Shunkohdo / Matsuba Pine, Sarasoju, Shuhou

This write up covers the last three Shunkohdo scents we haven’t covered to date and that are currently available in the United States. All three are wood-based, the Matsuba Pine described as mixing pine scent with spices, the Sarasoju a traditional sandalwood incense and the Shuhou a mix of cedar and sandalwood with a touch of lilac.

The Matsuba Pine could roughly be compared to one or two incenses in the Nippon Kodo Scents of Forest box set, although the Matsuba is a traditional incense in terms of stick thinness and size. While it shares the light pine scent found in the Scents of Forest Conifer stick, it likely has a fair share of cedar and/or sandalwood in the base, as there’s a certain similarity in the base of this incense to the Shuhou. Like the few Japanese pines out there, the scent concentrates more on the wood or tree than the more pungent resin and is lightly rendered here with a very nice and sublime top note that could easily get lost with aromatic fatigue. It also shares some slight similarities to the lower end woody incenses found in the Encens du Monde range and made by Kokando.

The Sarasoju is quite simply a terrific sandalwood and one I’ve found a little difficult to describe as I went from seeing it as standard to truly appreciating its finer more “Old Mountain” like tendencies over several sticks. At first I noticed what seemed like an almost sawdust like sandalwood scent, but the more crystalline resin “interior” is quite present, just not as obvious as it tends to be in the better Baieido incenses and the pure wood on a heater. When you consider you get 70 sticks of this for around $10 bill, it’s a tremendously good deal and one I’d recommend taking advantage of given that some of the sandalwood products coming from Japan are taking gigantic leaps in price. In fact only Baieido’s Byakudan Kobunboku is comparable and that’s not quite as pure a sandalwood as this one. And it acts as a nice contrast to some of the heavily oiled while still superb sandalwood incenses being exported from India.

Shuhou could very well be the only floral incense currently exported by Shunkohdo, with the pink color of the stick more than pointing at this incense’s direction. While the scent is quite overtly floral, the description of the light touch of lilac is probably only found in the incense’s top note where it takes a place quite similar to the overt pine scent found in the Matsuba. But even with that light note, the cedarwood and sandalwood seem close to being balanced out by the scent’s floral nature and due to this the scent moves closer to a more modern direction, especially for Shunkohdo. It’s an interesting scent, but I’d assume this will appeal far more to floral lovers than those eyeing the woods in the description.

More Shunkohdo reviews can be found by clicking the company name on the left and it’s worth a reminder here that this is by far one of the finest incense companies whose work is being imported to the US, not only are the wide range of scents excellent but in most cases you’re getting as good a deal for the money as you can find in Japanese incense.


  1. James said,

    January 1, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Sarosoju: I bought some and it is a very good, clean scent. Smells woody (in a good way) mixed with the smell of sandlewood when burning, but leaves the classic smell of sandlewood lingering for hours, long after it’s done burning.

  2. Janet said,

    October 14, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I *love* the Sarasoju!
    It has such a wonderful, pure sandalwood scent…I stock both it and the Byakudan Kobunboku, because to me the Baieido is different in that it has the subtle additions that make it multifaceted, while the Shunkohdo seems more direct…each of them expresses the beautiful “old mountain” sandalwood scent in a unique way.
    I also stock the Minorian, because the rich oil-and-spice augmented, “wet” aroma is also terrific and another good contrast to the other two.
    Even though I’m not a big fan of florals, I tried both the Shouhou and Kunmeido’s Unjo-koh, which are both sandalwood, cedar, and lilac, and found the Shunkohdo to be preferable. Although both were too floral for my tastes, the Unjo-koh ratched the lilac up to a level that smelled pretty sharp and almost overtly synthetic to me, while the Shouhou was more balanced.
    The Matsuba is nice…a good “green sandalwood” for an anti-floral person like me!

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