SAMPLER NOTES: Shochikudo, Shorindo, Tahodo

This is a slight summary of some of the more recent modern Japanese incense imports, including one traditional scent and another on the fence. All of these scents are available from Essence of the Ages or Japan Incense.

Like many of the new imports we’re seeing there are quite a few new companies making their entry into the US Market, including an incense from Shochikudo called Kirari or Ocean Breeze. This one has a rather huge list of ingredients given as: rose, lavender, jasmine, ylang ylang, iris, lemon, bergamot, blue cypress, sandalwood, vanilla beans and oak moss. It’s almost like a starter list of essential oils and with a sampler I’d be hard pressed to say that any of these particular ingredients stand out more than any other except for, perhaps, the vanilla bean (I get an impression of some amber as well). This is an incense generally in the vein of Nippon Kodo’s Aqua, a floral mix with a distinct seaside sort of aroma, not quite briny, but a more upbeat and pleasant approximation, like a mix of garden and beach. It’s going to be only for those who really go for a sample as with a box of 200 sticks, it’s one you’ll want to be sure you really like at first. I found it quite pleasant, but my experience with Aqua was the same and I found it quite cloying over time so I’d be hesitant even though I think this is a better incense.

Shorindo has been extremely active on the exportation of front after entering the US market with their Chabana Green Tea mix, in fact since I received the following samples, they’ve added two more incenses in the Chabana line. The first of the four samples here is the most traditional incense in this whole group, a sandalwood and cinnamon scent called Wayko. I love cinnamon so I found this instantly a winner, it’s not a particularly complicated incense, but it differs slightly from the traditional sense in that it seems polished and possibly made partially out of oils or perfumes. But give cinnamon essential oil is quite cheap, it all comes off quite authentic and just a bit stronger than the average Japanese traditional blend that doesn’t use oils like, say, Baieido Koh. It’s somewhat reminiscent of incenses like Shoyeido Horin’s Hori-kawa or  even Kunjudo Karin or its Gyokushodo analog Kojurin in scent, maybe in the middle of this group in terms of a traditional to modern axis.

Shorindo has also brought over three perfume incenses in a line called Kobiana. These are definitely far to the modern style and seem to exist to carry over previously created perfumes, although they seem a little different in that they’re not quite smokeless. I doubt my impressions are going to be particularly useful, so as an addendum I’d like to refer you over to Sprays of Blossoms, Curls of Smoke for a much more informed review before I take a clumsy stab at these.

All three of these sticks, despite the color names, seem to be a dark blue color. The Kobiana Yellow Cute is created to be reminiscent of Etro’s Magot perfume and the notes given are, on the top, bergamot, lemon, jasmine and iris; lavender and cloves in the middle; and patchouli, cedar, vanilla and musk at the base. Like with the Kirari, I have trouble picking these apart although at least I can distinguish this scent from the other two in this series as being distinctly floral and very reminiscent of the types of perfumes you run into being worn in the US. As is the case, I tend to get as much of the alcohol or synthetic scent as I do the florals and completely miss any of the elements supposedly in the base with, perhaps, the iris, lavender and jasmine the most obvious scents to me.

I have a lot of trouble telling the Kobiana Red Elegant and Kobiana Blue Sweet apart, but both strike me as fruit and florals, and like the Kirari above, both are somewhat reminiscent of Nippon Kodo’s Aqua in that they both have an almost watery like scent. The Red is reminiscent of Chanel Chance perfume, the Blue Etro’s Anice. The Red lists pink pepper, lemon and pineapple on top; hyacinth, jasmine and iris at the heart (likely where I’m getting the Aqua similarity from); and amber, patchouli, vetiver and white musk in the base. Strangely enough from this mix I get watermelon, cyclamen and the listed jasmine, but it’s such a light scent that with a sample it’s really hard to break it down. Similarly scented, the Blue lists Brazilian rosewood, anise and bergamot; the middle notes iris, jasmine, anise and garden dill; and the base notes amber, musk and vanilla. I’m not sure if the note similarities between these two incenses account for why I can barely tell them apart, but for some reason I wasn’t getting much anise or rosewood and still felt it was mostly watery, fruity and floral. In the end I had to separate the two and test them at different times just to confirm for myself I hadn’t accidentally gotten the same sample twice and to maybe convince myself I don’t quite have the nose for moderns like these.

Like Shochikudo, Tahodo has currently exported only one incense to the US, although similar to Shorindo Wayko, this is something of a modern/traditional blend. In this case Sekizan Koh is clearly something of a perfumed sandalwood stick and not authentic in terms of a pure sandalwood, but it makes up for it with a nice blend of clove, nutmeg and slight floral and citrus hints. It tends to the slightly sweet and in another life could have easily been added to, say, one of Daihatsu’s modern lines. Like most perfumed incenses I’m not sure how long I’ll last in terms of appreciation, but my initial samples were extremely pleasant and I liked it right away, especially due to the attractive nutmeg subnote.

More in the next installment including pairs from Nihon Senko Seizo, Saraike Kunbutsado and Scents of Japan.

Advertisements

5 Comments

  1. Robin said,

    December 13, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I just went to Kohshi in Japan Town and came home with an armload of wonderful incenses that Kotaro and Jay, the owners, helped my pick out. They showed me Wakyo and I loved it! I brought it home and everyone here loves it too. I have also grown quite fond of the Chabana Aloeswood. I have bought incense online after reading your reviews, but it is a such a lovely pleasure to shop at Kohshi, I feel lucky to live near such a great source.

    • Steve said,

      December 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

      Am so jealous of your proximity to Kohshi, Robin – we can only dream of such things in North Carolina 😀 I still don’t have a grasp on the size of the place – how would you describe it?

    • Scott said,

      January 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      I really like Wakyo too! It has the light clean floral quality of Ranka, combined with the spicy sweetness of Kyo Nishiki/Kyoto Autumn Leaves (my favorite of these three). But Chabana Aloeswood is definitely my favorite from this company; aloeswood’s sharp resin combined with a sweetness as rich as maple syrup – just can’t resist it!

  2. Janet said,

    October 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Really like the Wakyo, and also thought of Kojurin and Hori-kawa….
    Is the Kirari smokeless? I know it isn’t described as such, but I tried some a good while ago and was thinking I had thought it was? But age may be getting the best of me 🙂
    Also like the Tahodo, though I don’t burn the perfumed types often…i think, to me, it seemed somewhat like Taganohana.
    Now, my most pressing comment – how can I get the mobile site to work? I’m on my iphone, can’t turn the mobile site off, and can’t figure out how to post anywhere except the home page entries…”Ask the ORS” gives me nothing but the page heading. I lnow the answer is probably obvious, but I’m missing it.

    • Mike said,

      October 30, 2009 at 5:24 pm

      Hi Janet. I don’t remember the Kirari being particularly smokeless but sometimes it’s hard to tell with moderns, often even the ones that don’t say anything can be very low smoke.

      I’m afraid I’m clueless in terms of your question about the mobile site, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do on my end…


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: