Top Ten for June 2009 (from Ross)

These are not listed in any kind of order of preference, they are jsut what i have been most attracted to this last month. Onward!

1. Seijudo’s Shiragiku – White Chrysanthemum

This is new for the American market and is one of three scents that Kohshi has brought over in the last month. It is Aloeswood as opposed to the other two scents that are Kyara based. However it shares a lot of the same scent qualities and. at about one forth the price, it is a deal. Then again so are the other two when compared to similar scents and their prices. This is beautiful, with a sort of sweet musk and spice middle note to go with the heavy resin woods. A real winner and not to be missed.

2. Seikado’s Solitude / Hitori-Shizuka – Sandalwood

I love this stuff, It has a wonderful perfume and spice note ridding over the Sandalwood that just seals the deal for me. Its elegant and calming with just the right amount of spice ( ginger?) to keep it upbeat. Very much a modern scent and very well done.

3. Nippon Kodo’s Tokusen Kyara Taikan Aloeswood

I keep coming back to this one. It took some sticks to “get it” for me but when I did I realized it is really good. Sort of like they took the Kyara Taikan, cleaned up any rough edges and used a much better wood in this mix. Everyone I have burned this for immediately notices it and asks what it is. I find the scent to be very relaxing and elegant, great for late nights. Its really not like any other Kyara blend and once I sort of put it into its own category it works for me. It is a bit hard to describe the scent, not quite floral, some perfume qualities and a nice resin/wood base note.

4.Bosen’s Superior grade Vietnamese Hoi-An (Jinko)

This is a “straight up” Vietnamese Aloeswood style stick that also comes in a much bigger size, if you want. Very good quality wood at a good price. For those times when you just want to smell the Aloeswood, hold the spice. Bosen has a lot of different grades that span a large economic spectrum, their uber high end Kinam (Kyara) is amazing but also a lot more money. This is sort of their 2nd level but it is also really good and a great place to get an idea of what Aloeswood smells like without all the additives.

5. Baieido’s Kaiunkoh

I think that this is one of the best deals in Japanese incense, if you like woods and spices as opposed to floral’s. It is pretty potent and authoritative, a great scent to ground or re-center one after the day’s  “adventures”  🙂 ) I find myself going for this when I want a classic scent. It has a solid Aloeswood, Sandalwood and Borneol Camphor plus clove mixture that will cut through everything else. It is priced very reasonably and is a great stick of incense.

6. Baieido’s Kun Sho

This is called “The Rising Scent”, in that its scent rises up to heaven. I find this description quite appropriate. This is ever so slightly “sweeter” then some of the other woods in Baieido’s line up. There are just some days that that quality really works. As in most of Baiedo’s offerings there is a long and happy learning curve and by paying attention you get to discover new aspects with each burning. I like to burn this at night or after work for its calming effects. Simply wonderful.

7. Mother’s India Fragrances GANESH

I have not been a big fan of Indian incense, but this has started a conversion. It has all the classic scents of good quality incense from India without any of the synthetic scents and then the lavender / vanilla comes rolling in somewhere in the middle notes, Simply amazing. These are very potent sticks and I have found that I don’t need to burn much more then a ¼ of a stick to do up the room. It blows my mind that this kind of quality can be made for so little money.

8. Awaji-Baikundo’s Jihi

This is quite possibly the best amber scented incense on the market. It’s amber mixed with a big dose of Borneol Camphor and Hydrangea Tea to produce a very deep, yet at the same time upbeat blend. It is very potent and one stick will fragrance a room for hours after it is done burning. I love to burn a stick in the morning to scent my cloths for the day.

9. Mermade Magickal Art’s Golden Bough

A loose incense for charcoals or better yet, an electric heater. A blend of raw Labdanum from Crete, the finest Hougary Frankincense of Oman, rich amber /vanilla Tolu Balsam , healing Chios Mastic from Greece with Sandalwood . Exquisite and comforting, really a fantastic incense to be savored and enjoyed. Made with the very best of ingredients. Another winner from this company.

10. Mermade Magickal Art’s Labdanum Raw Resin

This is the real deal from Crete, Labdanum is the basic building block of most amber based scents( other then real ambergris, which amber sort of mimics) and this is the finest of its kind. Really potent and rich smelling. I like to use a small amount on my incense heater and sometimes mix in other raw materials. This is the same material that Mermade uses in their incense’s, it is top quality( as are the rest of the stuff on their raw materials page). One bag should last awhile, well, given a little self restraint!

Enjoy  -Ross



  1. Lisa said,

    June 23, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I love incense so I looked up the reviews here and ordered what I could find from your top 10 list. I was so excited – and then so dissapointed… KAI UN KOH smells like a musty suitcase with a slightly sweet overtone that makes me neaseaus. And GUIDING LIGHT smells like bitter chinese medicinal herbs (ever had to drink that tea? Ugh) together with a musk candy scent. I dont think its a good combination. Both these incenses leave a cold smoke/charcoal residual odour in the house. Me no like.

  2. Janet said,

    July 18, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    I was pretty ambivalent about trying the Ganesh because it seems like anything with lavender I’ve tried is at least partially synthetic and – to me – pretty unbearable. When you added your voice to Mike’s on this one, though, I decided to chance it.
    This stuff pretty much blew me away…and the oil smells like the real thing – something I can believe really IS French lavender!
    I also really love the Vishnu, its got kind of a rich, earthy vibe that grabs me and holds on.
    I already had the Jihi on this month’s wishlist, though now I think I’m going to go for the sampler at Essence, but I’ve added the Hitori-shizuka based on your above recommendation.
    Thanks for the reviews!

    • Ross Urrere said,

      July 18, 2009 at 10:56 pm

      Hello Janet
      Glad the suggestions worked for you. I am so impressed with the lavender notes in Ganesh that tomorrow i will try adding some to a mixture i am making at home. If you have not yet tried making some on your own I bet you would enjoy the process.
      I am on a “quest” for amber scented incenses at the moment (also trying to make one for myself..junior chemist here). I am finding that I really like the Japanese take (well, mostly) more then the Indian. Shoyiedo’s Golden Pavilion and River Path are the closest i can find to Jihi (which, so far, is my favorite from the company)but the Jihi really stands out, perhaps because of the borneol camphor hit, really boosts the scent way up. All this is to say if you find any you like please let me know.

      • Janet said,

        July 20, 2009 at 9:45 am

        It’s funny, because just yesterday I tried River Path for the first time, and liked it very much…I’m not really fond of too many florals, and I am mostly not doing aloeswood right now (I’m relatively new to incense, so even though I am making up for lost time by buying a ton of it, with the Japanese incense I am starting with sandalwoods – right now sticking to straight or very nearly straight woods of several different brands) so River Path will undoubtedly be the Horin I stock first.
        I’m looking forward to Jihi, especially because I like a camphor note in many things –
        have you found any indian ambers that you rate highly?

        • Mike said,

          July 20, 2009 at 10:37 am

          Ross and Janet, definitely check out the Shroff C. Pearl, which has a very different but still utterly amazing lavender durbar aroma to it. It’ll show up on my Top 10 which I hope to get to this week (later). It acts as a very interesting comparison to the Ganesh. To be honest I’ve barely been able to put down the six Shroff C wet masalas, I just rotate through them over and over, hoping I might reach a deep enough point where I can write them up. Just brilliant incense all around.

          For Amber incenses, I generally prefer the Indians, most of those Shroff ambers are really great and they grow on you. The Jihi’s definitely way up there two. I also find Kunjudo Karin really strikes an amber note for me as well, but that’s an incense that can be really different batch to batch.

  3. Mike said,

    June 25, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Nice. That Ganesh is terribly addicting stuff, I knew within a week I needed at least two packs on reserve. Kai Un Koh too, it’s like the ultimate “go to” scent. I have to agree it’s getting tougher and tougher to order the top 10 from 1 to 10.

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