Ok, after posting a negative review on Fred Soll incense and being taken to task by Pluran, I decided to give the more popular scents in Soll's line up a try.
As ususal his website was hard to navigate, or I would have by passed popularity and gone hog wild sampling, by ordering one of each. No luck. Nor did I have better luck getting my calls returned at their 'Mom and Pop' outfit.
Oh well, went to:
Good service but no such animal as one stick for each flavor of scent. Bought Frankincese and Myrrh and Magical Copal.
This time around, they don't suck
Yes, I liked them--not for every day but, yes.
Copal was my favorite. Be forewarned that these give off A LOT of smoke, in case you're not familiar with Soll's unique, gooey, resinous, burnt offerings.
Volupsa was something else! Got just one packet of red amber at
Again, excellent service.
Well, this stuff puts Soll's to shame as far as pungency.
Yikes! Talk about strong.
If you tend to think of amber as 'soft' you're in for a shock. This concoction is what I'd expect from some berserk gothic Russian countess who likes to play with exotic herbs and gunpowder.
Not bad by any means, but guaranteed to freak out the peasants in nearby forests, and set the wolves howling at the moon. I half expected Vlad the Impaler to show up.
48 hours later, the room in which ONE stick was lit (mercifully, not the bedroom--would have had an easier time sleeping if the walls had just been painted) had a most pleasant residual smell . . .
Shoyeido: 'Transluscent Path'
What a bargain! $59.95 plus shipping for 8 sticks.
Yep. This is KYARA, the rarest grade of Aloeswood. The traditional top gun---or top katana---of Japanese incense.
" This recipe required more than ten years to perfect. The ultimate in refinement and quality - simply the best."
And so it is, if you like the bitter/aristocratic smell of Aloeswood/ Agarwood.
(Not easy to draw a comparison in the realm of frags. Vintage Tabarome? Blenheim Bouquet?)
Suggest you do a web search for Kyara. Or get a sample package
Or if you're rich and nutty enough to buy sight unsmelt, go for the gusto and get a box of 135 sticks at a mere $1,399 at
If you think no one's that nutty, you're wrong. They're currently out of stock, as the back orders have piled up.
Shoyeido's American HQ is based out of Colorado. Nice folks, sent me a samples of their Horin (aromatic woods) series, gratis. Interesting, the Japanese take on woods as contrasted with the Southwestern US.
Which brings me to another small outfit ( I can't bring myself to say niche ) with cool products in syrups, soaps, teas---and incense.
So. how come other companies don't list their cheapo chemicals, and pollutants, huh?
These guys are purists to the max:
" The incense aisles of most organic food stores and fancy hippy boutiques are full of disgustingly sweet-smelling incenses with names like “Egyptian Musk”and “Personal Awakening.” . . .Cheap, perfume oil-based incense . . . have made strange scents like tangerine and bubble gum possible . . .a mockery. . ."
Ah! but their stuff is:
" Made with real leaves, wood and resins from the mountains and deserts of The West. "
Tried them all except the White Sage and Port Orford Cedar--
Recommendation: Get the Sweetgrass. Skip the others I tried.
I would not go as far as to say the others smelled too much alike, but, in the opinion of the lady who picked up the phone--the Sweetgrass and the White Sage are the standouts.
Next time, I'll try the White Sage.
Last edited by pluran; 19th December 2007 at 09:21 AM.
Wonderful review, fellow incense lover! I have been collecting (yes, it's true) Shoyeido incense for many years and I cannot stress enough how good their stuff is. I have some boxes that are more than 10 years old and the incense has actually improved with time, like wine (some wines). So, yes, the kyara is the real deal but it's really good stuff, and expensive. Their premium sampler pack is a good deal. I never burn more than an inch of the very expensive incense at a time because it's just too rich, a little goes a long way. I have heard similar things for Baiedo and must try them soon....
As I have posted before, my favourite incense line is Baieido....
The problem that I have with Shoyeido is that a lot of the products available in the west are created expecially for the western market and a lot of them are not the same ones that are available in Japan.
Point well taken. Japanese firms sometimes don't understand how much many Westerners appreciate traditional Japanese artisanry. I have found that at Mitsokoshi, the Japanese dept. store, the Nippon Kodo scents are different than those sold at Whole Foods, for example. Nippon Kodo has very divergent lines of incense for easterners and westerners, and they also have "western style" incense marketed for Asians! Anyone confused, yet??
Got to agree about Nippon Kodo. I have a copy of the Japanese Nippon Kodo catalogue and the range that is available in Japan is so much better than the Western range.Originally Posted by Elf
Yoiur Highness, what do you think of:Originally Posted by Prince Barry
Is it your favorite sandalwood?
Same question to all the forum members, btw.
What's your favorite sandalwood?
Mario, that particular sandalwood incense is one of Nakata-san's finest achievements.Originally Posted by Mario Justiniani
As for kyara based incense sticks, I love both Hakusui and Ogarayama. They are both very hard to find these days. I got some when David first got his shipment from Japan and now he seems to only have those 2 in the granular forms.
Here is a special forum that you might find interesting..........
I have been a member there for years, but I don't think that I have posted for at least 2 years. I just enjoy the read.
Received my Baieido incense today and I love it. I have their Imperial Palace and Secret Recipe. Imperial Palace is particularly lovely with its aloeswood note. I can't say I like them any better than Shoyeido, my favorite for 20 years, but I'm glad to have finally sampled the incense from this famous house!
Thank You. I'll have to check out the Japanese Incense posts on Alice's Restaurant. So far the only link is one to Baiedo. I've never heard of Hakusui and Ogarayama's kyara sticks and alas, it sounds like I never will if it's getting that rare. Well, I never made it it to the Justiniani museum in Chios, or the fief at Bassano Romano, but perhaps Confucious would be appeased if I would honor my teachers, if not my ancestors and at least pay my respects to the Zen Temples in Kyoto. The one Japanese city I've always wanted to visit . . .
That is so cool! I'm glad you liked them. I take it Kokonoe is " Imperial Palace. " Right? Almost got it. Is it " summery "?
I know it's Indonesian--or Japanese take on Indonesian. Made to commemorate 500 years and, I think (?) to honor the present Empress--What's it like? I can imagine everything from light garden floral smell to thick sandalwood drenched stone walls in an Indonesian temple. Can you give me a hint?
Baiedo says 'secret recipe' (Kaden Kobunkoku) is a favorite among their customers. It's a higher grade aloeswood with sandalwood, isn't it? And I probably will get that again next time instead of the high grade aloeswood in their Jinkoya commemerative series. Still, after all is said and done, it isn't Kyara.
Now Shoyeido has their 'Transluscent Path" at $59 for 8 (!) sticks. I loved them, even if my on and off ex-GF thought the room 'smelled funny.'
Whatever. Apparently according to http://www.scents-of-earth.com/kyara2.html Baiedo also carried a Kyara sampler once upon a time but it's been discontinued--at least at this site, or any other I've searched for.
Oh well, Baieido sells the Kyara Kokoh package at a mere $500 (gulp!) for 20 sticks. Shoyeido's is a bargain at $499 for 35
Mario the Impoverished.
Mario, I just did a search and have found a shop that has both the Hakusui and Ogurayama incense sticks in stock.
I've burned a few sticks of Imperial Palace so I can comment a bit now. It smells mostly like temple incense, though less sweet than the typical kind burned outside the temples. It's much more sandalwood-dominant though there is aloeswood in there, too, it's just a secondary note. I also smell camphor and possibly pine, so it's quite "outdoorsy", a little like Shoyeido's Friend of Pine.
If you want to try a very strong, rich, spicy, aloeswood-dominated incense, I think Shoyeido's En-mei (Circle), or Sei-Fu (Fresh Breeze) would be good choices. They are so rich, a few inches is enough to scent several large rooms. The cost is comparable and Shoyeido US is located Boulder, Colorado, I think.To be honest, when I think "palace" these come first to mind, though Imperial Palace is very good.
I'm new here and have been looking for a place to discuss incense. I recently purchased more than $100 of incense online, and I HATE it. I have been looking for a fragrance that is unknown to me. It was burned by an acquaintance whose house I visited a few times, and there was always an amazing fragrance that was burning, or lingered even if it hadn't been burned for a while. This person claimed to be somewhat of a buddhist but not really a practicing one, so I'm not sure if this was related to the type of incense. I have lost contact them, and now cannot ask them what it was. It had a scent that is undescribable...NOT florally or perfumy at all. Very earthy, sensual, warm, and exotic. It did not smell like anything I've ever smelled before. Everything I ordered smells prefumy or reminds me of a hippy den.
Can you help me find what I'm looking for? I burned some Shoyeido last night and hated it. You all seem to like this brand, but it's not for me. I burned the Jewel series Diamond, and Angelic series Peace. Much too perfumy. Not only do I dislike the scent, the sticks are too tiny and subtle, and it does not leave any scent in the room that lasts very long after it has burned (which is a good thing considering that I hated it, but I would prefer something I like which also lingers longer after it has burned, and is more permeating). I also tried Hem Night Queen..too flowery and sweet...ugh! I had to put it out and air out the room. All of these remind me of the smell of cheap incense from the 70s. I was given a white sage smudge bundle a while back and loved it. I don't want to continue to buy incense that I hate and be stuck with something I cannot use. I know about the Fred Soll (a bit too expensive for me) and Juniper Ridge and will be trying them, but those are not the incenses that my aquaintance was burning, and I wll forever be in search of that one. Can you help me find it?
Well, putting together the clues, you were trying Shoyeido's western line, not its Japanese scents. I like Diamond but it is very sweet, and so is Peace. You probably would have liked Sapphire or Emerald better. I believe Diamond and Peace have either frankincense or myrrh, so avoid these notes! They are from western churches, and eastern Orthodox. Anyway, did you get a shoyeido sampler of its classic daily incense (the Japanese varieties) or its premium sampler? Its Horin sampler is also Japanese. Or you might like the Daily Zen (sampler around $1.50)- it is definitely not sweet, and is very strong!
For Nippon Kodo, Earth and Silk Road Dream might work out. You could also try granulated incense, for example Scents of the Earth has good stuff.
But in general, it's best to go to a New Age store or bookstore or Buddhist supply or Indian market and try, try, try, and ask around, too. There really is something for everyone. Good luck!
Thank you so much for your reply Elf. You are right about Peace and Diamond. I will avoid those ingredients from now on when buying, but unfortunately I have already purchased other incense that contain the frankincense and/or myrrh, because I wanted to experience the ancient holy scents. So much for that brilliant idea. I have yet to try some of the others that contain them, so I will let you know. I have also purchased some resins, and will be trying those soon. Yes, Scents of Earth is a great site.
I did not get samplers (a fool again), but did get some other Shoyeidos, which I burned this everning, such as Love, which I almost enjoyed, and Amethyst, which was not quite as bad as the first two. Still, neither is exactly what I'm looking for. If I try any more Shoyeido or other Japaenese incense, I will follow your advice. I was actually looking at the ones you suggested, and those formulas look much more to my liking.
I tried an aloeswood tonight too...still not what I'm looking for, but not really disagreeable either. I would describe it as a somewhat masculine, slightly pungent yet mellow scent, but still a bit too perfumy for me. Almost reminding me of some subtle male colognes I've smelled.
I suspect that the scent I'm looking for is not Japanese. Possibly from India? Could it be a Nag Champa? I wouldn't describe is as unsweet, but the slight sweetness is not dominate or perfumy at all. Does that make sense? It is very rich, but not really florally, and has many other notes. I could always still smell it for hours after leaving the house where it was burning.
Definitely visit an Indian grocery store and ask the man or woman behind the counter for help finding a good incense. I'll bet they'll have something you'll like, and most are very knowledgeable about various types, if they are Hindu. I've also heard good things about Korean traditional incense but have never tried it, though will do one of these days.
Thanks for your help again Elf. Okay, it is definitely not nag champa. I tried 2 of those this morning, although not the traditional formula, but close, and they both have a very similar smell...a scent that have have smelled for 30 years in import stores and dislike. Obviously it would not have been that one, because it's popular and commonly burned, but the one I'm looking for is one I had never smelled before in my life. I have actually visited stores, but their selection is not that large. None of them seem to have the scent I'm looking for. I live in a remote area, so I would have to travel a considerable distance to find a store that has a generous enough selection, and with gas prices, it's almost cheaper to order samples.
I have narrowed it down to this. It did not smell eastern to me at all, but that doesn't mean it isn't. It did not really smell southwestern either. Normal, medium smoke level. It was on a stick. Not sweet, but not sharp or bitterly pungent. Very warm and erotic. Not sure, but possibly undertones of slight spiciness, but not oriental spice. Not flowery. Not an artificial smell. Probably not very expensive, since the person who was burning it could not afford that. I hope you guys will keep trying to help me figure this out. And I will find another store as soon as possible. Meanwhile any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks!
Last edited by mysty; 26th February 2007 at 01:12 AM.
Thanks Elf! Are there any sites out there that any of you have had negative experiences with? I have bookmarked so many now, and I'm not sure if all of them are trustworthy to order from.
I'm still looking for a source that gives good descriptions and lists ingredients of the various incenses...impossible to find. I've found a few that give it on some of the incenses, but not all. Some sites give absolutely no information about any the incenses they sell at all, which I find rather annoying.
I have now become attached Shoyeido's "Love". I've decided that I really like it. It's slightly similar to the scent I'm looking for. Does that give any clues?
Well, after much experimentation, I decided to stop whining and be more open minded. I think my disappointment was more due to the fact that they were not the "one" that I was looking for, but that doesn't make them as bad as I had originally thought. Sometimes these things can become an acquired taste. I've put to rest my search and have decided to instead try to enjoy the ones I now have...enjoy them for what they are, not for what I wanted them to be. I have even decided that I like Nag Champa and the others better than I thought, each of them an entirely different mood. So, I've put out of my mind the hippy den connections.
Elf, I have now ordered Earth, at your suggestion, and will let you know what I think. Regardless of which scents are favored, Shoyeido's incenses seem to be of very high quality.
I'm still looking for good descriptions of scents that I haven't tried, though at this point I can give many descriptions myself. A description thread might be useful.
Last edited by mysty; 3rd March 2007 at 06:12 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
OOPS --Should have checked this thread more often.
My belated thanks to Prince Barry and Elf !
Prince Barry, I didn't know that Hakusui and Ogurayama were Baiedo products. You are right, they're next to impossible to find, though the site you listed does still carry Hakusui. Ogaruyama, however is nowhere to be found--just completed a bunch of web searches, too..
Elf: Thanks for your description, it wasn't at all what I expected! --I am definitely going to give this a try, along with Shoyeido's Circle and Fresh Breeze.
Meanwhile--don't know what possesed me, I ordered the el cheapo Morning Star from Nippon Kodo. In vanilla, no less.
Hi Mario, The eBay seller Pricklypath carries Ogurayama and some other Baiedo products. Just do a search for pricklypath.
Sensia are out of stock of the Hakusui not the Ogarayama. Of the 2, I much prefer the Ogaruyama anyway. I would get your order in to them quick before they sell out of that. I notice that on David Oller's website they no longer list either in the stick form. David is the US distributor.
To be honest, all the Nippon Kodo sticks that I have tried have turned out to be a disapointment.
Good luck with finding Hakusui.
I'm a huge fan of Shoyeido. I have most of their less expensive incense, but I'm looking at getting some aloeswood at some point as well. For me, it's the best incense I've ever tried. All natural and hardly any smoke.
Shoyeido is the tops insofar as east Asian incenses go (well, at least among those readily available in this country). There's a gift shop down at the Botanical Gardens here in OKC that sells Shoyeido, and I've been buying it there for years now.
Peggy: "Right now, we have to get to the mental institution. Something terrible has happened."
Peggy: "Brother Boy has tried to kill himself. He jumped out of his bedroom window."
Latrelle: "Isn't he only on the second floor?"
Peggy: "Yes, but he hit his head on a lawn gnome."
Fr. Sordid Lives: The Series
"Live, live, live! Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death."