Shunkodo / Yae No Hana, Haru No Kaori, Yoshino No Haru

Those of you who have tried Shunkodo’s incenses are aware that one of the best parts about buying a box, is that it’s likely to last you a long time. While the company does have some smaller rolls with different fragrances, their central line comes in these boxes with double flaps which generally contain well over 100 sticks. This means if you like a scent, you’ll be set for a long time with any of these boxes, and I’ve found over time that in terms of Japanese incense, the Shunkodo lines from top to bottom are among some of my most commonly burned incenses.

I’ve reviewed both Zuika and Ranjatai in the past, which are two of three highest end Shunkodo incenses currently exported from Japan. The three under review here contain the other of those three high line incenses and two you’d describe as being right in the middle. All three of these have become standards in my home and are extremely affordable for the quality. Yes, in most Shunkodo cases you’re going to be spending some money to get a box (although not all that much in two cases here), but once you do you’ll be glad you did.

The most expensive in the bunch is the Yoshino No Haru, which is Shunkodo’s second most premium incense, at least of those currently exported to the US. I’ve mentioned this incense frequently in top 10 lists because it is an exponent of what appears to be a fairly common high end Japanese aloeswood blend, a green stick whose woody qualities are sublimated for what is generally an incredible oil or spice presence. I’ve mentioned this in context with Kunmeido’s Asuka and Heian Koh blends. Asuka is the normal Japanese incense stick, Heian Koh a thicker, square cut and like these, Yoshino No Haru also comes in both of these formats. In the Kunmeido case and after some deliberation, I’ve come to think of the Asuka as the most premium quality in this style (and the price speaks to that as well), but certainly Yoshino No Haru is the most affordable exponent and a $60 roll will get you at least 110 sticks in the thin form. The thing is, I’ve found the Heian Koh’s thicker stick and more prevalent aromatic delivery to be the one I reach for the most, so i can imagine the thicker stick in this format is likely to be just as satisfying if not more so. The description of the incense with the quote about 30,000 cherry blossoms also hints at the scent here, getting a bit closer to what is a difficult aroma to describe. It’s sweet, rich, powerful and quite user friendly. You might be able to tell by now that I love all of these blends to bits.

Yae No Hana and Haru no Kaori both have one noticeable thing in common, they’re an attempt to harmonize or combine floral scents with woods and spices, sandalwood for Yae No Hana and aloeswood and Chinese medicine spices for Haru no Kaori. I’ve found both of these to be wonderful, relatively inexpensive blends that are both quite user friendly. Yae No Hana is both a purple stick and in a purple box and in some ways it’s sort of an every day style of incense, except the floral notes (rose? violet?) are more on top. Incenses like this often tend to show off notes due to the quality of floral oils used, but in this case Yae No Hana strikes me as a perfectly balanced incense. It’s strange but certain incense scents remind me of being very young and using Crayola crayons and this is one of them. For around $18, you’ll be set for a long time with a big roll of this stuff and quite happy too.

Haru No Kaori may be the most user friendly scent in the line, in fact it’s not all that far from Kyukyodo’s Azusa, except not nearly that distinctive or classic. It just has a bit of aloeswood that kind of quietly sits behind a very friendly, sweet floral smell. It’s not a particularly loud incense and took me maybe 10-15 sticks to really start noticing that it has the same sort of quiet sublimity that Shunkodo’s Zuika has. It’s really a charming part of the line that so many of the positive qualities of these incenses are on such a quiet and finely attuned level. I could really find myself having this particular scent become one of my standards as it does itch some of my high end sympathies while not being quite in that price range.

Overall, all three of these are well worth adding to your incense supply. Not only will they increase your stock significantly, but you’ll find yourself wanting to burn them more frequently as you get used to them. I should also mentioned that both Haru No Kaori and Yoshino No Haru also come in long stick forms via Japan Incense (link on right).

8 Comments

  1. May 31, 2010 at 10:57 am

    […] Haru No Kaori from Shunkodo is the floral incense to try if you don’t typically like florals.  A fantastic […]

  2. janet said,

    December 28, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Re: Yae No Hana..this one is unique for me, in that on my initial burn, it had what seemed to be a pretty dominant violet-like floral that I didn’t think would work for me. Then I started to pay some attention, and something about it really struck me, because there is an equally potent dry base that truly balances out the almost sugary floral. I’ve had a hard time really articulating the scent as such, but this is one that really evoked a sttrong image for me…that of a chilly, wet spring garden with violets peeking out of foliage, sun just hitting damp bark, mud underfoot….
    little warmth at all, despite the sweetness of the floral. It’s an interesting fragrance, to be sure.

  3. Nancy said,

    June 17, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Just burning another stick of Haru no Kaori from my Shunkodo sampler. What an awesome stick of incense! So nice, so smooth… truly multi-dimensional.

    • Mike said,

      June 18, 2009 at 11:28 am

      One of my favorite sandalwood based sticks that one. It really opens up with a fresh nose. And I think I severely underplayed it with this review!

  4. April 15, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    […] does one learn how great they are. We’ve covered their high ends, their not so high ends, and some mid to high ends in the past. Like with Baieido, if I was to review some of these today, my experiences would be […]

  5. Mike said,

    July 8, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I added Haru No Kaori to the Hall of Fame. I don’t think I did it justice here. It’s such a surprising incense in that it has a really deluxe sort of middle note to it, a bit minty and herbaceous, but it’s one often drowned out because of how mellow the overall scent is. Has a lot in common with other green sticks, it’s sweet and fresh. Would love a thick stick of this to further suss out the qualities.

  6. Mike said,

    March 21, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Robert!

    Thanks very much for your kind comments. Glad you are enjoying the incense and the site.

    Best, Mike

  7. Robert said,

    March 21, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Mike –

    Thank you very much for your website which I have been reading for a couple of months. Thanks to your recommendation I have been purchasing incense from Essence of Ages and their service is, indeed, as good as you have reported. I am currently enjoying Baiedo’s Kai Un Koh, Minorien’s Sandalwood, Daihatsu’s Taganohana and Lilac Tanaka. All are lovely and I am looking forward to buying others that you have recommended. Keep up the good work!

    Best Wishes,

    Robert


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