Tennendo / Karafune / Johin (Bronze), Yuhin (Silver), Kahin (Gold)

If Enkuu-Horizon is the current top line being exported to the US via Tennendo, then this series of three aloeswood incenses might be the next highest group in terms of quality and pricing. However, all three of these scents are quite different than the rest of the company’s lines. If Enkuu is notable due to its high resin content and the series that includes Kuukai, Tensei et al. is notable due to the quality of oil notes in the incense, the Karafune series (I’m using this loosely as Tennendo also have a single incense under the same name) is surely notable due to the quality of wood involved. That is, all three of these incenses are not the sort of intense, resinous, almost ancient scents you’d expect of many high end aloeswood incenses, but something quite a bit more user friendly and light hearted.

The incenses are actually not all that difficult to describe and in many ways it’s their single note scents and lack of complexity that makes them, perhaps, a bit less notable than other incenses at similar price ranges. The breakdown is like this: Johin uses spicy aloeswood. Kahin uses sweet aloeswood. Yuhin combines the two and to say that it’s almost like a direct hybird of Johin and Yuhin would not be far from the truth at all (and in saying so it’s the most complex of the three incenses).

All three incenses are packaged in beautiful Kiri/Paulownia boxes, with catching labels and what looks like a bit of stain or something to bring the wood closer to the particular gold, silver or bronze motif. The incenses themselves, as close as possible with the ingredients, also resemble these colors. All  three incenses are very mellow and woody and even the two that use spicy aloeswood have a bit of sweetness to them. All three give the impression of cool wood, nothing fancy or spectacular, but obviously of good quality. The spicy aloeswood, if not up to Baieido’s Hakusui level, shares some similarities with that quality of wood. The sweet aloeswood loses the tang, but doesn’t generally have the sort of richness that higher end sweet aloeswoods often do. And as I previously mentioned, only the Silver has any sort of complexity, the two woods being used kind of playing off of each other.

Oddly enough I might prefer the Johin best of all, if only because I prefer drier, spicier, tangier woods to the sweeter ones. I don’t notice gigantic upgrades in quality from one style to the next, which to my nose, makes the Kahin a bit overpriced for the level of quality. While all three have a certain smoothness and elegance to them that is quite attractive, I often find myself craving something with a bit more overt resin content to it. However, I conversely think that these could be ideal high/middle end aloeswood incenses for the newcomer. And they look awful pretty among the rest of your incense boxes.


  1. Janet said,

    September 9, 2010 at 7:40 am

    The more I burn these three, the more I have come to appreciate them….they definitely have a commonality to the base, and whiffs of what I also recognize from other Tennendos, such as Kuukai and Renzan – a quality I haven’t ever really been able to describe, but that I find addictive.
    I think these ones might be a little misleading at first, because they do showcase their woody nature so well…subtle, maybe, but I don’t think they are truly one-dimensional. Especially when I burn them consecutively, the differences are pronounced…the spiciness of the Johin and the slight muskiness of the Kahin…and even though they aren’t cheap, they are a a mainstay of my collection.

    • Mike said,

      September 9, 2010 at 8:36 am

      Talk about a group of incenses much better than I originally gave them credit for. Best approached like the Baieidos, with a clear environment and no fatigue.

      I gotta say though I could easily burn Kuukai for days, that’s one I never get tired of. I keep considering a full 10 roll box.

      • Janet said,

        September 9, 2010 at 8:48 am

        Yeah, Kuukai is a fave of mine, too.

        • glennjf said,

          September 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm

          Air sponge is looming stronger in my future now after Mike’s comment I realise I probably need to clear the air here to be better placed to appreciate better some of the incenses I already have.

  2. August 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    […] Tennendo / Karafune Kahin-Gold – It took me a while to come around to this series, in fact had I written the review today I’d have compared them to the above-mentioned Baieido aloeswood series as they’re really that difficult to parse. Over time I’ve been noticing just how quality the aloeswood is in this and (in lesser quantity) the Silver. But now these are starting to really grow on me and I’m starting to notice more of the woody qualities. Sleeper hits for sure. […]

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