I don’t think I can recommend Baieido Kai un Koh (bottom) more, I think it’s going to become a favorite. It’s got that sour or tangy aloeswood scent with a healthy spice content and I’m not sure there’s any combo I like better. I got another sample of Baieido’s Kaden Kobunboku (about half way down) and was a lot more impressed this time around. That’s the best thing I can say about Baieido’s incense, it just gets better with experience.
But onto a few others. Got a box of Keiunko. A rather huge roll of a very green-ish sort of aloeswood blend, a nice combo of the wood, the floral and an almost sweet patchouli-like vibe. It’s a really great incense, one I’m enjoying more as I get to know it. Apparently there are quite a few incenses by smaller companies well worth checking out.
One rather small Japanese company, at least in that they only have 9 or 10 different incenses is Kyukyodo. I’ve only tried their (rather fantastic) Shiun blend, but I picked up what I believe are the two cheapest sandalwood incenses in the line, Ikaruga and Shirohato. Both are very close with the latter, supposedly, a more refined version of the former. It was, a little, but I generally though both were very close. For about $5 a roll, the Ikaruga is a very nice and affordable sandalwood blend, certainly comparable or better with other “every day” green-colored sandalwoods.
I also grabbed a few other rolls in this vein, very affordable sandalwood blends. My favorite was probably the Kokando Rangetsu which I thought was a bit better than most incenses in that range, a very alluring and subtle sandalwood. Kunmeido Byakudankoh (both are last on page) is a red, rather than green stick and seems rather highly floral for an every day sandalwood. At times I thought it was maybe a bit too sweet, and others I thought it was quite nice. The Eisenko (second on page), in comparison, one of the cheapest sandalwoods on the market, didn’t strike me as being much better than, say, Nippon Kodo’s Mainichi-Koh, in fact it didn’t even have that sort of impact.
I picked up a couple of Shoyeido items, the first a box of the second in their premium line, the Ohjya-Koh or King’s Aroma (second down). I didn’t expect this to be terribly impressive, I liked the stick in the sampler package, but found it, like the entire line, to be a lot more revealing with a longer burn. It doesn’t have the intense aloeswood depth of the rest of the line but is pretty complex in its own right and is certainly a (relatively) affordable way to check out a premium incense. I also ordered some sticks of the Horin/Nijo line, which I already have in coils and love, but my recent attention to woodsier Baieido blends is making some of these seem a bit more perfumy than usual. There’s a really nice vanilla/damp scent in Nijo that makes it quite impressive for being the most affordable in that line.
The last item, not Japanese but Tibetan, was a close-out price of five Sonam rolls (5 colors almost half way down on left). Priced too cheap to really have anything to complain about, I can see why they were, as this was five sticks without any sort of presence at all, making me wonder if they’re just too old to have retained a lot of the oil and spice. Compared to the Dhoop Factory blends, there was just no contest. Kind of a yawn.