Encens du Monde / Prince of Awaji, Imperial Family, Ikebana, Jade Orchid/Kokando Rangetsu

Other Encens du Monde (now Florisens) reviews can be found here. Prince of Awaji has been discontinued, however the other incenses are still available.

Encens du Monde is a French company that contracts with various Japanese companies, especially Kunjudo, to provide a number of lines of incense to the public. Due to such an arrangement, the prices of these incenses tend to be quite a bit higher than most in the same range, although the overlap between EdM incenses and those already catalogued in the US is small enough that the lion’s share of EdM incenses could be considered new to US shores. Overall you’d probably have to consider EdM a somewhat higher priced, more boutique version of Nippon Kodo, who tends to market their incenses more so to gift and new age shops, than appreciators of traditional Japanese incenses. As of today only Essence of the Ages supplies this company’s incenses for the US market.

Encens du Monde include numerous sublines, many of which signify the length of the stick. Prince of Awaji is the line’s most deluxe luxury incense, Imperial Family a long stick Meditation incense. Both Ikebana and Jade Orchid are long rolls and floral in bouquet, the former two incenses definitively woody.

I’ve struggled with Prince of Awaji for quite a while as this is a good example of where the Encens du Monde price differential makes a difference. Readers of our Hall of Fame page will notice the Luxury category, which are boxes in excess of $150. In nearly all cases, a box of incense costing over $150 is going to be superb and while they will always be cost prohibitive given a certain salary, it’s hard not to recommend most incenses at this price for those who can afford them. However Prince of Awaji is more a Premium level incense at a Luxury price and while it’s still excellent, it’s hard to justify it as a Hall of Fame pick given its expense. Going for it are what seems like a larger number of sticks than what’s on the box, at least at a guess. Like several other EdM incenses like Whispering Bamboo and the two Karin smokeless incenses Pearl and Ruby, Prince of Awaji is a square stick, skinner than, say, Baieido Kai Un Koh but similar in cut. Prince of Awaji is described as having accents of kyara and that would be a fair statement. That is, this is not a kyara incense in the same way, say, Koh Shi Boku or Aioi no Matsu are, rather that element of the incense only exists at the most faintest top note, the note missed most with aromatic fatigue. In fact of a dozen or more burned sticks, I only caught this note once and while it’s quite sublime, it’s not likely to survive past what is a rather workmanlike and slightly nutty aloeswood base that, while reminiscent of other excellent EdM aloeswoods like Golden Waves or Swallows Flight, is rather pale and not particularly compelling without the essential oils to bolster it. Overall most incenses at $150 or more are intense and heavily aromatic, Prince of Awaji by comparison is less rich and far more fleeting, whatever good can be said for it.

The most striking thing about Imperial Family would have to be the attractive box, its green, floral motif one of the most striking outside pawlonia boxes. Incense-wise, it’s very difficult to describe, ostensibly a sandalwood based green blend, but that would incorrectly imply a noticeable sandalwood aromatic element. Instead the woods and spices blend into something far more difficult to put a finger on, with a number of rarely used woods that give the incense a slight tang to it. The description implies flowery, but it’s quite unlike Pine and Orchid Wedding, Ikebana, Whispering Bamboo, Virgin Snow and other green EdMs with stronger floral elements. Overall it’s a difficult incense to really talk about as it’s quite unlike other woody incenses and might be something of a risk given its relative expense and quantity. I’m still fairly neutral to it although there are indeed some accents that are intriguing and overall it is reminscent of other incenses with rei-ryoko root or other medicinal herbs, particularly from Shunkohdo or Kunmeido.

Both Ikebana and Jade Orchid (scroll down about half way) are sandalwood-based long rolls with very floral aromas. Ikebana presents a bouquet-like floral that will remind many of Kyukyodo’s similar florals (such as Azusa and a few currently unexported to the US). While Kyukyodo florals tend to hide their base more than this, leaving Ikebana with a noticeable sandalwood center, the jasmine-tinged multi-floral perfume oil on top will likely be considered very pleasant and similar, with a bit of spice to pep things up including what seem like cinnamon and patchouli, similar to many low end daily incenses. Overall a bit powdery and sweet, with only a bit of sharpness from the base.

Jade Orchid is one of the Encens du Monde crossovers, being an almost identical recipe to Kokando Rangetsu. Kokando Rangetsu (scroll down to bottom, this page has it listed as Ranshuko Rangetsu) is an extraordinarily affordable floral sandalwood with what I would have described as a jasmine oil in front, but what appears to be something of an orchid aroma based on the EdM name. A lot of sandalwood incenses at this low end often have sharp or bitter notes in the base, but the Rangetsu seems to avoid these. It’s interesting to compare Rangetsu to Jade Orchid as the recipe does indeed seem to be slightly different despite what is similar packaging and almost identical aromas. Jade Orchid seems to have a higher quality and more sandalwood rich base than Kokando Rangetsu, despite their being very little difference otherwise. While it’s not the sort of difference to explain the same in price, Jade Orchid has a pleasant woodiness to it that gives it the slight nod.

Lots more Encense du Monde incenses to still cover, the next batch should cover four more Karin blends and after that some more short rolls.

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4 Comments

  1. kimbola said,

    November 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Imperial Family has a sour ,lemon, tea and flower scent to it,
    im stating to like it alot more now i have burned a few sticks,

  2. January 26, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    […] tend to feature a similar artistic motif, for example the green roll with Koh game symbolism on Kokando Rangetsu and Jade Orchid. The same goes for two of the three incenses here, there’s a definite overlap between the […]

  3. Mike said,

    November 17, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Hi CJ, appreciate your thoughts on these. I just picked up Seeds of Transformation myself, which I was curious to find out if it was anything like Blissful Mountain, both are lily/sandalwood blends. Blissful Mountain’s a much thicker stick, but in my first impression they seemed to strike different notes, similar yes, but not identical, I was wondering if maybe the BM had a higher grade oil involved.

    Golden Waves was removed from the Karin line, so unfortunately the long stick appears to be its only format now, unless you manage to find an old Karin box. It’s probably the best of the whole EdM line (I like it better than the Awaji), but at the new price I’m not sure it’s quite worth it, although perhaps the long stick’s a better quality, given the discrepancy. One day I’m sure I’ll break down and find out.

  4. C.J. said,

    November 14, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    I took some time yesterday comparing EdM’s “Imperial Family” with similar incenses in my own collection. I compared and contrasted with two Kyukyodo scents, “Ikaruga” and “Shirohato”. Also two Shoyeido scents I thought might compare due to their inclusion of frankincense: “Matsu no Tomo” and the now out of production yet still wonderful “Sho Un” (formerly paired with Matsu no tomo)

    Not too much resemblence to Shoyeido’s two (which are super in their own right)…however, Imperial Family compares closely to both Ikaruga and Shirohato — although I suspect the base wood of Imperial Family is pine, or perhaps cedar rather than sandalwood.

    If you love the two Kyukyodo scents, you will ceratinly love Imperial Family, which seems a bit deeper, a tad darker and sweet but barely not as sweet (which is why I thought of Shoyeido’s two pine-based frankincense scents in the first place) as Ikaruga or Shirohato. I certainly didn’t smell anything which jumped out as low class reject in Imperial family.

    I think it is different in the way say, the Tibetan “Holy Land” larger ceremonial offering sticks differs from the shorter bundle. They are less intense than shorter sticks, but this seems to be the norm among meditation length sticks. I imagine too much intensity would be a distraction to sitting. Of course I haven’t researched the maker of Imperial Family! But isn’t it striking that kyukyodo’s inspiration for Ikaruga…

    Speaking of Tibetans, EdM’s “Guiding Light” with its obvious spikenard-plus-others scent seems to be a phenomenal gateway ~between~ the Japanese and Tibetan incences of the highest grades…wow!

    And I haven’t even mentioned “Seeds of Tranquility”, which is lovely in its own was, a green-colored sandalwood blend with lily–wonderful stuff! Unburned, a very traditional Japanese scent–at least from my time over there. Burning: lovely! I need to get off my duff, pull down the big dictionary, and translate the name of the maker.

    Wish we could get affordable “Golden Waves” over here. I can read the Japanese website via Google translation, but the proprieter won’t answer my emails. Maybe my e-translator is giberish. This is the one scent I haven’t tried yet!

    Keep On,

    CJ 🙂


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