Japanese incense (Koh) is one of those rare, as close as it gets to a time machine, sorts of gifts with one favorite, Baieido for instance, dating back to the Muromachi period (17th century). Beautifully packaged and literally lasting for ages, subtle yet growing better and better, these have been a go-to gift, especially for the candle and fume obsessed. Another takeaway from Sunkaraku, they don't even have to be burned to be enjoyed as Koh was used to perfume clothing, ground up and popped in sachets or sprinkled about to scent rooms and love letter paper. It makes an incredibly poetic party game too.
Three really, really beautiful versions here are by Baiedio, Shoyeido and Nippon Kodo Daigen-koh:
Shoyeido Autumn Leaves, (short sticks) this will probably be the be-all-end-all Koh scent personally. It is absolutely gorgeous, even more so when burned. It's name perfectly personifies it's scent, Autumn and crunchy falling leaves. The mood, the dryness, the everything. It's main notes are cinnamon and sandalwood although it's more of a nondescript scent in terms of how it's blended. Really beautiful.
Daigen-koh Rosewood. Definitely one of the more mysterious ones... even though it's called rosewood and is a sandalwood based spicy floral I've always thought of this as a little plumy and fruity. The sticks are even a very dark aubergine color. These have always felt the most decadent and special.
Baiedio Tokusen Kobunboku, (short sticks) is subtly more what many might consider feminine, warm and gentile. Very comforting, especially on cold nights with notes of sandalwood, Indonesian aloeswood, and a blend of Chinese herbs although there also seems a hint floral. If only my Memoirs of a Geisha perfume by fresh smelled more like this, it would have been downright dreamy.
A cold night - sitting alone in my empty room
Filled only with incense smoke.
Outside, a bamboo grove of a hundred trees;
On the bed several volumes of poetry.
The moon shines from the top of the window,
And the entire neighbourhood is still except for the
Looking at this scene, limitless emotion,
But not one word.
Image: mam for Gave That