Best Incense – August 2009 (by Nancy)

1. Kunmeido / Goikuhin Daikunkoh – An amazing temple stick from Kunmeido. Extra thick, rich, and long-burning for meditation and large spaces. A fantastic fenugreek incense! Definitely a unique scent and one that you typically do not find in the retail incense market, with its glut of synthetic and floral offerings that come primarily from India (even though India is the largest producer of this spice and it is commonly used in curries). I was at first completely unfamiliar with this scent but it has definitely grown on me. Even my father-in-law, who doesn’t even like incense, appreciates this one. He made me order some for him the very first time he ever smelled it

2. Kunmeido / Reiryo Koh, “Temple of Eternal Peace” – A lower cost version of a fenugreek incense. I must admit that I didn’t really like this one at first. I think it was just too, well, foreign. Ever since the Goikuhin Daikunkoh, however, I have been revisiting this one with a renewed appreciation.

3. Awaji-Baikundo / Jihi – This incense is so good my husband has made me swear to get another roll of this one next time I place an order. What an awesome, original incense from one of Japan’s finest manufacturers. Hydrangea tea-based like the rest of their line with amber overtones. A fantastic incense to burn when you retire, guaranteed to promote a peaceful night’s sleep. So delicious it’s almost tangible.

4. Shoyeido / Miyako Gusa, “Botanica” an apt name for an incense that somehow manages to achieve a perfect balance between the floral and the fruity. If you like your incense light and sweet this is one of Shoyeido Best incense bargains. Check out Shino Nome too!

5. Shoyeido / Ohjya-koh, “Kings Aroma” – A fantastic regal incense from my favorite incense company. Heavy on the aloeswood and camphor. Very penetrating and meditative and an excellent introduction to the wonders of aloeswood without breaking the bank. One of the most affordable offerings from Shoyeido Premium Incense line, which tops out at $599 with Sho-kaku, “Translucent Path.”

6. Black copal – There are many, many different kinds of copal. Like frankincense, it is historically one of the most important incense materials of the ancient world. Just as frankincense literally translates as “true incense,” copal translates as simply “incense,” indicating stature as the pre-eminent materials of their kind. Black copal is burned in churches and is famous for its use on the Day of the Dead, helping the souls find there way back home. Among the different varieties, Black copal is considered to be the richest. If you like pure resins and single note incenses definitely check this out!

7. Shoyeido / Xiang-do Vanilla – A nice single not incense from Shoyeido’s Xiang-do line. All of the incenses in this line are short sticks, not even three inches, but pack a wallop of fragrance. Awesome packaging with reinforced sides and it’s own little burner tucked inside. Supremely portable and beautiful with glittering mica in every stick. The best vanilla incense I have ever smelled!

8. Kyukyodo / Yumemachi “City of Dreams” – I just keep coming back to this one. It is a blend of woods with an unusual citrusy note that I just can’t put my finger on. It’s so interesting how a smell can be both obvious and elusive. My best guess is that this is a yuzu, or bitter orange, incense. To be honest, however, I’m just not too sure. This is not a scent familiar to my western nose but either way it is awesome! If you like this one try Kyukyodo’s other fruity blend, Shiun, or “Purple Cloud,” which has a nice grape or cherry note.

9. Shoyeido / Magnifiscents Jewel Series, Emerald – I truly believe that Shoyeido has some of the best incense bargains around. There are five incenses in the Jewel Series, all named after healing stones. Emerald is a sort of an aloeswood blended with a nice oriental perfume. I’ve recently been revisiting this line, as well as the Angelic Series. though most of the incenses in these lines are sort of nondescript, there are some real gems in this line!

10. Keigado / East Temple – Do you like palo santo? This sacred wood is surely present in large quantities in this incense. Blended with sandalwood and paired with Keigado’s West Temple, these two incenses are like the perfect bookends to a lovely day. Two of the better temple incenses out there try East Temple to perk you up in the morning (as the sun rises in the east) and West Temple to soothe you to sleep (west for the setting sun).



  1. Mike said,

    August 31, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Nancy, nice list. I’m curious about the first incense though, as I think it actually might be a Kunmeido incense (which would tie in with what you’re saying about Reiryo Koh too, I think that ingredient is common to most of their line), although the reason it’s sorted under Baieido in the Essence pages might actually be due to an error of mine, I’m not totally sure. A while back, with help from Kotaro, we went through the miscellaneous incense pages, most of which come through Incense Sampler, to figure out what companies all those were from. I might have reviewed the incense already except I never did clear up what company it was from. Course I might even be getting mixed up about this too, such is life… Anyway I like it a lot too.

    • Laurie said,

      September 25, 2009 at 1:03 pm

      Whoa, if it’s a possible Kunmeido (or smells like it could be a Kunmeido at least) then I might have to get it!

      • Mike said,

        September 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm

        It is indeed a Kunmeido incense, had that confirmed.

        • Laurie said,

          September 25, 2009 at 4:38 pm

          Awesome! (Too bad I didn’t happen to see this before I placed an order earlier this week!)

  2. Janet said,

    August 31, 2009 at 6:00 am

    I just got a roll of West Temple on Friday, and really liked it my first try – the timing of this review was *perfect*, not only because I was planning on getting the East Temple next, but because I had just thought about posting a question about the availability of Palo Santo incenses. So, thank you for the info!
    Also, I have been trying some of the Shoyeido Angelics and Jewels myself – I had sort of blown them off to this point, but was pleasantly surprised. I haven’t used them very much, and haven’t tried them all (including Emerald), but found a couple to have elements not usually found in less expensive sticks.
    The Diamond pales in comparison to the wonderful frankincenses available from Tennendo and Minorien, but when taken on its own merits, to me it packs a pretty good wallop of frankincense for such a cheap incense.
    The Love blend offers that strong benzoin note I adore in several Shoyeidos, but is less sweet than the Abundance, one I thought was similar.
    And the Sapphire includes vetiver and is a drier, cooler scent that I really liked when I tried it. I also want to check out the Peace blend, that has myrrh listed as the primary ingredient.
    Now the Emerald is on the list, too! Thanks again!

  3. clairsight said,

    August 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Love the East Temple(as well as the West) these are really fine sticks that are also great deals. Thanks Nancy

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