If you click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page, you’ll see what is a slightly iconic picture of what may be the most famous chunk of wood on the planet. One can only imagine that being within 20 feet of the scent from this wood would create spontaneous orgasms, heal millions, tear down the Veil of Maya and make kyara smell like swamp gas. Ranjatai, I covet thee.
So it’s not a surprise that this name would find its way to incense and in the US market it’s something you now see on two incenses, one the (apparently) company-less Jinko Ranjatai (scroll down third from bottom) and the other Shunkodo’s top line Ranjatai. And since this contest is stacked from the beginning, it’s easy to say it’s the latter that’s the most impressive. Unless you’re talking about cost, in which case it’s the opposite.
The label I have on the back of the box shows Jinko Ranjatai hailing from the Incense Sampler and since that’s not where I purchased it I’d assume that’s the incense’s US gateway. I’ve seen some “generic” Japanese incenses that have the same exactly boxes as some scents that aren’t exported to the US, so my guess is this is marketed differently depending on the incense’s destination. Jinko Ranjatai is a long stick and unlike you’d expect the aloeswood is really just part of a blend of a number of ingredients, sandalwood and spices, all making up what is a really nice and pleasant, woody, spicy blend with very little in the way of a front note. No, it won’t resurrect the dead or end world hunger like that piece of wood might, but it’s an excellent, affordable (approx $15 a roll) incense that I ought to burn more often.
Shunkodo Ranjatai on the other end is their deluxe exported line and will cost you a pretty penny (it might be worth taking a look at Japan Incense who are selling the long stick version a little cheaper). This incense tends to the aristocratic, bitter, heavily woody side of aloeswood, which initially made me compare it with Minorien’s Aloeswood incense, but Ranjatai is much more complex and is about as deep as the company claims. I’m still, after months of burning this, catching wafts I hadn’t before, some deeply musky, the occasional spice and that sort of wide range really good aloeswood has. Shunkodo Ranjatai may not cure cancer or solve the drug problems in urban areas, but it’ll definitely make you a little happier if this style of incense appeals to you.
The score, like the price: Shunkodo Ranjatai 100 – Jinko Ranjatai 15