February 02, 2019

Listening to Baieido Tokusen Ho Ryu 鳳龍

Often reserved for the Imperial Court, the symbol of the phoenix and dragon represented the supreme sovereignty of a tranquil court filled with balance and prosperity. Portrayed together, Phoenix (Ho鳳) and Dragon (Ryu龍) symbolize the highest expression of yin and yang in complete harmony - the phoenix symbolizing gracious and virtuous female yin energy of the empress, and the dragon generous and benevolent male yang energy of the emperor. In creating Tokusen (premium) Ho Ryu, Baieido has confidently demonstrated their ability to combine remarkable ingredients into a wonderfully balanced experience evocative of a harmonious emperor and empress the phoenix and dragon represented.

Baieido's Tokusen (Premium) Ho Ryu is described simply as "...a calm incense with premium Thai aloeswood, sandalwood, and traditional spices suitable for meditation or daily use." The most noticeable quality of this incense lies in its ability to produce a subtle balance, confidently encouraging a state of bliss and peacefulness.

Ho Ryu unlit is a pleasure. The stick is obviously a Baieido creation, ever so slightly camphor cool with a hint of spicy semi-sweet overtones. The dominant note is a light and alluring Thai Aloeswood - rich, earthy, and faintly salty. An understated presentation of spices, although present, takes on a supporting role, enhancing the outstanding woody base. Listening to Ho Ryu unlit is thoroughly enjoyable in its own right and an integral part of Ho Ryu's overall experience. Take your time lighting this stick and savor the complete experience.

Once lit, Ho Ryu mystifies. Soft and subtle, at the start of the burn the fragrance is gracefully restrained. As the stick warms and the burn deepens, there is a slightly salty note of rich, earthy, aloeswood reminiscent of autumn. The coolness and semi-sweet tones of the unlit stick are replaced with a more focused warm note. The strength and generosity of an emperor is present here in the light earthy Thai aloeswood, balanced perfectly by an empress' moderation of softness and grace. Ho Ryu is a woody fragrance full of warmth and restraint, all other notes taking a backstage role in support. This is a confident fragrance, secure in its quiet peace, making the experience almost illusive, easily overlooked in its subtlety. Ho Ryu does not need you to listen to it, but is there if you wish to hear, imparting a tranquility that is calming and centering. This would be an outstanding choice for meditation or a small space, as its ability to retain its restrained balance is wonderful.

The after-note sees a reversal, with the warmth of the burn replaced with the signature Baieido coolness of camphor exquisitely balanced with the saltiness of the earthy Thai aloeswood. Where the burning stick was like fleeting warmth in autumn, the after-note is cool and illusive, like a familiar breeze through winter trees, a slight sweetness here and there. Ho Ryu's fragrance vanishes from grasp quickly, yet remains in the space, the light earthy fragrance of aloeswood lingering gently when listened for.

Gracious and confident, Ho Ryu's embodiment of elusiveness creates a calming and harmonious balance for the senses. What a wonderful experience!

Highs and lows,
a journey perceived as struggle,
in balance, tranquility finds me.