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

20161024_1348101
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.

Nippon Kodo / Kurobo Nerikoh

Today I decided to open up my container of Nippon Kodo‘s “Kurobo” Nerikoh and give it a review. Upon first impressions I am confronted with a sweet, woody and spicy mix of scents, straight from the package. It is slated as having aloes wood and sandalwood, while its name is a phrase meaning “Black Priest” in Japanese. I was initially confronted with a base note of a salty/bitter aloes wood scent, alongside cassia and clove and a sweet floral smell I was unable to identify. I also noticed a slight undertone of a soapy smell (barely noticeable, similar to bar soap). After the initial burn in on charcoal in a traditional koro, (and slight heat increase), the overtones faded to a more woody, bitter aloes wood, and the sweetness tapered off. In my personal opinion, I liked this blend a tad more than the previously reviewed Hatsune, And believe that it will appeal to almost anyone, especially those who love sweet woods.

-John

Nippon Kodo / Hatsune Nerikoh

Howdy!
Today I will be reviewing Nippon Kodo’s “Hatsune” Nerikoh. This kneaded blend tends to be a strong, syrupy sweet mix. I ordered a ceramic container of this, and was pleasantly surprised when I received it. It is slated as having aloeswood and sandalwood, while its name is a phrase meaning “the first bird warbles of spring” in japanese. Although slated as having aloeswood in the ingredients, I was initially confronted with overtones/base note of sweet apricot, with a background note of talcum powder and sandalwood. After the initial burn in on charcoal in a traditional koro, (and slight heat increase), the overtones faded to a more woody, sweet and bitter sandalwood, and the apricot faded into the background. Overall I believe this to be a very approachable nerikoh that will definitely appeal to those who love sweet incense.

-John

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.