About UsFrequently Asked Questions
10 Virtues of Koh
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. Our 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 our products are properly accounted for and responsibly harvested. None of our recipes contain animal ingredients and no testing has ever been done on animals.
Our products are proven sellers in many markets, including health food stores, gift shops, bookstores, boutiques, vitamin stores, apothecaries, spas, and salons. Shoyeido is the ideal product for stores looking for the best quality lifestyle items. 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.
Do you have sandalwood incense?Many of Shoyeido's recipes have a foundation of sandalwood along with a blend of other natural ingredients. We offer pure sandalwood wood chips, as well as a few incense sticks that are chiefly sandalwood: Nanto (item 71660) and Xiang Do Sandalwood (item 71176).
Where is your 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 our friendly and knowledgeable staff at 800-786-5476. 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.
I have heard that agarwood is particularly rare. How does Shoyeido guarantee that their agarwood items are environmentally accounted for and properly harvested?
Customers living outside the U.S.A, please note: as of October 24, 2012, we are no longer shipping incense items containing agarwood outside the United States.
There a several kinds of agarwood (sometimes referred to as aloeswood). Two varieties, agallocha malacennsis and agallocha aquileria, are considered the highest grade and are being closely monitored by an agency called the Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species ("CITES"). While they are not considered endangered, they are being watched closely.
Shoyeido is among few companies that are fully compliant with international regulations governing the export of agarwood. In Japan, we have permits with the Ministry of Economy, Trade, & Industry (METI), and we also have certification from the US Department of Agriculture and Fish & Wildlife Division to insure that the agarwood we export to the United States is properly harvested and accounted for. As of 10/24/2012, we are no longer shipping products containing agarwood outside the U.S.
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.
10 Virtues of Koh
These "virtues of incense" were compiled in the 16th century. They continue to capture the spirit of Koh (incense) appreciation.
Like tea ceremony and flower arrangement, Koh-do, or "incense ceremony," is an important tradition in Japan. Koh-do is always presented by licensed practitioners who have graduated from koh schools — either the Shino or Oie schools — that have have been preserving and conveying this tradition for over five centuries. Incense ceremony is traditionally carried out in the Koh room (as pictured), with a Master of Ceremonies and a small group of participants. Most incense ceremonies involve a game in which the participants attempt to guess the scent is being burned. There are hundreds of variations of these incense games.
While the formal Koh-do ceremony is steeped in protocol and tradition, the main idea is to have fun with fragrance and learn to "listen" to incense. Of course, one does not have to have an experienced, "trained nose" to enjoy and appreciate incense. Informal gatherings of people can meet to share different kinds of incense and create their own games.
A good source of additional information about the vivid history and culture of Japanese incense, including Koh-do incense ceremony, is The Book of Incense by Kiyoko Morita.
Shoyeido incense has been recommended in the following publications
Body & Soul magazine
American Spa magazine
Gentleman's Quarterly magazine
The pleasure of burning Japanese incense lies in "listening to the fragrance" — you close your eyes, breathe deeply, and concentrate on the luxurious tapestry of scents wafting by your nostrils so as to tease out the different ingredients. Shoyeido offers exquisite products ranging in price from $1.50 to $300 ..." — New Woman February 1995
The Rolls-Royce of Japanese incense companies is Shoyeido, a family firm in Kyoto that's been around for 12 generations." — Playboy magazine, December 2001
With names like Returning Spirit, City of Culture and Peaceful Sky, it's no wonder that Shoyeido Japanese Incense is attracting such fans as Ben Vereen and Jason Scott Lee. The coils, which come with a porcelain burner and cost between $17 and $88 for a box of 10, are available by calling 303-786-8000." — In Style magazine, October 1994
All incense is not created equal. The quality gap between standard incense and the superior aloeswood-based product is like the difference between Beaujolais Nouveau and first-growth Bordeaux. Fortunately, even the finest incense can be had for less than a bottle of Chateau Latour. Premium incense by Shoyeido, a 300-year-old Japanese company that uses traditional hand blending and choice ingredients, costs as little as $22.50 for 90 seven-inch sticks ... Like fine wine, good incense grows mellower and more interesting with age, but why wait if you don't have to? Life is too short to breathe cheap incense. Contact Shoyeido at (800) 786-5476." — New Age's Body & Soul magazine, 1999
The Shoyeido line of incense is a beautiful and extensive array, of both aromas and means of presentation: sticks for home use, coils for large public spaces, sachets in paper or brocade, premium joss sticks, floral cones, a monthly selection package, and specialty incense used according to tradition, promoting such attributes as calm, contemplation, affection and happiness." — Well Being Journal, September/October 1999
Few Boulder companies can claim as rich or as ancient a heritage as Shoyeido, which began making traditional Japanese incense long before Colorado was even a state ... Shoyeido incense is widely considered some of the best quality incense in the industry. The traditional incense is still made solely in Japan from natural ingredients like aromatic woods, herbs, roots, seeds, tree bark, resins and spices." — Boulder Planet, April 1997
A dear friend introduced me to your beautiful incense about four years ago. Ever since, I always make sure when I buy incense it is your company’s name on the box. But I can usually tell by the aroma before I read the name that it’s yours. Your incense has helped me with my Zen practice or just to set an atmosphere to relax with. I just bought some of your Jewel Series, Ruby and also Amethyst. They are truly fine." — MM, Ohio
Shoyeido incense is the best I have ever used. Its fragrance does not burn up the atmosphere, but moves with silent spirit to clean and change, as you say, 'With subtlety & refinement.' I’m so glad I found Shoyeido." — MP, North Carolina
I use the Japanese incense from Shoyeido in my acupuncture office because it is very light, pleasant, and refreshing. Also, even though I have a number of very sensitive patients, no one has had any negative response to the incense. The majority of my patients like to comment on how good our offices smell and feel." — Dr. DS, Colorado
I just want to drop you a note on your Shoyeido incense coils. The fragrance is definitely outstanding with all of your products; however, the coils are my favorite. I use them to scent my house and the aroma is very pleasant. The comments I have received have been very favorable and I know that your business will grow because of the quality of your products." — JD, California
Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy Shoyeido incense. It is one of the first things I do when I get home from work. I usually burn your incense through to evening. An interesting thing happened last summer. The day after I burned Eternal Treasure I got the largest and best landscaping job of the year." — TG, Colorado
In our testing of the many different brands on the market, Shoyeido’s products are far superior in quality and value. When combined with various meditation practices, they help open the individual to much deeper states of awareness. As we have used these for our own practices, we know this to be true." — KR, Virginia
I’ve recently received your Ruby incense as a birthday gift. I must say it has the best fragrance of any incense that I’ve smelled before." — LS, Michigan
Haku-un is my personal favorite. Having passed on that wonderful scent to our abbot, its offering at the alter soon filled the Zendo with an exquisite cloud. It is no wonder that 90% of Zen Temples use your products." — RB, California
Some time ago I visited our local health food store in Waynesville, North Carolina. As I walked in, there on a shelf in front of me was a lovely display of cone incense. I stopped, smelled the different boxes, and bought one called: Jasmine. In my sixty-eight years of using many brands of incense, always searching for “the perfect one,” I had never experienced such quality as this. It might seem strange to say this, but this incense has soul." — MP, North Carolina
I love your incense and have been using it for a very long time ... your product is amazing and is always burning in our home!" — SD, British Columbia
I have been using the three Zen fragrances (Morning Zen, Sitting Zen, Evening Zen) for more than five years and I can honestly say that these three fragrances are far superior to every other fragrance known to man. The simplicity and richness of the three Zen fragrances is perfectly at home on my altar and always elicits rapturous praise from visitors (and even from the man who delivers take-away Thai food to my home from time to time). In fact, it was the delivery man, who is from Thailand, who gives the greatest praise; always taking time to note the fragrance when I open my door. However, he was a bit sad to learn that the Zen fragrances weren't from Thailand, though he exuberantly desired to acquire the Zen incense regardless of their origin. I will no doubt find these familiar scents welcoming me the next time I visit his restaurant." — ES, District of Columbia
I just wanted to tell you how much my family enjoys your incense. We have found other incense products to be far too strong, but Shoyeido's incense is so light and delicate. It smells wonderful. Also, your customer service is exceptional. I am always sent an email telling me exactly when my order has shipped and it always arrives so quickly! We will be a Shoyeido customer for life!" — GN
Just a note to thank you for making wonderful incense! I am a composer and practitioner of the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute). Before my daily practice each morning, I light a stick of "Moss Garden" or "Kyoto Cherry Blossoms". It creates the perfect atmosphere for my playing and puts me in the proper mind set. One of peace and tranquility. I have used countless brands of incense over the years and have found Shoyeido to have the purest, freshest and most unique scents. When the stick is completely burned, my practice session is over. Your incense has truly become a part of my life!" — KS
My husband and I purchased a box of coil incense and a burner in Japan, at Kaneyama Inn, which has (among other things) an inspiring view of Mt. Fuji. It wasn't until we returned home that we fell in love with the Horin Hori-kawa ("River Path") coils. My husband says that the scent makes him feel at home because "it smells like Japan." We were very happy to find that Shoyeido has an American website, and will continue to enjoy our "River Path" for as long as we can. Arigato gozaimashita! Thank you very much!" — C & KA , Michigan
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