July 01, 2020

Listening to Baieido Tokusen Kobunboku 特撰好文木

Often when products are advertised as premium, the emphasis is put on being something more. The premium product is often touted as more noticeable, more intense, more volume. More is better, right? As the old saying goes -  if you have to say you are, you aren't. That's the beauty behind Baieido's Tokusen Kobunboku. It doesn't say it. Instead, in building upon the Kobunboku recipe, it confidently creates a exceptional fragrance through the poised subtlety of less equaling more.

Baieido describes its Tokusen (meaning "select") version of Kobunboku as having "...fifteen different kinds of natural aromatics mixed with plentiful amounts of premium Aloeswood. The dry Aloeswood fragrance combined with the aromatics creates a gentle elegant sweet scent." Building upon the original Kobunboku recipe, Baieido's tokusen version combines multiple aromatics from the original recipe with select Aloeswood from the Indonesian region of Kalimantan Borneo to achieve this gentle sweetness.

Tokusen Kobunboku's stick note is indeed elegant and sweet. There is a compact spicy-powdery feel to it intertwined with cinnamon notes, giving it a light sweetness like traditional Japanese wagashi sweets served with tea. An airy coolness floats about the unlit stick, soft and distant. The sweetness of the stick is warm, soft, and semi-dry - elegant indeed. Unifying the stick's fragrance, a slight tartness blends the semi-dry sweetness with the stick's coolness in a wonderfully balanced dance.

Alight the warmth of the Kalimantan Aloeswood comes through almost immediately, turning the softly-sweet stick warm and mellow. There is an evenness to the burn that is relaxing, softening, and very enjoyable. The notes from the unlit stick transfer unusually well to the lit fragrance. Warm notes blend with dry semi-sweetness effortlessly. There is a distant camphor coolness outside of the warmth that is delightful and reassuring. The tartness of the stick blends both cool and semi-sweet notes together, giving the impression of fruitiness like plum blossoms upon the breeze. Below it all in a calm and relaxing base note the Kalimantan Aloeswood blankets one in calmness with a mellow warm earthy note that is wonderfully soft.

Tokusen Kobunboku's fragrance is splendidly effortless. There is less volume. Less intensity. Less to notice. But this is not to say the fragrance is any less - quite the contrary. Tokusen Kobunboku is soft and confident, blending and weaving warmth, dry sweetness, coolness, and soft tartness together in a masterful display of confident restraint.

As the stick is consumed, the fragrance deepens and expands. Encompassing and relaxing, the expansion is easy to drift within as if in a separate space physically and mentally. Tokusen Kobunboku is effortless in its ability to soften the world's rough edges, developing a sense of calm and confidence within its tart semi-sweetness. This would be an excellent companion to sit with in meditation, as it is expanding, calming, and refreshing.

Once extinguished, Tokusen Kobunboku's after-note softens, deepens further, and becomes even more mellow with a slight powdery vanilla-like feel. A dry sweetness rises softly and delicately like fresh blossoms in a distant garden. The spicy notes of the stick return, lending an invigorating quality to the cool notes experienced during burning. Tokusen Kobunboku's after-note is extremely long lasting, imparting a soft sweetness to a space like a faint found memory several hours later.

Tokusen Kobunboku is a wonderfully balanced and elegant juxtaposition of warmth and coolness, dry sweetness and fruity tartness. The resulting fragrance is one that is calm, gracious, and softly confident. A tokusen version of great depth, achieved through confident restraint, Tokusen Kobunboku is an experience of great calm and tart sweetness.

Summer green
Once fresh shoots of Spring
Magnificent difference.