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After a short break from perfumes, I’m back to my original olfactory obsession.   After the Japan trip, I started dipping into my shoeboxes of samples again.  This time, I’m on a quest for something that reminds me of Japanese incense, so my Top 4 reflects that.  No particular order.

  1. Comme des Garçons   Series 3: Incense Kyoto – The Comme des Garçons Incense series is supposed to reflect the incense traditions of five major “religious capitals” around the world.   That said, as in most perfumes, there’s quite a bit of poetic license at play.  Kyoto does not, as you might expect in a traditional Japanese incense, display the usual blend of sandalwood/aloeswood, cassia, camphor, etc.  Instead, the notes are incense (probably meaning frankincense), cypress oil, coffee, teak wood, vetiver, patchouli, amber, everlasting flower, Virginian cedar.  The overall effect is one of slightly smoky hinoki and earthy cedar incense at first, drying down to a somewhat musky smoked cedar smell that reminds me of a dry sauna.  (Note: It does not smell like Baieido’s Imagine Hinoki, Nippon Kodo’s Ka-Fuh Hinoki, or Mermade Magickal Arts Sacred Grove).  Note: This is the fragrance series that I mentioned in an earlier postMore reviews of Kyoto.
  2. Comme des Garçons Series 3: Incense Avignon – From the same series.  My appreciation for this went up 100% after having smelled Mermade Magickal Arts’ Golden Bough.  (Side note: I highly recommend smelling good examples of individual raw materials in order to pick out notes in perfumes–whether they be burnable or sprayable perfumes.)  I swear that the top notes smell just like Golden Bough.  Avignon then dries down to a very similar base to the Kyoto, somewhat muted earth and smoke but close to the skin. (Not surprising, since both are creations by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.)  Notes: Roman chamomile, cistus oil, elemi, incense, vanilla, patchouli, palisander, ambrette seeds.  More reviews of Avignon.
  3. Shiseido/Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois – Blends cedar with plum and violet notes to create a more wood-dominant that goes beyond the usual masculine accords involving wood, without falling back on the usual “add a bunch of vanilla or candy” that’s used nowadays to make woods “more feminine.”  I don’t detect any vanilla at all, just a silky, slightly powdery, slightly fruity cedar.  The fruitiness recedes on me as time passes, but the cedar stays prominent throughout its progression.
    I mainly mention the masculine/feminine dichotomy because it’s in the name–I’m all for finding perfumes based on how they suit me, rather than on who the target audience is supposed to be.  Notes: Ginger, cinnamon, clove, plum, peach, orange blossom, violet, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, benzoin.   More reviews of Féminité du Bois.
  4. Diptyque Tam Dao – A sandalwood-dominant fragrance.  I wasn’t terribly impressed by this, and only wore it once.  At the outset, it smells like decent Australian sandalwood oil.  As it progresses, however, I find the drydown rather on the cloying side, or perhaps a little too close to the Sandalwood body spray I’m able to buy for a song locally.  Notes: Goa sandalwood, rosewood, cypress, ambergris.   More reviews of Tam Dao.

Overview:  I think you can detect my fandom for Japanese perfume houses coming out in this list.

I’ve got more samples coming in the mail, so next month should be interesting.

All lists of notes are taken from LuckyScent.



I haven’t done a Top Ten list since April, so I figure it’s about time for one.
This month I’ve been inundated with incense, so it’s now difficult to pick just ten. Hooray for that! ^_^
Naturally, it’s dominated by incenses I picked up in Japan.

  1. Kunjudo Karin Zuitou (Encens du Monde Golden Waves) – musky and sweet aloeswood goodness.
  2. Kyukyodo Higashiyama – Aloeswood, sandalwood, and Chinese herbs – a lighter aloeswood, thanks to the additional of sandalwood, with a slight vegetal tang. It alternates between a mossy kind of greenness and a musky freshness.
  3. Shoyeido unnamed incense (or name in kanji) from Daisen-in temple in Kyoto – Shoyeido really knows how to do benzoin-laced incenses really well, and this is another awesome example of their craft. I plan on exploring other Shoyeidos to discover if I can get this in the States. Hopefully it’s not one of the discontinued Classics.
  4. Mermade Magickal Arts Golden Bough – aptly named. It’s like a ray of sunshine through the trees of a pine grove. Resiny awesomeness.
  5. Mermade Magickal Arts Sacred Grove – similar to Golden Bough (I think it’s the resiny elements) but with an emphasis on the piney scent–needles and wood. Come Wintertime, I need to do some scent research at a Christmas tree lot–the last time we had a tree in the house for the holidays was when I was four, and I don’t remember what the whole experience of the tree is like.
  6. BAM Champa – My preferred nag champa, thanks to the awesome presence of sweet, resiny halmaddi. I also prefer the stick size, which is skinnier than the Mother’s Fragrance nag champas. While they’re awesome and neck-to-neck with the BAM, they’re too smoky for my small house.
  7. Kyukyodo Shiun – light aloeswood, great for meditative summer moments
  8. Kunjudo Karin/Encens du Monde Forest of Flowers – the eponymous incense of the five-fold Karin line by Kunjudo. (Different from the Encens du Monde Karin line) I think you could call this the theme, and the others the variations. Somewhat lighter because of an emphasis on more sandalwood, I think. (I have a “small box”)
  9. Kyukyodo Ikaruga – this is so inexpensive, but so good. I prefer this to Shirohato, finding the latter’s floral component too delicate. I lit one Monday while I was cleaning house as an act of home purification, and was pleasantly reminded of how cheering I find the fragrance. I believe the bundles in the 10-bundle box are meant to be burned en masse as an outdoor temple or gravesite offering.
  10. Shroff Sandal Flora – I haven’t burned many of the new Shroffs yet, but this older one remains one of my favorites. A light rosy-woody scent that lingers a while, but not for days. I prefer that so I can burn other scents in the house. A good balance of rose and wood is a hard one to come by in personal fragrances, and sometimes I wish I could wear this one.

This list is my first, from my very first month of incense appreciation.  As such, I actually don’t have much incense to choose from at this point.

  1. Kunmeido Reiryo Koh
  2. Nippon Kodo Mainichi-Koh Viva Sandalwood
  3. Baieido Koh / Sawayaka Kobunboku
  4. Kyukyodo Ikaruga
  5. Kyukyodo Yumemachi
  6. Kyukyodo Shiun
  7. Baieido Kobunboku
  8. Tennendo Frankincense
  9. Nippon Kodo Ka-fuh Hinoki
  10. Baieido Tokusen Kobunboku

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