, but if you’re an appreciator of fine scent, it’ll only be a matter of time before you give in and let kyara take your soul. It’s no wonder there’s an entire area of interest given to incense games and the appreciation of aloeswood.



  1. Mike said,

    May 22, 2007 at 6:50 am

    Thanks for the link and comments, Kerry, that agarwood at Scented Mountain looks worth trying for sure. Looks like I should hunt for your book too.

  2. Kerry said,

    May 21, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Aloeswood is indeed amazing! Check out this company, they are the first to sell sustainable Aloeswood, as a professor of forest pathology has learned how to infect the trees and ge them to product aloeswood like trees in nature:

    Kerry Hughes
    Author of The Incense Bible
    Founder of

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