Incense (9) – More recent scents

Many people seem to feel incense is a hippy thing, patchouli oil for the deadheads, maybe something to pick up up from a gas station or convenience store to cover up dope. But like the Dead themselves, casual exposure tends to only reveal the worst aspects of either, bad charcoal punks with most of the essential (or worse, synthetic) oils dissipated, offputting sandalwood dhoops, incense dressed up the resemble synthetic perfumes and the like.

I’m finding, in my family at least, that exposure to the really good incense tends to make believers out of just about everyone. Had a very neat time yesterday with my folks and my nephews exploring various scents and watched it grow from something like curiosity to real interest on everyone’s parts, especially when you emphasize the subjectivity of what scents each person might actually like. Suffice it to say, my oldest nephew (around 5 yrs old) took a few sticks home with him. I wonder if he can covert mom?

A few new things showed up, most of which impressed across the board. I got a box of the New Morning Star blend called Earth (mid page), made up of black currant, chocolate and cinnamon. Very interesting overall, it felt like at times I’d get one of the three scents more than the others, but overall it seemed more of a chocolate kind of base, similar to the Cafe Time mocha cones I mentioned in my last incense post.

My first entry into Nippon Kodo’s Kayuragi line (bottom page) was their Pomegranate incense which impressed everyone in the room within five seconds of the light. Gloriously fruity with a hint of that sour pomegranate note, it was a great contrast to the woods and resins and definitely made me want to check out the rest of their line, especially since the packaging, with the little wooden box is so nice.

Speaking of packaging, the little book gift sets that come in various scents, also through Nippon Kodo, are something I mentioned when talking about Kyara Taikan last post, this time I got in Kyara Kongo (bottom of page) and Mori No Koh/Scents of Forest (also bottom). The Kyara Kongo particularly impressed me, it’s a less premium blend than the Taikan, but I liked it almost as much. At the price I found it hard to believe there would be kyara in it, but like Taikan there seems to be a note of it. So anyone wondering what it might be like at half the usual price is encouraged to check these blends out.

The Mori No Koh set is actually three different scents, and thanks to this page, I figured out which scent is which as my kanji is rather poor. Basically fir, Japanese cypress and conifer. The cypress like many hinoki blends is perhaps a bit too subtle and featureless for my tastes, but the other two were absolutely outstanding scents, and as the whole family loves piney, evergreen christmas like smells, these two went over really well.

And last but not least, I got a box of Shoyeido’s premium Shun-Yo (also bottom – picture is not of the box I got), the cheapest in the line that comes with a neat silk box, really beautifully presented. I’m not quite sure I’m ready to tackle the brilliance of any of their premium line right off the bat, as the complexity and depth of these incenses really makes them the apex of scent. Many of them are somewhat masala-like (in terms of a blend of spices used often for cooking) on the top note, only for the aloeswood to come through a split second later and show you just how brilliant the creators of these blends are.

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