Kodo: The way of Fragrance.

The practise of burning fragrant wood during Buddhist rituals is believed to have begun during the Nara period (710-794 AD). Like the use of incense in Christian Churches it was thought to purify the space. As naturally occurring fragrant wood is rare and can take many years to acquire its fragrance, man-made incense was developed. With it came a practise and appreciation that has become one of the three gaido or refined arts of Japan, the other two being the well-known chado, or tea ceremony and kado, or ikebana flower arranging.

Traditionally, when practising Kodo, the incense or fragrant wood is not directly burned, but is placed upon a mica plate which sits on top of charcoal and raked ash in an incense burner, allowing the incense to be heated to release its fragrance in a very subtle way.

Kodo is classified into a system called rikkoku gomi (meaning six countries, five tastes). The rikkoku are the six kinds of fragrant wood and refer to the six ancient Asian countries that these woods originate from. They are kyara, rakoku, manaka, manaban, sumatora and sasora. The five gomi are amai (sweet), nigai (bitter), karai (spicy hot), suppai (sour) and shio karai (salty). Each wood can have a mix of tastes, and the incense is not so much smelled as listened to with the heart and spirit. Being able to distinguish between the different elements takes years of experience. Guessing each element is part of the game begun by aristocrats during the Momoyama period. 

Kodo is said to have ten physical and psychological benefits or virtues:

  1. Sharpens the senses
  2. Purifies the mind and body
  3. Removes mental or spiritual “pollutants” (kegare)
  4. Promotes alertness
  5. Heals feelings of loneliness
  6. Creates a feeling of harmony even under stress
  7. Even in abundance, is not overwhelming
  8. Satisfies, even in small quantities
  9. Does not decay even over centuries
  10. Does no harm even if used every day 1

Zentsuji Temple Incense

A blend from Zentsuji temple, one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Japan and the birthplace of Kobo Daishi (774-835 AD) the founder of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. The temple plays an important role in the 88-temple pilgrimage of Shikoku, retracing Kobo Daishi’s own spiritual path. The box contains approximately 150
sandalwood incense sticks. 

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Zentsuji Special Incense

Special blend from the Zentsuji Temple. Contains approximately 150 incense sticks in a sandalwood blend.

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Kojurin Incense

These high-quality incense sticks, from one of the most popular incense makers in Japan, mix Sandalwood with spices and oils. A touch of sweetness that is delicately balanced making it a refreshing change to
sandalwood alone. They have a pure fragrance, without producing a lot of smoke. There are about 150 sticks per box. 

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Karin Incense

A delicate mix of sandalwood, aloeswood and cinnamon it has a warm earthy fragrance, with a sweet and spicy air. Each box contains 200 incense sticks.

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Special Karin Incense

Like the regular Karin incense this is a sandalwood blend with added spices and a floral note.

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Takara Pearl Incense

A fragrance for adding a personal touch to your home. The blend is a
mix of jasmine and peach natural essential oils on a bamboo charcoal
base, making it virtually smokeless. Each box has around 200 or more
incense sticks. 

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