Okuno Seimeido / Meiko Kunsui Aloeswood, Gokuhin Kunsui Aloeswood

It was the moment I realized (and later remembered) that some time after carrying the tube of Okuno Seimeido’s Gokuhin Kunsui from one area to another that most of it had fallen out on the carpet, breaking about half the sticks, that I don’t talk about or complain about incense packaging all that much. While the lids are a little different on both of these tubes, once they’re popped off (especially the Gokuhin) then they go back on far too loosely. So buyer beware just to be careful if you grab either one of these once opened. It’s not ideal, but it’s manageable. It strikes me that the Meiko lid fits on a little tighter, but I seem to have trained myself better to account for gravity shifts if I have to move these. Anyway, these two incenses are what I would describe as modern aloeswoods. Neither are going for a premium wood stick, they are stylized aloeswoods meant to be friendly and comfortable to the casual user. As such they are nicely inexpensive. Ginsen Kunsui was not available at the time I ordered the other two, so it has not been included here – I may have to circle around to this. However, fortunately we already have a review for this one here.

Meiko Kunsui looks to be the low end of what are essentially three different Kunsui aloeswoods. In some ways these Okuno Seimeidos are a bit analogous to most of the Kunjudo Karin range in that they are formulated mostly based on perfume oils. I might even describe the Meiko Kunsui as being a bit more of a sandalwood-aloeswood mix than a pure aloeswood. Anyway where more traditionals at this low a range can often lack a lot of aromatic punch, the ones with oil mixes like this can still be pretty satisfying in terms of having a full aroma. I don’t want to say that the Meiko is close to Kunjudo Karin Zuito (aka Golden Waves), but it does share a little of that aroma’s nutty side note. Overall the incense definitely has a bit of a perfume vibe to it, but still in a way that aims for a more traditional sort of aroma. Don’t expect this to be particularly woody, but to have a sort of general kind of aloeswood scent like you might find in a lower end Nippon Kodo.

Gokuhin Kunsui, for a few dollars more, is a much richer affair and much more in the ballpark of the upper end Kunjudo Karin range. This is where Karin Zuito is a better pointer, as finally we have some more noticeable wood elements in the mix. Mind you I would guess a lot of these are perfume enhanced, but it still does satisfy some need for the woody profile in an aloeswood scent. There’s an element to this that is nicely musky, with a bit of sweetness in the middle. I really like to sing the praises of a good, relatively affordable incenses (and yes I definitely want to get back around to the Karin line again as so many of those are wonderfully affordable) and this has what I would refer to as a bit of legit cheating in that it’s reminiscent of incenses in a somewhat higher price range. So good on Okuno Seimeido and Japan Incense for offering this kind of option. And if you end up loving it, it looks like you can get a big box too. And at 450 sticks for $65 that’s an even better deal, although you obviously better love it. Once again, this kind of incense is a bit more comparable to Nippon Kodo in style. It actually isn’t terrible far off NK’s Kyara Kongo except since it’s not trying to play pretend you don’t get the extra, somewhat cloying sweetness.


Okuno Seimeido / Ginsen Kunsui Aloeswood

This will be my first review of the new year!
Today I will be reviewing Okuno Seimeido’s Ginsen Kunsui Aloeswood, or green incense – singing* selection. The stick is your standard brown and is listed as containing “aloeswood and Chinese medicinal herbs”. On first lighting, I smell a hit of salty aloeswood with a touch of pine, with a mid note of plum, and a touch of cassia, nutmeg and sweet spice in the background. Overall I would describe this stick as a mild, sweet, woody floral scent. It is definitely a pleasing aroma, If you are a fan of floral and spice I would definitely give this one a try.

*I think I translated this correct :/

Okuno Seimeido / Kanbai

Okuno Seimeido have a small series of aromas that include  aloeswood, sandalwood, violet and this winter plum flower incense known as Kanbai. Most of these can be found in stock at the Asakichi incense store in San Francisco, although not on line. The stick is red, comes in fairly large size bulk and tends to the floral side in the same manner as many Nippon Kodo, Daihatsu and Kunjudo modern incense aromas. It strikes something of a balance between the plum flower smell and a scent more overtly rose-like or generic floral. Like many inexpensive florals, this tends towards the bitter side in its aroma, although it doesn’t go as far as, say, some of the NK brands and will likely be found pleasant by those who like modern incenses in this style. While most of the aroma seems to come from a perfume, the scent it gives off is often reminiscent of fresh petals itself, which gives it a bit of an earthy subnote. Thanks to Pinjie for the sample!