More than 500 years of Japanese perfection and tradition: Shoyeido incense

At the same time as the import of Buddhism, incense also spread from China to Japan in the 6th century. Burning and appreciating incense has been considered an art in Japanese culture for centuries. It is known by the name Kōdō (香 道), the way of the fragrance. The scents stimulate you to use all your senses, something the Japanese call Monkō (聞 香), or “listen to incense”.

Zen.nl winkel carries a range of products from one of the best and oldest Japanese incense producers, Shoyeido.

Over 1,400 years ago, a large piece of fragrant driftwood washed ashore on the tiny Japanese island of Awaji. Realizing the uniqueness of the marvelous fragrance emanating from the wood, island locals presented it as a gift to the Empress Suiko. With this gift of precious agarwood began a new era of refinement of — and appreciation for — the enjoyment of fragrance.

In the early 18th century, Rokubei Moritsune Hata began incorporating incense-making techniques he learned as an employee of Kyoto's Imperial Palace. He would eventually introduce a new world of scent to an audience beyond the realm of royalty.

Twelve generations later, the Hata family continue to create an amazing array of fragrances. Shoyeido incense is considered the highest quality, most natural incense available on Earth.

Shoyeido's blending process is an art form. Highly trained "masters" draw upon centuries-old secrets to create masterworks of fragrance. These artisans carefully process the quality, balance, and ratio of every hand-selected natural ingredient. The slightest variation in amount or quality of any component can dramatically influence the outcome. Only the finest raw materials are used. The results are remarkable, subtle scents that beckon us to use all of our senses —what the Japanese call mon-koh, or "listening to incense."

Shoyeido products are not just the preferred incense for most temples in Japan. Their unique blends are the modern natural solution for creating a relaxed atmosphere in the home. Whether as an accompaniment to work, to enliven social settings, to deepen yoga and meditation practices, or simply as bubble bath or spa accompaniment, Shoyeido’s pure incense is a timeless way to enhance atmosphere.

With respect for the environment and a concern for green practices, Shoyeido continues to set the standard in the market of fragrance. We have procured permits from the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry in Japan, and the US Fish & Wildlife Department to validate that Shoyeido products are properly accounted for and responsibly harvested. None of our recipes contain animal ingredients and no testing has ever been done on animals.

As consumers continue to reach for natural products to deepen their experience and appreciation for life, Shoyeido incense stands apart as the perfect, pure solution.

Connoisseurs swear by Japanese incense because of the soft subtle scents and the low smoke development. Unlike, for example, Indian incense, the Japanese variant does not use a bamboo stick base. The Japanese incense stick burns completely.

Where is Shoyeido incense made?

As it has been for over 300 years, Shoyeido incense is manufactured at our facility in Kyoto, Japan.

Does Shoyeido incense have a bamboo core?

No. Unlike many incense, our blending techniques do not require a bamboo core. With Shoyeido, the fragrance you enjoy is that of pure incense rather than the smoke of a superfluous wooden base. Shoyeido blends only the finest natural ingredients and binds them with Tabu-koh (machilus thunbergii) and water. This mixture is then extruded, much like spaghetti, and allowed to dry as a solid stick of pure incense.

You offer such a large selection of products. How do I know which ones I will like?

Shoyeido offers a wonderful and diverse variety of scents. To help you with your selection, we offer a number of incense samplers and assortment packages, which are an inexpensive and fun way to try different fragrances. You can also contact us at remko@zen.nl. We are happy to offer suggestions based on your personal preferences.

In the past, some kinds of incense have given me a headache. Will Shoyeido products have this effect on me?

Unlikely! Many of our customers have told us that they previously did not enjoy incense, or that it was too strong and may have caused them discomfort. The main reason for this is that many types of incense contain accelerants to help them burn more evenly. These kinds of incense often create a large amount of smoke and the fragrance is compromised. For those who are particularly sensitive to smoke, we recommend our Aesthetics Series incense.

How is Shoyeido incense made?

Shoyeido incense is blended in Kyoto, Japan by our highly trained artisans employing centuries-old recipes and techniques. Specific ingredients are finely ground and mixed with pure water and a natural binding material called "tabuko" (machilus thunbergii). Because we use only natural components, the quality and ratio of each raw ingredient is critical to the final outcome. Moisture, drying time, and production methods are all major aspects of our blending process. Lacking the bamboo core seen in so-called "dipped" incense products, our mixtures are extruded, carefully shaped and then slowly dried. Shoyeido's manufacturing process is renowned for its quality and high standards.

What makes some of your incense so expensive?

In a word, ingredients. At Shoyeido, we use only the finest herbs, spices, resins and aromatic woods from around the world. Many of our ingredients are kanpo-medicinal grade. Coupled with blending techniques that have been developed over three centuries, the result is a large collection of truly amazing fragrances.

Does your incense have an expiration date? Does it lose its fragrance over time?

Because Shoyeido products are comprised of natural ingredients, our fragrances actual improve and become mellower over time, much like a fine wine.

What is the difference between agarwood and kyara?

Agarwood is a resinous wood that can be found in aquilaria trees, an evergreen native to Southeast Asia. Kyara is the most resinous and highly prized type of agarwood.