Joyoko Temple, Kinjo Koh

The companies who produce these two incenses (third from top and second from bottom) are currently unknown to me, although I’m hoping to find out soon, but I bring these two up together as they’re currently the only imports I’m not sure about. About the only thing the two have in common is they’re both long sticks.

Kinjo Koh is the least of the two, about as traditional and inexpensive an incense as you’re going to find. I’d almost describe it as sub-sandalwood in that it’s more of a general woody blend (the unimported Kyukodo stick Daitenko is not far off), probably with some inexpensive woods used like cedar. It’s basically nondescript and mellow, with a slight hint of forest and evergreens involved. There’s no question you’ll get a lot of incense for the price, 55+ 9 inch sticks for $2.50, and although this isn’t a high quality incense stick by any means, I’ve found that it works quite well with a lot of ventilation, where the slighty sweet notes give it a bit of its own character. Overall it’s a bit of a bubble incense, for me, I’m not sure I’d buy it again but tend to enjoy it when it’s going. Of course with the amount of incense you’re getting even with a single roll, it’s a question one won’t need to answer for some time.

Joyoko Temple is a long stick premium meditation blend that doesn’t come listed with ingredients, but seems to be multi-ingredient blend, heavy on the spice and wood. In the interest of full disclosure, I found this stick to be one of my early favorites until a moving accident caused me to break the entire long roll at about the third mark. I mention this because Joyoko strikes me as an incense with an excellent cumulative effect. Where the blend might strike one as a minor Sho-Ran-Ko in style (without the high end qualities), a full long stick of this becomes quite startling as the smoke builds up the spice character. There appears to be a healthy amount of cinnamon and clove in this one, perhaps equal or greater in quantity than the sandalwood and aloeswood on display. To mitigate my accident I separated the shorter thirds from the remainder and since I’ve been burning these it’s usually right at the end of the fragment where I start to notice it. I’m thinking the larger fragments will move me closer to my original opinion.

Overall, both of these are priced quite nicely, the Kinjo Koh about as affordable a traditional Japanese incense stick as exists and the Joyoko Temple a fairly priced temple blend. While I’d have trouble wholeheartedly recommending the former, the latter’s definitely quite nice and is likely a perfect companion for a long meditation.

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