Shunkohdo / Sarasoju, Zuika Koh (Revisit), Yoshino no haru, Ranjatai

Sarasoju is a nice, pretty straight up sandalwood. I am assuming that besides the wood that there is sandalwood oil as it has a very rich, deep sandalwood scent but you would need to use oil to get it to smell this way. Regardless, I think this is a winner and if you are looking for a sandalwood stick without other spices added into the mix then this could be one of your best bets.

Zuika Koh is an agarwood blend that has a large amount of patchouli added in as well as just a hint of borneol camphor and probably some benzoin. Of course since people who really know what they are doing produce this, there are probably at least five more ingredients in it that one cannot detect that add to all this 🙂  I think it is pretty much “oil-less” although it is also fairly strong, not by Indian incense standards, but for a Japanese traditional stick. It has a very smooth delivery and can produce a very pleasant aroma. I tend to use this later in the night rather then during the day as it just seems more suited to the late night hours. Then again it would work well in some retail environments to set the mood. [9/2/21 – Please note this is a revisit of Ross’ earlier review here.]

Yoshino no haru, at least in the long format, is a very thick square stick with a nice green color (I always have wondered if the colors actually mean something, some sort of secret incense code). It has the “greenish/herbal” scent of foenum graecum plus some borneol camphor and other spices mixed into an agarwood base. I think this is one of the masterpieces of their line as it also, somehow, conveys a slight floral note within all of this that is very elegant. In fact I think this, as well as Ranjatai, are pretty unique in the incense world (although for different reasons). I do not use this on a daily bases, more like once a week, but if I am seeking this kind of scent the alternative is something at twice the price from other makers. It does a great job of living up to its name “Smell of Spring”.

[9/2/21: There has been some talk about the profile of Ranjatai changing; however, I would say if it has it’s a fairly mild change and wouldn’t change this review. Please note there is also an earlier review from me on this one. – Mike] Ranjatai has always been a favorite of mine, as well as many of the reviewers here. My vote says it is still one of the greats. There is a noticeable agarwood scent in the background over which the scent of musk and some spices float. It is truly elegant and captivating. It is also very smooth, which only happens via the use of decent materials and a big dose of skill. There are a lot of sticks from many countries that try to use a musk note. They are all pretty much synthetic smelling sweet concoctions that miss the reality of musk. These guys do it right. Other then their Kyara Seikan (which takes the whole concept up a couple of notches) I cannot think of another incense that comes across like this. For what you are getting the price is really good. Not inexpensive, but worth it nonetheless.

I am planning on reviewing their kyara line up some time next month (after my bank account has recovered from this months buying spree).


Small Administration Post

I’ve deleted the “Recent Comment Activity” thread, and felt it was just time for a friendly reminder of what is considered acceptable commenting behavior at Olfactory Rescue Service. Of course as always 99% of you always seem to implicitly understand what’s OK and what’s not and we appreciate that.

The general rule of thumb is you’re welcome to say whatever you want about an incense. I honestly don’t even care how much vitriol one uses if they don’t like something, that’s what we’re here to share. Where it crosses the line for me is when a post is made that implies a person’s character (or lack of) is somehow responsible for their opinion, or that posts are being made in terms to favor one business or another – basically that ORS is somehow a conspiracy. Posts that are simply made to be negative, epecially when there is nothing to back up an opinion except for an assertion, aren’t welcome here. We are a friendly bunch, and I don’t like having to be unfriendly, but will if I think its necessary to keep up the integrity of the site.

Second, we do welcome businesses to weigh in and if you’re part of a business and have commented and it hasn’t been flagged then we are perfectly OK with the activity. But it’s important to keep in mind that many people subscribe to this site by e-mail and if I see an inordinate amount of activity from any particularly business, to the point where the feed starts to look like a sales pitch I will do something about it. Under no circumstances is it OK to solicit sales from our readers unless they specifically ask you a question about one of your products.  Nor is it OK to circumvent this rule by sending people over here to ask those questions. 

Most importantly, my staff or I don’t have to time to discuss or debate these rules, nor satisfy anyone’s sense of what is fair or not, we’ll just make the call we have to to ensure this place stays within the bounds we intend. We moderate all posts and if it gets passed that means we’re OK with it. If it doesn’t then I’d suggest changing the post and trying again. Ignoring or e-mailing my staff or myself (or even commenting in this thread) to nitpick over the rules will likely just have me turn the company reviews private until I get the message across. I don’t at all want to delete them permanently, after all, they are there for the consumer, but what I do want is respect for the boundaries we set.

Anyway hopefully this will be all I have to say on this subject for a while, I have upcoming reviews of a group of Shroff incenses I’ve been long meaning to talk about, the notes are all done, so it shouldn’t be long.

Back to the Future …New reviews of past Favorites

Some of our reviews are getting to be pretty old and there have been many changes in the incense scene since they were written. I was at Kohshi a few weeks ago and stocked up on some of my daily favorites and decided that it was time to “re-review” some of these. So in the near future you will be seeing reviews for produces from Shunkohdo, Gyokushodo and Baieido with more to follow as well as some great new  to ORS stuff as well…there is a really good kyara blend coming to town soon 🙂 -Ross

Mermade Arts New Electric Incense Heater:

Mermade has brought out a new heater, which Katlyn was nice enough to send me for a test run.

It is a completely different experience then the last one. In appearance it is a nice gloss black body with golden lotus flowers around it. It has a ceramic base that the actual ceramic heater rests within as well as a ceramic, vented, top. It presents an overall graceful appearance and would work pretty well in any setting.

It also has a temperature controller that when tested against the IR temperature sensor I used seemed fairly accurate. I do not think it gets as hot as the last model, but since that got hot enough to cook food in, not to mention scorching expensive wood, this is not a bad thing.

I have tested this on some frankincense’s, agarwoods and sandalwoods as well as a variety of blends and it works well. It is also very easy to use. You for sure want to use a piece of foil to line the heating bowl that sets above the actual heating element. I have already recommended this unit to a number of my friends as I think it is a good investment, as well as selling at a good price. -Ross