Gyokushodo: Hana no Sho (Bloom), Mori no Sho (Woodland), Nami no Sho (Wave)

I first got to try these over a year ago, when they were brought to me by a friend in Japan, and like a number of readers that I have noticed in the blog I was very curious about them. This was just before Japan Incense had brought in so many of the other offerings from Gyokushodo. Then, as now, I was impressed with the ingredients  it was also the first time I had even seen ambergris mentioned as an ingredient. These are made with very traditional materials and the ingredient list seems pretty simple, which means the quality of the materials has to be pretty good in order to work. There are six different blends in this series and Part One will look at three with Part Two finishing it off next week sometime. I had a friend translate the ingredient list from their catalog for me and decided to put that in also as it is so very rare to get something like this from any Japanese incense maker. These are available from Japan Incense/Kohshi.

Hana no Sho (Bloom): This one has a very up front sandalwood oil presence to it. It really stands out and comes across very differently from other Japanese sandalwood based sticks. It has a very “full” quality to it as the oil plus the woods really fill out all the corners and produce their own top, middle and base notes. If you like sandalwood it would be hard not to own this. This would also appeal to someone who is used to the Indian style and wants to sample Japanese incense.

[Ingredients] Tabu bark powder, activated carbon powder, Sandalwood, Jinsui Koboku (jinko,) Sandalwood oil,

Mori no Sho (Woodland): Very woody and spicy, a sort of classic Japanese grouping of incense materials. It is also extremely balanced. Just when you think its cinnamon, it might just be clove, but wait, that could be borneol, then there are woods but it is all done so well that they just keep mixing. This would be pretty fun as meditation incense, assuming it didn’t end up making you completely analytical.

[Ingredients] Tabu [Machilus thunbergii] bark powder, activated carbon powder, Jinsui Koboku (jinko,) Cinnamon, Cloves, Benzoin, Borneol,

Nami no Sho (Wave): This particular incense has caused me to spend quite a lot of money on ambergris. I was so taken with the smell, which was just different enough to really catch my attention, that I decided I wanted to use ambergris in my own incense. So I started to and my wallet has been in shock ever since. There is a sort of, but not quite, musky quality to this stick, but there is also a very subtle, very clean, marine background note that goes along with it. Plus ambergris has the somewhat unique ability to increase other scents in the mix(one of the reasons it was and still is so popular in perfume).This is also a really balanced blend with the different players sort of briefly stepping up to the front of the stage and into the lime light. This is a very beautiful, somewhat masculine in nature, scent with woods in the background while the spices and ambergris move through the top notes.



  1. Selena Joosten said,

    March 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I have been looking up the Nami no sho Wave and there is no Ambergris in it at all?

  2. April 21, 2012 at 12:28 am

    The 1050yen assort is great and you can also choose a gift assort for more. We at Kinan Kikikaku can ship you anywhere. Surface mail takes long but is cheap.
    Anybody like the Dentoh no Kaori Series? Traditional series? One of the scents is made in a coil, an incense in the image of nerikoh, it is called Maiko in a nice box , great for a gift.

    [A quick note here from the moderator, while we very much appreciate the information you’re sharing, we can’t allow for the discussion of business in the comments section, if we allow one company to do it we have to allow them all and that’s not a direction we want to go. I’ll edit out parts of comments that do this moving forward. – Mike]

  3. April 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Yes this is a great series and the top Ennoshoh is a coompetitor to the Shoeidoh Shokaku or Translucent Path.

    One minus thing is their boxes, they look like cheap castella cake boxes except the ones for gifts.

    My company has affordable samplers of all these fragrances only sold in Japan. If you are interested please mail me. There is also another option of the 6 fragrances so that yoou do not have to sped all money on buying each bundle,

    Please look for me as Satori Yamamoto on Facebook or just mail us.

    We are amused at how people outside of Japan know about Japanese incense and we are happy for that.

    We will put the small assort on Ebay.

    Gyokushodoh has the Dentoh no Kaori series which is more traditional. The Umeshoin Incense is great in that it is made in the image of Nerikoh or kneaded incense. It is available in room tyoe sticks and coils also.

    Please feel free to ask for any questions about Japanese incenses and wood oil fragrances which are also great.

    These are lile Hinoki, Hiba, Sugi, Koyamaki, Kuromoji etc all mainly tree like cypress or pine.

    We appreciate all of your interest in Japanese incense and are very happy for it.

    I am also looking for mail friends to talk about agarwood and Japanese incense etc.

    Thank you for reading.

  4. Lars said,

    March 14, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I wish EOTA would sell these, especially “Wave”
    Japan Incense doesn’t ship to Norway.

    Been interested in ambergris since trying Ocean of Night and Sandalwood and Ambergris.

    It seems really rare to find ambergris in incense.

  5. John Lytton said,

    March 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    The Vietnamese aloeswood has a kind of spicy ‘orange color’ feel for me. This is quite noticeable in the lower-end ones. The Nami smooths that out quite a bit, making it very rich, and creates a little bit of the ‘deer musk’ effect that some fine incenses have. I am not familiar enough with ambergris to really know it–perhaps that is what I am getting. Anyway I think they are all winners, and the Nami is for me the best balance point between luxury and price.

  6. hisham said,

    March 12, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Thanks for bringing this group to my attention. I just finished reading the whole line description at Japan Incense. It seems that it moves from East to west, from Vietnamese Kyara to Indian Sandalwood. Have you had a chance to try the Circle – En no Sho and Kaze no Sho (Wind)?

    • Robert "Popsrobert" Green said,

      March 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      Hello. I recently ordered two of the most recent Gyokoshodo arrivals at Japan Incense, the Mori-No-Sho and the Nami-No-Sho (hereafter referred to as Nami and Mori.) I long ago purchased everything Gyokoshodo that Japan Incense (hereafter referred to as JI) had to offer, and while I have enjoyed all of them I have never taken the time to sit down and really “listen” to any of them separately to form individual opinions or single out any particular favorite save one, and interestingly enough it is towards the less expensive end of Gyokoshodos offerings, it is Jinko Yomei! I have never been able to precisely pin down to name or label the one spicy/tangy component of Jinko Yomei that really stands out to me both before and after burning, that is until just now when I read what “John Lytton” wrote, calling it a “Spicy Orange Color”( I believe/hope that he was referring to a particular scent or note) and while I would not call it a “perfect” description, it fits better than anything I have come up with to date, and certainly well enough to just go with it. I would however really like to know what individual ingredient is responsible for that particular note as it is present In my two recent Gyokoshodo acquisitions, both Mori and Nami, that is they both seem to have the familiar “spicy orange color” to them in the unburnt state at least, with the Mori having a bit stronger content than the Nami, however neither one of them continues with any real detectability of this note when put to flame, at least nothing like Jinko Yomei, but this is certainly not to say that these are not two individually excellent offerings all on their own, they are! (To me anyhow!!!) what with them both being quite individual and excellent at the same time. These are both still new to me and with my busy schedule I have only had time to “enjoy” them in the room and not really been able to concentrate on them enough to “Listen in” on them to really define them for myself. It is kind of like having a book that having read the prequels you know is going to be good, sitting on the shelf with the anticipation of not quite knowing when you are going to get around to reading it. In my recent order from JI, when I got these two new Gyokoshodos’, Nami and Mori I was fortunate enough to find the gift of a sample of the Kaze No Sho[Hereafter, Kaze]. So for those wanting to know about this particular scent, I am happy to spill the beans. Kaze presents a problem to me similar to the others with an added issue, along with my still hectic schedule, since it was a sample I am limited to what I can do with it, that is until I have my own ample supply to really sit down and pull it apart with my nose. For now my initial impression of it is that I would liken it to a slightly damp but not wet(most certainly not dry) Kyara like just below some of the Minorien Fu-in Kyara. But also it has a very full bodied content, similar to perhaps Shiragiku, but without the semi synthetic-ness that I find in shirgiku’s Kyara note. Although I like Shiragiku well enough, the Kaze is an excellent amalgamation with no one particular note really trumping another{Of course this is only MY newly formed opinion} but without really shouting in any one particular direction it seems to me that Kaze may just have taken my TOP slot, only time(and lots’ of Kaze) will tell. One thing is for sure, that while I hold the two fine gentlemen at Japan Incense in extremely high saint-like regard, it seems almost like they played somewhat sneaky underhanded trick to have put that sample in there, knowing me as well as they do that I will stop at nothing to get a box of kaze. Gyokoshodo has always been a high quality product in my mind and an essential part of my collection and I don’t know if Kaze is new to their line or just to the states but it is certainly up there in quality and while pricey-ish, it is not priced like the exotic Shoyeidos, I {and I may offend some with this next statement}would easily and readily compare it to Myo-Ho, perhaps even Sho-Kaku, and this is without price as a going concern, when price comes into play, then there is really no difficulty in making a choice, that is unless you are impressed with spending way too much money and not getting anything more for it. So in summary I would definitely without hesitation highly endorse and recommend the purchase of Kaze-No-Sho, and if you decide you don’t like it then send the rest to me. I will close with this, If Kaze is this good then En-No-Sho terrifies me, if it follows suit with the rest of Gyokoshodos line and tendancies, it should be completely irresistable, and I don’t remember ever spending $375.00 on a box of incense with only 35 sticks in it. I only hold out hope that the sample if given will result in my being more satisfied with old Mr. Kaze. Wouldn’t life be just grand? If only. Popsrobert, Odifacatuer esq. (LOL)

      • John Lytton said,

        March 28, 2012 at 11:32 pm

        I think that ‘orange-colored’ note may be Vietnamese aloeswood. I think it is one of the cheaper kinds of aloeswood and a bit on the rough side, but that is where Japanese blenders can show their art. Also, as for the color, I think I was perhaps prejudiced because I first noticed it in the first Gyokushodo product I ever bought, Ho En. The sticks are brick/rusty orange. So I think that stuck in my mind. My favorite incense shop in Tokyo (Nenjudo in Asakusa) used to have the Kaori no Sho sampler pack. (I see it is listed in the JI page as well). It was very instructive, but the problem is that they only give you one stick of the high-end stuff, and often one stick is not enough to really get it–that was true with Sho-Kaku as well. One way to improve the experience for high-end sticks–just break off a small amount, an inch or less, and hold it in your hand while burning–well, until you have to put it on an ash bed or something. You get a closer impression, and can get multiple impressions from one stick. I would say the sampler pack is probably worth it to try the whole range.

        • Robert "Popsrobert" Green said,

          March 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm

          Hi John and thanks for the info. I have not been to Japan(fortunately or unfortunately, and i am not sure which, given my rather weak resistance towards buying just about anything Japanese incense-wise)as the first thing that I would do would be to bribe some locals into an all out incense shop and manufacturer tour first, and then depending on how little money I had left I would find a nice little out of the way place to stay and revel in the ambiance(Meditating while burning Japanese incense while actually in Japan it might be too much for me LOL) I have long been a miser especially with my better Kyara sticks and such having never spent a really large amount of money on any ONE particular roll or box, and since I am not rich and can’t justify spending my inheritance on incense(especially since I don’t have it yet) most of my better sticks have come to me by way of samples, believe it or not. As far as burning small amounts of a stick goes, combined with yours, my method which consists of inserting the stick ever so slightly into a “Half Dollar” sized pat of non hardening clay, works very well. Since most stick incense holders can easily waste a quarter to a half of an inch of incense, I have found that with the right kind of clay and all if it is inserted less than 1-16th of an inch in then it will basically burn down to a residue and that is about it. I already have the assortment sampler pack of the “No-Sho” stuff and that only served to prove to me what I already know to be true, that I will eventually be buying all of them. from the way you write it seems like you may travel or have traveled around, and the only thing that I would ask of you, right now anyway is if there are any other sources for good Japanese incense that is not one of the main ones that readily pop up on an internet search. Any information or ideas are always greatly appreciated. Ialso like good conversation to do with incense. Most sincerely, Robert “Popsrobert” Green

      • Michael Marquardt said,

        June 5, 2012 at 9:09 am

        Dear Robert,
        I just read your letter about Gyokoshodo Kaze in ORS ten weeks ago (March 26th 2012). I had to smile different times because the experiences you made with “Kaze” sound so familiar when I compare it to my own experiences. My first contact to Kaze: Jay and Kotaro sent me a sampler with my last order. Kaze was deep impressing – but I had just one stick. So I ordered it with my next order. Every time JI adds some free samples, and after a while these guys seem to know more about my nose and my liking than I do….Jay and Kotaro are doing a great job, that`s for sure. Have you tried Jinkoh Gohitsu /Five Brushstrokes (Seikado se-00216)?
        Of course this is only my opinion – a great deal. And it`s not expen-
        sive at all, about 16 $ for 50 sticks! Mike, Improved Scent Unlimited (LOL)

      • greg said,

        July 5, 2012 at 7:47 am

        good review. in my opinion, En no Sho is very subtle and doesn’t have nearly the force of Shokaku nor the acridness of the high end Baiedo kyaras. this is probably due to the addition of the activated charcoal base (a fixative that doesn’t contribute any additional scents to the oils – it also facilitates an even burn with less smoke – smoke=acridity) that is used throughout the line, and the Japanese penchant for subtlety. in a well-ventilated room, it will take the whole stick to leave you with the impression of kyara, though the scent will fade oh so quickly like a fleeting dream. at over 10 dollars a stick, it is a splurge. btw, if you have access to the Rakuten USA ordering system, you can buy a beautiful paulownia box sampler box, complete with ALL of the “elephant series” scents (and 4 sticks of En no Sho) for a mere $150 or so including EMS shipping.

  7. clairsight said,

    March 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Just realize that these are very Traditional Japanese, ie0 not super strong or “100 pace” type scents, but they do indeed get the idea across.

  8. March 9, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Well after reading this I just had to try some “Wave” – thanks Ross I know you have an amazing nose.

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