December 14, 2019

Listening to Baieido Incense of Oda Nobunaga 織田 信長

Imagine a country torn by nearly 250 years of continual warfare and division. Now imagine the contrast of innovation and ruthlessness needed to bring unity that would restore peace. In this disparity you will find the first Great Unifier of Japan, Oda Nobunaga 織田 信長. Rising to power at the end of the Sengoku period's continual warfare, Oda Nobunaga achieved conquest over much of the main island of Honshu by the late 1580s. A mix of innovative Daimyo warlord and cultural innovator, Oda was equally adept at being the first to arm his soldiers with western matchlock muskets as he was in embracing the fundamental elements of the now famous tea ceremony. The contrast of styles of the Momoyama Period of art ushered in by Oda's conquest illustrate this polarity: opulent exapansive gold filled artwork and temples contrasted with the austerity and simplicity of the tea ceremony favoring the unadorned, rustic aesthetic of natural imperfection.

In Baieido's new Samurai series honoring the three "Great Unifiers" of Japan, the Incense of Oda Nobunaga stands as the first in the series. Baieido's superb new golden label aloeswood blends both contrast and complement one another, just as Oda's contrast of ruthlessness and innovation defined the first steps toward unification of Japan.

Oda Nobunaga's stick note is soft, semi-sweet, dry, with a slight perfume note to it. There is a powdery texture to the stick mixed with a tinge of coolness. The tangy semi-sweet nature reminds a bit of Bikou-Kobunboku's softness. This is a very restrained stick, with opulence taking a back seat to simple natural perfection.  

Once lit, Nobunaga makes it presence known with a blast of coolness almost immediately upon its start like a bracing winter wind. Spacious and light like a feather on a breeze, the fragrance is soft, expansive and open. This is one of those Baieido creations that you step within, the fragrance capable of enveloping you within it. The overriding note is cool and dry, almost menthol with a feel like ice in winter.

The main personality of Oda Nobunaga is subtle and distant, inspiring a sense of calm and harmony. Unlike many Baiedo reciepies that place the base wood front and center, the faint wood note playfully hides among the cool breeze just beyond awareness unless focused on. With time, a tart sweetness develops within this coolness. Oda Nobunaga is signature Baieido - like Kobunboku in it's dry tartness, but unlike it as if distant on a winter breeze.

The balance of Baieido's creation is quite wonderful - so much so the fragrance is capable of disappearing into the background given the consistency of the notes produced. This subtle nature would make Oda Nobunaga a great complement to meditation or mindfulness practice.

Oda Nobunaga's after note continues consistently even after the burn is complete. It's coolness remains along with the tart sweetness of the burn, superbly balanced in their interplay. Both slowly fade together like a memory over time leaving a cool fresh feeling of tranquility behind.

Cool, dry, slightly tart, with a wonderful expansiveness that is easy to lose one's self within, the Incense of Oda Nobunaga is another example in a long line of Baieido's mastery of their craft.

 

Winter wind strikes me
The chill of memories long dead
In the distance, the sweet smell of spring waking.


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