Shunkohdo / Kyara Houzan

ORS spent quite a bit of time back in the “early years,” in reviews and top 10 lists, singing the praises of Shunkohdo’s Kyara Aioi No Matsu and Kyara Seikan. Both are superb and affordable entries into the kyara field. However, unless I missed it somewhere, we never covered the most high end of these kyaras, the deluxe Kyara Houzan. It reminds me of something that comes up a lot when I cover the really high-end incenses and that’s if you’re going to put this kind of price on it than it better be worth it. And most of the time and surely in this case, the incense fits the price. Kyara Houzan has a very noticeable green kyara note to it, it’s much more than the hints you get in the other two incenses. Everything in the bouquet goes to serve this fine wood and if there are any oils at all they are in service to what is a very wood-based incense. With any incense of this premium quality, this is an extraordinarily complex incense and not because it has been buffed up with ingredients but because aloeswood of this quality is the sort of stuff that lifts and inspires the imagination. It’s almost like no burn is exactly the same because the aroma reaches so far down into your memory that it will pull up all sorts of associations from the past in the almost automatic hope to identify subscents that are so rich, deep and unknown that they’re nearly archetypal.

How do you describe something of this complexity? Well if you know green kyara, it’s a start, this wood is concentrated and has those almost evergreen like overtones that most aloeswoods don’t have as much. But it is only part of the overall wood profile, which is rather broad. There are caramel notes and a bit of a sugary sweetness in there somewhere, but for the most part this is a sumptuous, regal, elegant and dry burn. There’s a bit of wilder spice as a delicate touch too, but it’s almost like something you have to reach for to hold onto it. There’s something about great aloeswood incenses where it almost feels like you’re looking at some polished slice of wood with a beautiful array of whorls and knots. Everywhere you look the majesty of nature abounds. Stupendously beautiful stuff, a kyara worthy of the name.



  1. ohhnoshedint said,

    July 28, 2022 at 10:39 pm

    Have you ever tried one of the green tea japanese sticks? If so, do you know that smooth, sweet, rich major note? I remember detecting that same scent, or something very much just like it, in the Aioi no Matsu. So, it could be the green tea stuff that is mixed into this Houzan stick.

    • Mike said,

      July 29, 2022 at 7:16 am

      I have and it seems reasonable, will have to look for that the next time I have Houzan out!

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