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

Advertisements

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

 

Kyarazen Monthly Newletter

Kyarazen posts a more or less monthly digest of informative articles, covering everything from fine tea to fine agarwood. I found this months to be most informative and timely, covering the two obvious lines of soil agarwoods on the market, as well as in depth information and pictures of what you should be looking for when you put large amounts of money out for wood which in many cases is coming from 1000’s of miles away with a “no return” policy. The article clearly points out how to tell the difference between what used to be traded as opposed to what is being sold in the last few years as meager copies. While many incense users only notice this as a decline in the quality of the incense stick they used to love, it was most noticeable in the quality of wood being sold out of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and today, even from Japan as the last of the old logs are consumed. While I got to see only a sampling of this decline during my 25+ years of trading in the wood, it is hard to beat Kyarazen’s view from Ground 0, so to speak, in Singapore, as well as the vast amount of research that he has done over the years. I really appreciated seeing the pictures of what is no longer possible to obtain (barring a lottery win, inheritance, etc.), as well as concise and easy to understand information. The article can be read here http://www.kyarazen.com/soil-agarwoods/

Yellow Kyara, a message from J. K. DeLapp

The following is a message from our good friend J. K. DeLapp at Rising Phoenix. Please direct all inquiries to the e-mail address below. Comments are disabled on this post. There has been some controversy over this offer (including a member of my staff, someone highly respected when it comes to this subject), so I would like to direct your attention to the comments section of this page which I have opened up for discussion. These comments include JK’s documentation about kyara, which, even if you’re not going to go for the offer, is very informative and interesting and worth the read. I want to reiterate that JK runs a sound business and the controversy over whether this is kyara or not should not reflect on his ability to deliver on this offer. I have allowed civil discussion in the above linked thread because it’s not for me to make the call on what is kyara or not, but at least it should give the buyer information in order to make their choice.  – Mike

Hello!

I’m in the process of getting my hands on some Kyara dusts – namely Red and Yellow Kyara dust.

Reliable supplier whom I’ve done business with for a long time.

The material is sourced from a construction company that uncovers the materials on building projects (as most Kyara is buried in the soil between 1-5 meters). So – this is definitely ethical material. 😃

The dusts are of superb quality, comes from “breakaway” loose pieces when the chunks are unearthed, and is ideal for making compounding further into incense – or using as is. Less than rice grain quantity is needed for use on it’s own – and will fragrance a room for hours. I use it in my clinic to great affect!

Whereas the price of buying Kyara is often closer to $750 per gram, these Red and Yellow Kyara dusts are being offered at the nominal price of $75 per gram.

I’m purchasing a fairly large quantity (part of why I’m getting a great price) – and could use a little help with the hefty bill of the large score.

Would be great if folks could handle picking up 1 or 3 or 5 or 10 (or more) grams!

**This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to pick up the rarest of incense materials at a fraction of the market price.

Payment would be up front – and I’ll have the material direct from the source in 3-4’ish weeks. I can then ship the quantity you’ve purchased directly to you.

A little goes a LONG way in compounding incense (used kind of like “salt and pepper” in food…just a pinch is all that’s needed) – or can be used as is for the most luxurious experience.

Again – this is for Red Kyara and/or Yellow Kyara dust. This is known as “breakaway dust” from larger pieces (as they are cleaned of any loose pieces), which is why I am able to get such a phenomenal price on this incredibly rare material.

This offer is a bit time sensitive – so if you’re interested – please do speak up ASAP!

If interested – please do email me ASAP at: JDeLapp@TheRisingPhoenixGroup.com

Thanks! 😃😃

PS – a photo of a 53.2g piece of Yellow Kyara that I have – as an example of the quality these dusts come from:

123 4 5

Kyarazen’s Artisinal Incense: Enko, Old Sage and Zen Moon

Kyarazen has spent the last two months creating a trio of luxury incenses. Each embodies a unique character and personality and creates a different mood and atmosphere. That an artist can compose olfactory poetry, using nature’s raw materials, is truly amazing and inspirational! Thank you, Kyarazen, for sharing your painstakingly crafted reflections. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to try them.

ENKO

Kyarazen’s Enko is a larger than life scent- one that unabashedly fills a room with its hypnotic presence. It immediately reminds me of the interior of a traditional Chinese medicine shop where the mysterious scents of roots, barks, herbs and fungus, seashells and mineral extracts, and animal and insect components, are compounded into remedies that have been used for over 2000 years.

Enko has a rustic vigor that settles on my shoulders and burrows into my clothes with confident persistence. It is primarily a bitter scent, whose liveliness and energy are enhanced by warm herbs (turmeric, spikenard), woods (sandalwood), spices (pepper?) and salty mineral notes (shells).

Rather than unfolding note by note, the elements fuse to create a very dynamic and dense scent. This combination of vibrant buoyancy and weighty substance is unexpected and intriguing. I find myself inhaling it’s unfamiliar, medicinal aroma more and more deeply, and feeling invigorated by its penetrating presence.

To me it is very much an earth toned scent- russets, ochers and ambers; the scent of rugged escarpments and expansive plains. Although it is a quintessentially Chinese scent, Copeland’s Fanfare For the Common Man celebrates the same strength and openness that Enko, more humbly but not any less passionately, encapsulates.

OLD SAGE

Old Sage is an exceptional sandalwood incense that continues to perfume the air with the sweet scent of Santalum album long after it has finished burning.

Held breaths of silence punctuate this milky, opalescent fragrance that wraps its user in a haze of tranquility and mellowness. The fragrance is so intoxicating that I long for its reappearance during those vacant, scentless intervals.

Old Sage is more restrained than Kogado’s Hoshinohayashi, and its creamy notes are tempered with a hint of dry bitterness and salty mineral odorants. Inhaling the smoke has a strong physical effect: lured into a complacent daze, I’m happy to drift away, my chin nodding to my chest, my shoulders limp, my mind a puddle of blurred and melting images. Perhaps this smooth, undulating incense has already become an addiction? If so, it is one I willingly and wholly embrace.

Mutton jade; an anniversary pearl; a carnelian snuff bottle with sloped shoulders. Massenet’s “Meditation” from Thais. Golden mercury.

ZEN MOON

Zen Moon is delicately transparent. It is luminous, ethereal and elegant yet it radiates dignity and calm. The scent drifts in and out of my consciousness, dry and aloofly bitter, a cool, crescent moon sickling crystal waters. Intermittent surges of resinous sweetness, wavy lines of lactones and wisps of earthy herbs add complexity, dimension and depth to the scent, but the composition is, above all, a reverent homage to the stately and austere woody scent of agarwood.

Unlike Enko, a sustained note that never vacillates, Zen Moon is a fugue, its shadows and overtones embellished adornments of Aquilaria’s meandering melody.

Silver solitudes, a wooden box embossed with almost forgotten memories, the permanence of impermanence, Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor.

Kyarazen wrote “What I had wanted to achieve with Zen Moon is to create a special space, a hollow, omnipresent clear quietness, and the incense presenting itself in that background, weaving through the air, allowing the perceiver to experience wafts of scent like the clouds that drift slowly past the full moon in stainless light.“

He has certainly succeeded.

For more information about these incenses please see:

http://www.kyarazen.com/making-incense-sticks/

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.

Seikado Gokujo Kyara and Minorien Kyara Chogo No. 5 ( Five Notes)

Seikado Gokujo Kyara: There is a style of incense that, in the US, Sho-kaku has come to be the example that we all refer to. Probably because it got here first and is also one of the greats. There are, in reality, a number of other Japanese incense makers who produce similar scents that Kohshi has brought into the US by this point and Seikado’s Gokujo Kyara is certainly one of the best. It has all the wonderful musky notes dancing around the central deep wood/kyara somewhat vanilla scents that I have seen literally stop people in their tracks when first smelling it. There are none of the charcoal notes that some of these mixes have, which I find a little hard to deal with. I think this is a wonderful incense and worthy of anyone’s collection, plus it comes at a great price for what you are getting.

Minorien Kyara Chogo No. 5 ( Five Notes): Kyarazen sent me a stick of this to try some months ago; it was love at first scent! There are the “wet” notes Minorien is known for but they are much more restrained then in the Kyara Ryugen, there is also a much stronger or noticeable overall wood presence then the Ryugen. But what really sets it apart, at least for me, is a sort of honeyed scent that flows in and out of the overall mix. This is not dominating but rather adds to the refined nature of this incense. I think this is one of the best sticks on the market at any price point.

I am working on a Top 10-20 for sometime in December, stay tuned!

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

The Kyarazen Subitism Incense Heater Outshines All Competitors

The Subitism Incense Burner is a marvel of ingenuity, design and construction. Fabricated to heat wood at the optimal temperature for releasing only the revered fragrance of the resins, (and NOT the acrid smell of burning wood fibers), the Subitism burner makes it possible to enjoy the subtleties of fragrant wood, granulated incense and kneaded incense without any of the drawbacks of other burners and techniques.

Wood burned on the Subitsm has a clean, pure scent. Although I enjoyed using my Indian electric burner enough to have replaced the first one after it died, I too often detected a faint smell of hot metal, even at lower temperatures, that compromised my enjoyment. Shoyeido’s Kodutu burner, sleek and elegant in design, unfortunately smells faintly of burning plastic. The Subitism Burner can burn wood uninterruptedly for long periods of time, whereas the Shoyeido Kodutu must be reset every 3 minutes. If not firmly held down while resetting, pushing on the lever can cause the wood to jump off the mica plate. The Subitism has a large, easily accessible heating element so it’s very easy use. The Shoyeido burner is much more finicky about placement of the wood directly above the small, coiled heating element.There have been many times when I passed the burner to a friend only to find that the piece of wood had slipped off the element during the transfer. The Subitism uses a 12v 2a power adapter (that comes with the unit) whereas the Shoyeido burner burns through batteries much more quickly than I would like. The batteries do make the Kodutu very easy to transport and it’s handy that it doesn’t require a wall plug. However the Subitism, in terms of the richness and enjoyment of the burning experience, functionality, ease of use, and possibly expense (I don’t know how to compare the cost of the electricity it uses to disposable or rechargeable batteries) wins hands down!

With the Subitism the amount of heat that the material being burned is exposed to can be varied depending on the number of mica sheets placed between the heating element and the material. If you want to scent the whole room a single .1 mm sheet is perfect. If you want to heat the incense very slowly, hoping to discern many of the wood’s hidden subtleties, add an extra sheet or two of mica and you will be amazed at the difference! It’s a pleasure that the ability to discern these fine nuances can be achieved without the expense or mess of ash and charcoal.

The Shoyeido burner has a handsome modern aesthetic and the Indian Burner has a certain rustic charm. For me, there is even greater pleasure in using a burner that has been carefully designed and meticulously crafted by an incense lover who created it to please himself. It is because Kyarazen enjoys sharing his love of incense that he has made The Kyarazen Subitism available on his Etsy shop. His shop is http://www.etsy.com/shop/Kyarazen.
The Subitism is currently sold out but I expect that more with become available in the next few months.

Fragrant wood lovers- check out this website

kyarazen.com

I’m sure you will enjoy it and learn a lot!

« Older entries