Baieido’s 350th Anniversary Set

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.

-Ross

8 Comments

  1. Mike said,

    September 22, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Thanks Chris. I hope you were steered to a set.

  2. clairsight said,

    September 20, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Hey Chris, glad you like the blog. The Anniversary set is a limited edition, there might be one left in the US for sale at a privet party. You can contact me off blog for more info “clairsight@yahoo.com, if you are interested in it. Apparently about every 5 years or so Baieido puts out an extra special product. 350 is a special number, I am told, to the Japanese so they went all out on this one.
    -Ross

  3. Chris said,

    September 19, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Mike, I love your blog. Thank you for all the great details of you experience. I’ve been a Baieido fan for years. But I have not seen the 350th anniversary set anywhere. Where can it be found?

  4. Ross said,

    September 9, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Well, my experiences with both ionizers and ozone generators seem to be that they effect the SURFACES of whatever they can reach. Could be wrong here from a science view point. There are studies out that say ozone machines are maybe not good for you, but my thinking is to run them when not home and then air the room out. Ion machines seem safe but have this tendency of depositing dark “dust” like matter on the walls or surfaces near them, although I think having a fan going at the same time might help. Might also depend on usage.
    here are also the newer incenses from Japan that are designed to clear the air and not add so much of their own scent to the mix, You might give Japan Incense a call and ask for a suggestion for one. I am thinking one of the green tea varieties might do the job, at least that is one of the things I am going to try 🙂 Or move into a tent in the mountains, well at least for the summer!
    -Ross

  5. Jerry said,

    September 9, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    I worry about the same thing, Ross. I have my “place” where I burn all of my incense. If I am there, something will be lit. So, how does the stick I just finished affect the one I am burning now? How about the ones I tried yesterday? I have a few very strong Indian incenses, that put out a lot of smoke, that I will occasionally use to “reset” my space. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it seems to work. I use something that I am very familiar with, and it sort of becomes “ground zero” for everything that follows. Still, I wish there was a better way to completely neutralize things. Please follow up with some more comments if you do get some kind of ionizer, that’s a good idea. Do you think it would clear furniture, carpets, etc, or just the air?

  6. Ross said,

    September 8, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    I am coming to realize that the room I burn incense in most of the time is pretty much saturated, I only really realized this when I was at Lake Tahoe last month, in my tent, and found a whole new level to the 350 kyara as well as the other two in the set. I am thinking about getting an ozone generator or ionizer for my room for when I am not in it just to clear it up a bit.
    Many of the higher end incenses of all the lines are so very complex that in my case, a lot is getting lost in the “background clutter”, so to speak.
    Mike, you are right about the borneol, one of my favorite things about the set is opening the box and just taking a couple of huge deep breaths, its really amazing.

  7. Mike said,

    September 8, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Ross just totally nails this set, I couldn’t really add anything except that the incenses all bear similiarities to the Kokoh series, while being somehow different (I’ve not compared the 350 Kyara to the Kyara Kokoh, but the other two pairs are really close). I’m finding increasingly that Baieido incenses are rarely the types you can turn someone onto with just a stick or two like you can with the oil-enhanced Shoyeidos, but the 350 Kyara is definitely an exception. I’ll also add that the borneol in these and the Kokohs is among the best I’ve ever experienced, as noticeable an element as the sandalwood or aloeswood involved.

  8. Mark said,

    September 5, 2008 at 4:58 am

    Ross, I lust shamelessly…

    Mark


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: