Gyokushodo’s new Nerikoh – Kusa no To, Hanafuna, Shiun

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Its been a while since I wrote a review! I have been trying to reign in my budget a bit by going through my existing stockpiles before purchasing anything new, but I had the opportunity to try Gyokushodo’s new line up of nerikoh offerings earlier today thanks to Kotaro-san from Japan Incense.

On first analysis all three blends contain the typical Ume-gaka style ingredients, including camphor, clove, cassia and agar wood. They each start off with a blast of camphor and clove, and then settle down into a sour plum fragrance, and eventually wrapping up with a nice woody agarwood aroma. The difference in the three though is the concentration of ingredients. Whereas Kusa no To is the lowest price point of the three, it is obvious it has less of the key ingredients than the next two up the line, and does not project as much. Hanafuna ups the game a bit, and Shiun does that but also seems to have extra agar wood added to it.

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Yamadamatsu Shu-yu series:

The Yamadamatsu Shu-yu series has been around for some time but has never gotten much attention here. This is more in the realm of a heads up rather then full on review, there are no “lesser lights” in this line up. You might think of this set as a sort of “Laboratory Standard” in stick form as to what good wood based incense is supposed to smell like. To a large degree this smells like incense used to. The scents are the deep agarwood scent of high resin content that one might have found in a Rikkoku set from years ago. Each as a slightly different scent to it that is reminiscent of its name.

I think the current batch is pretty close in scent to the ones I have from five years ago but given that my older sticks were not keep air tight it gets hard to tell. It is, to my knowledge, the only series of its kind (at least on a major commercial level, Kyarazen’s single area sets are also along these lines).

Japanincense/Kohshi sells these at a remarkable price, one, which is pretty much at Japanese retail and  makes these a great deal. The Yamadamatsu line is one of the very few that is sold in this country at these prices and this includes their other incenses as well as their pure wood pieces.

The Kyara sticks tend to go out of stock the fastest which is somewhat humorous to me as the others smell just as wonderful but of course we all get stuck on the Kyara hype.

I highly recommend these, the 15 stick sets in the presentation case are a work of art and very affordable, plus you get the case they come in. -Ross

Forthcoming reviews: Yamadamatsu, KyaraZen and Nu Essence

So after making a recovery from about a three week fight with sinus infections and allergies I am about to put up some reviews.

Yamadamatsu’s Shu-ju line has expanded and it seemed like a good time to once again take a look at it. Also KyaraZen sent me two new creations done in a somewhat different style then what has come out so far, plus a number of agarwood blends. Last, but not least, I got a box with the entire incense line up from Nu Essence and will probably break this up into three reviews. Hope to get at least one of these out by the coming weekend. -Ross

Baieido Rikkoku Six Countries Set for sale

I am selling an Baieido Rikkoku Set purchased in 2008 on EBay if anyone is interested.

Pretty sure the woods in this set are much better then what is available today. Pictures and weights are in the listing.

You can also contact me by email, address is under my bio.

 

-Ross

 

Shoyeido – Nijo, Shirakawa, Genroku, Muromachi, Tenpyo

Nijo on first impressions is a heavily perfumed sandalwood stick, on first light I get a strong floral top note of jasmine and wisteria, with a mid note of fruit (maybe apricot or green grapes?) and a slight hint of vanilla amber and talcum.

Shirakawa is a stick with a rich, full bodied scent of vanilla and amber, with a hint of floral and dry sandalwood in the background. There is also a tiny base note of talc hiding out in the burn.

Genroku is quite diffrent from the first two, in that it has no overt perfumes or oils that I can tell, and insteads seems to be composed of a blend of aloeswood, with a top note of cambodian or vietnamese aloeswood and a base note of sweet agarwood.

Muromachi seemed to have a sweet spiced scent to it, with a blend of agar and dry sandal at the base.

Tenpyo is straight vietnamese agarwood, with the rich resiny aroma associated with such.

Yamadamatsu Shihou Kyara

Where to start. A note on the name, Shihou in Japanese means ‘all directions’. I put some prep time in before I lit this coil to take notes on it, cleansing my olfactory senses with coffee beans and ensuring the room was free from other scents, etc etc.
This coil is all wood. It immediately hits you with concentrated, pure aloes wood scent, with a rich turpentine backed up by a light rosy cedar sweetness, mixed with a hint of ozone. This is by no means a 100-paces style incense, even though it comes in a coil. You will definitely want to sit down and listen to this one on a personal level.

Gyokushodo Jinko Kojurin, Jinko Hoen, Jinko Yozei: Current Stock

All of these have been reviewed some time ago here at ORS but there are a lot of changes going on in the incense world (things like a scarcity of materials as well as huge prices increases in the raw ingredients) so I thought it would be interesting to not so much compare them to the old ones as much as just take a present time look at where some of my favorites are now. I think, in general, that the biggest difference is in the woods and how they are used by many manufactures. But since there is not a lot we can do about that it is a good time to get sample sizes and see what moves you.
Jinko Kojurin: Sort of the start of the agarwoods blends for Gyokushodo it has a somewhat musky base mixed with a light perfume scent. All this floats above the woodnotes. This might be a good place to start if you were very used to Indian style incenses. There is a somewhat sharp or tangy character in the overall scent profile which many will find agreeable.
Jinko Hoen: The classic Japanese incense smell, Agarwood, Sandalwood, Camphor, Cinnamon, Clove. I am sure there are quite a few more things in here but it is so well done that I cannot tell what they are. Just opening the box is a treat in itself. When lit the different materials blend into a very harmonious whole that is much greater than the single parts. This is not a strongly scented stick and I have been known to burn two at once but this seems to be a trait of many of Gyokushodo’s offerings. I think this is a real winner as well as a good buy.
Jinko Yozei:  This is beautiful. Woody, smooth and on the somewhat “sweet” side of agarwood’s scent profiles. Like many of the incenses from this company it is also mild, although a friend(who is Japanese) finds it just right. If you are looking for woody type incense, without too many other additions this would be right up your ally. For sure this and the Jinko Hoen should be in the Hall of Fame, they really are treasures.

Yamadamatsu Shoyo & Shigei

Yamadamatsu’s Shoyo is quite enlightening, hence the name as it is written here means “Shining Light”. This coil has a strong initial top note of both vanilla and a resinous labdanum scent, combined with at first a woody, salty aloes wood that eventually fades to a mid/base note of cedar. There’s not much else to say other than this is a wonderful scent well worth the price.

Shigei on the other hand is all about the wood. Unlike its predecessors, this coil forgoes any blend and instead contains a straight blend of Vietnamese aloes wood, with a top note of buttery, salty aloes wood to its scent. With a price of 10$ per coil, it is definitely a incense you will want to sit down with and study.

Yamadamatsu Gyoka

Yamadamatsu’s Gyoka blend is the lowest of the line of aloeswood coils currently available. It has a top note of strong, slightly sweet, spicy, peppery aloeswood, alongside a buttery mid note of medicinal herbs and a touch of lysimachiae herba. Overall it reminds me a lot of a Baiedo blend, but slightly sweeter. The fragrance of this blend has a bit of a learning curve to it, and after a bit of time spent with it, it begins to remind me of an old log cabin, with the rich turpentine and wood scents that one associates with such.

Yamadamatsu Fujitsubo

This will be the first of my reviews of several Yamadamatsu scents I recently picked up from the wonderful people over at Japan Incense. Fujitsubo means (in the way it is written here) jar of wisteria, and comes in two forms, stick and coil. I am basing this review off of my impressions of the coil variant as I write, and I am immediately confronted with a sticky sweet floral reminiscent of a strong perfume. I get top notes of vanilla and lavender, with mid notes of rose and a base note of talcum powder and a slight, slight hint of spice. There is not a strong learning curve to this mix, as all the scents are quite up front and easy to pull out. At the very lowest end of the Yamadamatsu coils, this incense should be a pleasing treat to anyone who loves strong, sweet in-your-face florals without breaking the bank.

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