Update to Kyukyodo Catalog page


Thanks to a couple readers (Arisan and Glenn), we’ve managed to substantially update our Kyukyodo catalog page, including descriptions (several forthcoming) of incenses and their transliterated names. This has been a fun project, if nothing else that I become slowly more and more convinced that Kyukyodo may be at the apex of Japanese incense art. Hopefully we’ll be able to do this for more unimported companies in the future.



  1. Marian said,

    April 29, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Thank you everybody who’s doing the translating. You are so kind to take the time to translate and to share it with everyone. It is much appreciated.

  2. Christian said,

    April 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I love this post! Thank you so much.

  3. Taran said,

    April 23, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Arisan I am sitting here with a box of Zuifu now and agree I do see the resemblance to Misohagi. It feels smother and a bit more refined to me. I think of each scent being the same “place” but Misohagi is day and Zuifu night; the box art seems to tell that story almost. ( I think I showed my amateur statues at this hobby by thinking Misohagi had a low amount of Aloeswood hah.) Wish I spoke Japanese so I could inquire more with the sales staff about each scent. Have you tried Hakubaiko? I cant put my finger on what that spicy sweetness is! Do you have any must-haves from KKD? In Japan working only for another month.

    • Mike said,

      April 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm

      Taran did you manage to grab Benizakura? I think that one’s superb. Definitely grab Kinshikoh if you can afford it too.

      • Taran said,

        April 29, 2011 at 7:16 am

        Benizakura has been one of my favorites I’ve picked up lately. I was shown it after looking at Musaashino and Murasakino; was told today it has a lower quality but none the less still genuine musk in it by the senior staff member who has been patiently helping me on each visit. (Torn between either Kinshikoh or Musashino!) Grabbed a few odd things like the kneaded/’nerikou’ incense #510; definitely smells like something fermented/decomposed but in a pleasant way like wine. Has a thick Kyukyodo-ness I cant describe with a heavy smell of warm plums and soil; pretty interesting.

  4. Arisan said,

    April 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Taran-san, Misohagi is also one of my favourites! Interesting curry-type herbal accent there with a recognisable KKD sandal. Have you ever tried Zuifu? It is Misohagi’s close cousin, exactly the same herbal & spice accents but it is based in aloeswood. This pair is one of the good examples of the KKD integrity: they have really studied the ingredients, and the play with them produces here two oh so similar but still different incenses.

  5. Taran said,

    April 23, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Thank you guys for all the information! Have helped me out considerably; just spent some time at the Kyukyodo in Yokohama. A courteous sales rep helped me with my scrawl of notes from ORS go threw a bunch of there selection. Due to your review I picked up the smaller roll of Murasakino in pawlonia box and am loving it! I agree with Arisan they do seem to consistently offer a good product no matter what price range. Misohagi (Japanese for the Lythrum flowering plant to my understanding) has been a cheap favorite. Reminds me of a spicy and almost maple syrup infused low end aloeswood; its oddly good. Was able to just sample Musashino; was told it has a high content of deer musk by the sales staff thought that was interesting.

    • Mike said,

      April 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm

      Taran, after your comment about deer musk in Musashino (which might have a LOT to do with why we don’t see Kyukyodo much anymore: CITES) I pulled it out burned about a nanometer only to go oh wow, yeah it certainly does. Musashino is definitely a contender for best incense in the world, and now it’s more interesting realizing that angle. There’s really a LOT going on it.

      I should also sing the praises of Kinshikoh as well, which I think of as Kyukyodo’s version of Tennendo Enkuu. It has those super thick almost turpentine like aloeswood notes the Enkuu has but in a much greeener format, very sweltery and intense. I suspect this one will be a classic in my book in another week or two.

  6. Arisan said,

    April 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I agree with you, Mike, about the special place Kyukyodo has in the Japanese incense world. I think it is all about integrity and glorious profile they have created through the whole oeuvre. I can’t say all individual works (like Hatsuhana or Matsukaze) are unforgettable masterworks but they belong to an immediately recognisable family. And they certainly know how to play with their basic ingredients – is there any company producing as many elegant variations on the same sandal? Or the really individual jinkoh world they have made?

    I think no company in Japan comes even close to this. Well, Baieido has its points, as well as Tennendo, but the catalogues vary really much. Personally one of the biggest disappointments in this way is Gyokushodo: they have interesting premium series but what the heck are all those endless cartoon box cheap things with no integrity? I have never got really into this side of Gyokushodo, and I do not have much to say even about Jinko Yomei nor Hoen.

    • Mike said,

      April 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      Arisan, I think nearly every Japanese company has an incense profile from ethereal kyara to cheap sawdust. 🙂 But I couldn’t agree more about Kyukyodo’s profile and that their incenses belong to an immediately recognisable family, they really do have a trademark subscent or something that almost always shows up no matter how expensive or inexpensive the scent. And because of the way they’ve set up their catalog, where it’s not, for example, easy to tell which incenses are the priciest and such (due to widely varying packages, package weights, stick lengths etc), the company does really make a unique artistic statement.

      As to other companies, well it might only be fair to compare them to other companies with a similar breadth of catalog, such as Shoyeido and Nippon Kodo and I’d have to admit Kyukyodo will be hard to beat under those parameters, but with much smaller catalogs it’s hard to feel Baieido, Yamadamatsu, Tennendo and Kunmeido are totally out of the running, certainly all of them carve out niches the others don’t. I do know what you mean about some of Gyokushodo’s catalog having made the mistake of burning Hanabishi again last night, but they too have a lot over which they can be proud about (although a few of those still haven’t made it to the US yet).

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