April 2012 Top Ten

1. Dhuni Frangapani: Maybe one of the best flora’s around. It smells a lot more like the real flower then, say, as essential oil. It is also not cloying or overly sweet. A remarkable incense and well worth the price (actually it is dirt cheap compared to most Japanese scents, I am clueless as to how they manage to do this).

2. Dhuni Citronella: I really like the somewhat sharp top note in this one; it is unlike anything else I am familiar with in incense. The floral notes that follow behind are also very nice and like the Frangapani not cloying. A very nicely balanced scent.

3.Tennendo Enkuu: One of the last words in a dry scented incense. Very elegant and austere as well as a great mediation tool. Lots of Vietnamese Aloeswood make this unique and a real winner.

4. Kyukodo Murasakino: This comes in a truly beautiful wooden presentation case, inside of which is a scroll shaped tube covered in dark silk. The sticks are a deep shade of green and have a wonderful aloeswood base upon which a stunning, somewhat indescribable floralish/spice/perfume set of notes ride. I cannot think of any other maker that does this as well as Kyukodo. This is a real show stopper and is also a very classical “Old Japan” scent offering. They seem to have pulled out all the stops on this one, the word “flawless” comes to mind.

5. Kyukodo Seigetsu: A beautiful Japanese floral based on aloeswood. More overtly floral then Murasakino but less sweet then Azusa. Somewhat like Jasmine but with notes of Honeysuckle and some other white flowers. Like some of the offerings from Kyukodo there is a very slight under tone of charcoal (at least to my nose) but in this case the overall floral is so beautiful that it just does not matter.

6. Mermade Hougary Light Green Superior Frankincense: If you like Frankincense you should get this. It has been hard to get really top quality green Hougary and I am glad that Katlyn has found a source. This has a really clear citrus note riding across the resin backround that is pretty unbeatable. A winner.

7.Baieido Byakudan Kobunboku: One of the all time incense deals and still going strong. Given the recent price increases in sandalwood I was a little worried but having used this for the last ten days or so and compared it to an older box it still rocks. I tend to judge most other sandalwoods by this one. It has a very well done and classic set of spice notes (cinnamon, clove, camphor and lord only knows what else) that add to the blend.

8. Minorien Granulated Aloeswood Blend: A great loose aloeswood blend for the electric heater or coals. Very spicy with a big dose of Japanese/Chinese herbs mixed in at a very reasonable price. Somewhat dry in nature without all the overt green notes that can tend to be in these blends.

9. Yamada Matsu Firebird Select (Houjoukoh Gokuhin): There is a wonderful dry, aloeswood set of notes here on top of which clove, borneo camphor and a host of other notes are riding. The wood really makes this loose mix, which reflects the price. I have found my hand reaching for this a lot since I got it from Kohshi in San Francisco.

10. Baieido Kai un Koh: Because sometimes you just need an incense that can run with the big dogs 🙂 Very deep, thick, strong, multi layered, strong and with an amazing balancing act between dry and spicy, not to mention strong. Not for all occasions but just the thing for some moments. There are a lot of reasons that this has been in so many Top Ten’s at ORS, all of them viable.




  1. David Oller said,

    July 24, 2012 at 11:28 am

    About Kyukyoto: The problem may be this is a retail store in Japan specializing in selling paper they make themselves, there incense is a “private label” manufactured by others. They probably won’t sell wholesale making their product difficult to wholesale or retail in the USA

  2. David Oller said,

    July 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Jacob, I would like to know more about this situation with Kyunkyodo. I met the owner when I was in Tokyo and I find this confusing. Is the problem with one source of supply. Have you spoken with Kotaro at Kohshi in SF?

  3. Lars said,

    July 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Late comment, I know.
    I want you to know I really appreciate the posts you, Mike and Marian makes, and the top-ten is my favorite.
    Hope there will be another one this month!

  4. Jacob Holmes said,

    July 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Any new info on Kyukyodo and their banning of USA customers from buying their incense? I guess we’re not allowed to e-mail Essence of the Ages about it.

    • Mike said,

      July 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      Jacob, call over to Japan Incense they’ve managed to stock quite a few Kyukyodos. I also have some left, you can use my about page to find my e-mail.

  5. Mike said,

    May 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Great list Ross. I cycled through the Enkuu again recently, undoubtedly one of the all stars. I need to get some of that frank from Katlyn too! That’s also a great point about the Citronella, almost every lemongrass or citronella scent tends to make me a bit overwhelmed, but this one hits a much better balance.

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