I would be the first to admit to an almost slavish love of Kyara, so my opinion here is not exactly unbiased. Also, I really like what Shunkohdo does which their blends. To me they seem to be one of the best around and their Incense Master is very skilled.
I had gotten the Kyara – Aioi no Matsu about two months ago and the Ka Cho Fu Getsu about one month later and have really grown to love them. As a matter of fact I happened to walk into Japan Incense the day after the shipment arrived and was (I think) the first person they got to unleash it on. (It was rough, but someone had to do it :)), Kotaro presenting a new, and what he is pretty sure is going to be a winning incense, is much like a magician with a great new trick. Showmanship and a love of turning people onto good things, plus a level of excitement that it very infectious.
Kyara Seikan: I must admit the first time I smelled the Kyara Seikan it seemed a lot dryer and sharper, and in the end I walked out with the Aioi no Matsu. However, right now, I noticed that there is a great depth and play going on between all its components. All that being said this time what struck me right away was a lot of similarities to the high end Shoyeido’s. That dry, yet at the same time somehow sweet play on spices (in this case a touch of Star Anise and maybe a tiny bit of Cassia, which hints of other things(Musk?) that is going to take some time to get a handle on!. You know right away there is some great Kyara in the blend. It is right there and happy to meet you. It is not as intense as the Shoyeidos, it’s also hundreds of dollars less, But wait…It just hit me what this is about, Ranjatai with Kyara.
Kyara – Aioi no MatsuThis has become one of my favorite Kyara’s. It as if they took something along the lines of Reiryo koh (Aloeswood) but based it on Kyara and added a touch of what, at times, seems to remind me of that Shoyeido Myo-Ho scent. Again, not as intense as the Shoyeido’s, but still holding its own and oh so good. One thing I just noticed is that the Aioi no Matsu is about a third again as thick as the Kyara Seikan. This could account for the price difference, because at this point to me, they are equally as good and also different enough to own both. One other thing to point out here. Many times when you open a box of incense you get the initial hit of the oils, this is not the case here. There is a bit, but not much. This would seem to say that the woods and spices are playing the major rolls in these incenses.
Ka Cho Fu Getsu: This may turn out to be one of the great incense deals around. $32.00 for about 200 sticks. It uses a mix of solid, middle grade Aloeswoods with a great array of spices. Think Baieido, that style that is known as Han or Chinese medicinal. There is a touch of Borneol Camphor (not as much as you usually find in this style) and a whole lot more. It clean, fresh, just the right amount of spice and smells great. After the first stick I remember opening the box again, seeing all the sticks left and smiling. I love to light this when I wake up. Then again, I also find myself using it many times though out the day.