Shunkohdo: Sarasoju, Zuika koh, 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.

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 Foenun 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”.

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). -Ross

6 Comments

  1. June 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I picked up the Sarasoju on your remcommendation and absolutely love it. There is something about the straight up sandalwood that I’m such a sucker for. Thanks!

  2. Stephen said,

    May 13, 2013 at 6:15 am

    Hi, thanks for these reviews. I am a fan of both Haru no Kaori and Yoshino no haru. My Haru no Kaori sticks are long but not very thick or square, but the Yoshino are. I’m wondering if your review could be possibly referring to the Yoshino no haru? Also, my Haru no Kaori seems much more floral than your description.
    Thanks again,
    Stephen

    • Stephen said,

      May 13, 2013 at 10:07 am

      Sorry, I’m sure you are right and didn’t mean to call your review into question. Sometimes I get confused by these names. Wondering what you think of the Matsuba Pine? It seems to me to bear more family resemblance to Haru no Kaori than Yoshino no haru.
      Thanks again,
      Stephen

      • clairsight said,

        May 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

        Hey Stephen
        You were right and after thinking about it for a couple of days I made it back to wghere the box was and looked again. Apparently my brain had gotten very confused with too many boxes and I just now corrected the reviews to reflect the Yoshino no haru. Thanks for the hads up. I am assuming you are a Shunkphdo fan, good choice as they seem to be staying as true as possible to their originals, something that cannot be said for many incense makers who say they are.
        -Ross

  3. Barry said,

    May 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Thank you for the reviews. Yet more incenses to add to my wish list that seems to get ever longer 🙂

  4. Marian said,

    May 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks for the reviews, Ross.
    do you know if the musk note in Ranjatai is sourced from plant or animal material?
    This Spring I planted some muscari and was surprised how musky they smelled in the early morning when the sun was out.


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