Daisen-In Incense:

While in Kyoto, we visited Daisen-In, the head temple of the temple complex Daitoku-ji.  I highly recommend a visit if you’re into zen gardens at all.  At the end of our visit, I bought some lovely incense made by Shoyeido labelled solely in kanji.

After buying it my husband and I were blessed by a cheerful monk who was there doing custom calligraphy for visitors: “Be Happy Always!”

The Daisen-In incense is very very similar to Shoyeido’s Nokiba, and someone has told me that he found someplace that said it was Nokiba.  (Thanks, Paul!)  I think they may be different, but I plan a couple of smell tests to see.  The color is very different, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  Both certainly have the same lovely cottony benzoin sweetness tempered with the earthy aspects of patchouli.

I will post close-ups of the box and materials in another post, in the hopes that someone may be able to read them!  (I know that the kanji at the bottom of the front says “Daisen-In”)  The script that Shoyeido likes to use on all their boxes throws me off.

Daisen-In

Kyukyodo at Keio Department Store:

It turns out that the Keio department store attached to Shinjuku Station (as I wrote about earlier) has a wonderful Kyukyodo counter if you’re not wanting to travel to the head store in the Ginza district of Tokyo.  (It’s not the only other department store counter Kyukyodo possesses in Tokyo.)  It’s located straight across from the elevators on the 6th floor, which is why we missed it on our first trip to Keio.  I visited the counter to make my follow-up purchases after having mulled over my choices in the Kyukyodo catalog I got in Kyoto.  I believe that the Keio counter boasted all of the incense available at the Kyoto head branch.  I didn’t see the less expensive incense stands in Kyoto, but I may have missed them.

I ended up just purchasing a bulk box of Ikaruga (1100 yen) and a rabbit incense stand/holder (850 yen) that I couldn’t find at the Kyoto branch.

Ikaruga Bunny

On my previous trip (on let’s say, Tuesday), there was also an extensive selection of Awaji-Baikundo incense for sale down the aisle.  A young man dressed in traditional clothing demonstrated the various choices to the few passers-by shopping on a Tuesday night.  Not knowing what was going on at first, I approached the tatami-covered platform he and an older woman were occupying, and suddenly realized that it was Awaji-Baikundo.  Bulk boxes from 850 yen to 1500 yen.  I hadn’t expected to find any there, and so I couldn’t remember which kinds were the ones I wanted to try.  He showed me a few sticks, but I needed to get home.  I vowed to myself to research and come back as soon as possible.

Wednesday and Thursday passed (our trip to Kyoto), as did Friday (a return trip to Akihabara and several bookstores).  So Saturday rolls around, and the Awaji-Baikundo stand was gone!!

It turns out that the section next to the Kyukyodo counter carries regional goods that rotate on a weekly basis.  In Awaji-Baikundo’s place was someone selling amber jewelry of some sort.  So that’s my story of the Awaji-Baikundo that got away.

Narita Airport:

I managed to squeak in one last incense purchase at the airport of all places—a box of Baieido’s Imagine series Hinoki.  They were selling it in the Fa-So-La across from a food court.  Eh, why not?

And so my incense adventures ended way too quickly.  I can say that I expected to have to open my backpack up for inspection, but I got through security just fine.

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