September Top 10

September is here, bringing with it both the Fall Equinox (Sept. 23) and the Funk Equinox (Do you remember…the 21st night of September ?)

Ahem…without further ado, here’s the September Top 10:

Superior Hougary/Hojary Frankincense resin – slightly astringent and citrusy, these frank resins have been merrily melting on my electric burner for weeks (I start at 20 on my Supreme Incense burner).  This ebay merchant was mentioned to me by Ross, and the transaction was super smooth.  Make sure you look for “superior grade”.  Consider buying a couple of pounds or more if you need to justify the shipping cost from Oman.  The DHL shipping envelope they arrived in smelled so good I nearly wore it as a hat.

Baieido’s Kaden Kobunboku – the entire Kobunboku lineup is superb and affordable making it tough (and probably unnecessary) to single any one out.  But this spicy entry has been grabbing my attention lately.  Kaden doesn’t retain the plum tones of the regular Kobunboku and could be described as a thin-stick version of Baieido’s also excellent Kai Un Koh.  (Kaden presents just a bit darker and richer than Byakudan Kobunboku, which was almost tied for the Top 10 this month.)

 Shoyeido’s Enmei (aka Circle) is a sandalwood, clove & cinnamon blend from their “Selects” line.  It’s also considered one of Shoyeido’s two (with Seifu – Fresh Breeze) premium daily incenses.  And like it’s sibling, Enmei manages to evoke hints of more deluxe aloeswoods despite a lack of them in the mix.  A big leap aromatically from Shoyeido’s regular Daily line and worth the upgrade.

 Muro-machi (aka City of Culture) is another offering from Shoyeido, part of its Horin line.  Rich caramel laced with wafts of aloeswood, this is an indulgent aroma.  The short (about 3″) stick burns for 20 minutes or so and is perfect to drift off to sleep by.  I hear the coil version of this (and any of the Horin line) is even more deluxe, though I haven’t tried it yet myself.

Ikaruga, from Kyukyodo, is a sharp and sweet blend of sandalwood, frankincense and oils.  The frank component is quite like Tennendo’s frankincense – bright and fruity.  The remaining ingredients add a strong ‘green’ note that makes for a rich and satisfying whole.  A Hall-of-Famer that takes a bit of effort to lay your hands on these days, but well worth the difficulty.

Holy Land – this Tibetan offering from Tibetan Medical College is finally back in stock at Essence of the Ages.  It is the finest Tibetan incense I’ve encountered, with a rich, musky hit that is beyond intoxicating.  It never fails to send electrifying waves of deja vu through me.

Guiding Light – speaking of deja vu (deja vu about deja vu?), this incense from Les Encens du Monde also triggers all sorts of time travel and nostalgic ripples for me.  It makes one of those rare first impressions that surpasses “very nice” and immediately has you thinking about buying a larger supply.  There are numerous oils, woods and spices at work here and somewhere within this rich, dense floral/wood/perfumed collage I have commented on a distinct musk note that absolutely evokes TMC’s Holy Land (does anyone else notice this?)

Jungle Prince – It’s hard to go wrong with anything from Shroff.  I’ve burned this one a few times lately – with the shadows getting longer and a coolness returning to the evening breeze, it’s only natural to reach for incense with a bit more weight and punch.  A nag champa wearing cologne…

Heian Koh – is one of a couple of green aloeswood offerings from Kunmeido.   It was one of my earliest purchases and has remained stocked ever since.  A Hall-Of-Famer and a must-have for green fanatics.  (BTW – Asuka, Kunmeido’s other green stick, is oh-so similar but packaged in larger lots so its entry fee is considerably more.  If you break them down to $/inch, Heian Koh and Asuka are actually both around $.20).

After a 2006 trip to Peru, I was briefly interested in all-things-Peruvian and discovered Palo Santo Wood Chips (see bottom of page).  These homogeneous, rice-sized chips may be burned on a makko trail or charcoal, but the electric burner is the tool of choice for eliminating smoke, eliminating any harshness from burning, and fully releasing their bouquet (I start at about 30 on my Supreme Incense burner).  Palo Santo is a truly unique scent that is both warm and energizing.  It has a wonderful and pervasive sweetness with the slightest hint of cedar in the top and an effervescent spearmint-like middle.  If you are looking for something new and different to try on your burner, Palo Santo is a refreshing change of pace.  It’s very inexpensive and a perfect companion for the arrival of autumn!



  1. Anne said,

    September 29, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Been swamped at work Steve, so haven’t had a chance to read/reply till now. Anyway, really nice list! BTW, your mention of palto santo chips reminds me that I need to put some on my burner. It is indeed a good scent for autumn!

  2. Alex said,

    September 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Oh gosh, I love Heian Koh. I’m kinda sad because I’m now back at school again, where incense is not allowed… But it certainly gives plenty of time to compile a nice little list for Christmas break 🙂

  3. Ross Urrere said,

    September 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Check out this Palo stick from Mermade. It is the real deal and one stick(whick sort of looks like a cigar) is way more then most can handle at a sitting.
    Review on this line soon.

  4. Hamid said,

    September 19, 2010 at 1:05 am

    .’Tis synchronicity Steve…

  5. glennjf said,

    September 18, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Well now, in my book a frankincense scented DHL shipping envelope hat wins hands down over the usually touted internet tinfoil hat often worn by internet users, enlightening vs enlivening?

    I’ve held off purchasing any Hougary/Hojary Frankincense resin from anywhere so far but I do have a sampler size,1.5oz tin of Majesty Frankincense here with me which I’ve managed to have sent over. Would you consider to swap a few grains of your gear Steve, for some of what I’ve here? Set me up to be able to experience the real deal via sample, at the same time you’d be able to feedback whether what I have is comparable in anyway. Mike has my contact details.

    We have our own Australian Baieido Wholesaler/online Retailer (see Review your Incense Retailer page for details). I have been lucky to be able to experience early in my incense journey a few from the Baieido stable including their Kaden Kobunboku. Every incense I’ve sampled from Baieido has been excellent. Their most recent release “Tobiume” isn’t available from within Australia yet but I have tried it already and found it terrific, it has that “Kaden” edge to it too, unless I’m mistaken. The incense I’ve found myself thinking about time to time, suddenly and completely out of the blue is Syukohkoku “Silk Road”, might have to haul out a stick and revisit that one later today, soon as I light this one I’m immediately transported inside a yurt pitched somewhere in the vicinity of the Himalayas/Mongolia.

    Janet has helped me out sending a sample of the Holy Land, a revelation for anyone who has tried it so I’d read here, the exact truth as it turned out, the moment I lit the sample it went to the top of my wish list. She also sent me a stick of the En Mei which I also added to the “the list”. You call her FOO, But she is also FOG, Friend of Glenn 😉

    • Janet said,

      September 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm

      And very appropriate that is, too….
      Glenn has waited ever so patiently for me to get my act together (on more than one occasion)…
      because I am, indeed, a foggy foo’.

      • glennjf said,

        September 18, 2010 at 7:17 pm

        1. Please send me the how to instructions for act getting together at your earliest convenience, have need of same.
        2. Re: Garnering patience. Have discovered that burning incense has aided me tremendously.


    • Hamid said,

      September 19, 2010 at 1:07 am

      For the sake of accuracy rather than negativity I would say that Holy Land was not a revelation for EVERYONE who tried it…..rueful smiley….

      • glennjf said,

        September 19, 2010 at 1:47 am

        Botheration Hamid! I must have missed your previous comment. The Incense Trading Wiki might be just the place for your HL? I think there’s a good chance it’d find another home there without too much mucking around.

        I’ve recently received you previously suggested as worthy Sandalwood Supreme Incense from Hawaii. I love it, there’s a refreshing citrus scent to the unlit stick i really like, very nice. I’m hoping the Australian MiniMela Shop will be carrying this incense when it opens.

        • Hamid said,

          September 19, 2010 at 2:03 am

          I am afraid that my wife likes it Glenn. So it wont get traded. i actually bought it for her. Being a tolerant fellow and all.
          Its certainly an improvement on most Tibetan sticks……..She burns one she bought from a monastery in Kathmandu that to my nose smell just like someone has set the cat on fire.
          But Tib. incense just aint my bag…..

          • glennjf said,

            September 19, 2010 at 3:28 am

            You are a good man Hamid. I imagine a cat would smell terrible when lit. If ever I decide to try one I’ll use the electric heater instead of a match, you never know, might make the difference!

            • Hamid said,

              September 19, 2010 at 4:39 am

              Glad you like the MInimela Sandal , Glenn, Incidentally its another one that ages well.

    • glennjf said,

      September 26, 2010 at 5:29 am

      Not sure exactly what went amiss with the Majesty Frankincenselink above? It doesn’t forward to where I thought it would? Here’s another I hope will direct correctly…

    • glennjf said,

      January 2, 2011 at 5:32 am

      I’ve now experienced first hand some Hougary/Hojary Frankincense resin, many thanks to Kim and Muhanna. Muhanna sells the resin and produces the fantastic Omani Frankincense sticks spoken about here.

  6. Janet said,

    September 18, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Get. The. Hat. Out. Of. The. Garbage.
    Winter’s coming, and you know you need a new one!


    • Steve said,

      September 18, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      LOL! (btw – 11 days)

      • Janet said,

        September 18, 2010 at 6:14 pm

        I think instead of an inch of kyara (of which I have little) – I shall burn a whole stick of Enkuu! Especially since I know that is a favorite of yours, Esteban.

  7. Janet said,

    September 18, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I burn a lot of Guiding Light, not a lot of Holy Land though….so I’ll have to check that out, because the comparison never occurred to me. I think Mike used the word “kaleidoscopic” lately, and that’s what GL is to me – a really intense woody presence that ranges from crystal-clear to almost musty at times, combined with a huge range of herb/spice subscents (although floral is something I never caught, myself).
    BIG fan of both Enmei and Seifu, as well as Heian Koh! Great picks!

    (is it time to be burning the celebratory kyara, Esteban??)

  8. Hamid said,

    September 18, 2010 at 11:59 am

    “A Nag Champa wearing cologne ” very nice ( simile…metaphor ? )…whichever , its apt for Jungle Prince.
    Hougary is the bees knees isnt it ?

    • Steve said,

      September 18, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      Bees knees indeed, Hamid! With so many incenses having frankincense as an ingredient, it’s nice to experience the top-grade “raw material” first hand. It’s of course fabulous in its own right, but also good to have as a quality reference point/standard.

      (BTW – I have never said “bees knees” and out of nowhere used it this week in an email to Mike. And now here we are saying it again – very strange. I wonder how to account for its resurgence in the lexicon?) 😀

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