This is a special, limited production offering from Baieido to celebrate 350 years as an incense maker. They made 350 of these sets, to my knowledge there is one other set in the U.S.
The packaging is remarkable. You are presented with a series of boxes. The outer box, of a heavy walled paper is done in a dark blue grey with hand painted silver markings. Rumor has it the markings were drawn with a stick of incense, how cool is that!
One end is hinged and drops down, which you get to discover when you take off the lid, so that the inner box can easily slide out. The inner box is a lacquered, deep blue gray (very thick and heavy) material, very glossy, flawless finish. When you lift its lid off you are presented with three thick rolls of incense, 40 grams each, wrapped in the same blue with silver makings, nestled in a blue satin like material. I personally just stopped right there and stared for quite awhile. My little craftsman’s soul had to have its moment and offer its respects to whoever designed this presentation.
So, referring to a picture of all this at the Alice’s Restaurant blog ( in the pictures section, see the pointer in the left column of this blog) I figured out which was the Sandalwood and showing remarkable restraint, lit that first. This is the best Sandalwood I have ever smelled, bar none. If there was such a thing as the Kyara equivalent in the world of Sandalwood this would be it. Really. Every person who has smelled this has had the same reaction; they just stop and ask, “Wow, what is that?” It is, I believe, classified as a somewhat modern scent, yet gentle, calm and very, very deep. It’s not in your face, no flowers or spices, rather it is just the essence of Sandalwood where all the components work towards a complete fusion of the scent. Heaven.
The Aloeswood is from Vietnam, yet it reminded me of the Cambodian Kun Sho. Really, when I first lit the stick and experienced it I thought I had mistakenly lit the Kyara. There is a certain sweetness, very delicate, tempered with a dryness that is a really wonderful combination. Again, it’s not “in your face”, it is very subtle, considered, somehow potent and blended together with all those 350 years worth of expertise. I knew it was a great incense, I also know its going to take a long time to even scratch the surface of all that is going on within it.
Now we come to the Kyara. This is, if anything, more restrained then the other two. But there is a huge difference between weak and restrained. I find myself going to it, rather then it coming at me. I have gotten used to Shoyeido’s style of Kyara where there are many extra flavors added in to achieve the scent. So they come across as very strong. This is totally unlike that. It is dry, with more presence then say, Baieido’s Koh Shi Boku. To my nose these are both pretty subtle, yet I also know that they are the real thing using the finest Kyara and supporting components. It is hard to describe and again there is a huge learning curve going on in all three of this sets incense’s. I happened to take some with me on a trip to Lake Tahoe a couple of weekends ago. Outside in a tent at night at around 6000 feet in elevation I got to hear some of the other parts come to life. The benzion and camphor have a very gentle sweet and sharp duet going on that the Kyara sort of drifts through. This is totally unlike any other Kyara in my experience (which really is not that huge), yet the more I use, the more I can discover and enjoy some of the nuances and there are so many levels left to explore. What a long great trip its going to be 🙂 .
I personally do not think I can adequately describe or do justice to this set, don’t really have the experience or words but because it is such a special set and no one else( like Baieido) seems to be saying anything I thought I would give it my best shot. It would be a shame to not tell its story.
The other set I mentioned above might actually be for sale, its not going to be cheap if it is. If you are really interested write to me off blog.