October 12, 2020

Listening to Baieido Tokusen Kohen 香苑 

As a frustrated gardener, I often marvel how nature can create such beauty seemingly without effort. There is a tranquility that shines through confidently in nature's simple beauty that despite my best efforts I can not come close to matching. Such is the way with all natural talents. They appear effortless in their ability to transform their surroundings. The same can be said of Baieido's Tokusen Kohen. Effortless, confident, and transparent, it offers much to the listener that hints at beauty that is just beyond the senses.

Baieido describes Kohen 香苑 (Fragrant Garden) as "...soothing scented incense that combines premium Hakusui (White Water) Vietnamese Aloeswood, White Birch from India, and traditional natural spices [...] a rare gem perfectly suited for meditation or life's special occasions." This is a fragrance where the sum of the parts are much greater than the whole, and in fact, often so much so as to make the parts completely translucent in service to the overall experience.

Kohen's stick is delicious. Restrained in its richness, spicy, with the sweetness of cinnamon. Yet light, soft, and gentle. There is a gossamer sensation that is exciting in the sheerness of the fragrance the stick provides, like the wonder of a dragonfly wing's transparency.

As Kohen begins to burn, there is a short lived bitter note to start off the experience. This is quickly replaced with a warmth that is transparent - more like a warm feeling than that of a fragrance - like the feeling of seeing an old friend after a long absence. A powdery quality mixed with a deep richness appears and asserts itself effortlessly. A semi-sweetness reminding of the unlit stick, only more faintly, provides a low dry note to Kohen alight.

Rich, like a painting of many layers and textures, Kohen is hypnotizing in that is it often just beyond reach of description, like the indescribable passing feeling of déjà vu. At times there is a coolness like camphor, but without the feeling of a breeze. Instead the fragrance expands opening the senses; cool only in the sense of its expansive feeling of space.

The rich Hakusui Aloeswood tones are soft, receding, and like the rest of Kohen's experience, almost transparent in their subtly like chiffon building in waves of folds. Hints of sweetness, spiciness, and saltiness gently rise and fall. In the traditional Rikkoku-Gomi's Alosewood classification, the receding changeable nature of Manaka's softness seems present in Kohen's subtle character.

A powdery note builds as the burn continues, eliciting a soft and silky feeling like a pleasant word upon a  breeze. There is an ease to Kohen - simplicity from its subtly that is reassuring and confident without the need to be outspoken. Softness is at the fore with this fragrance, reassuring in its warmth and comforting in its soft touch.

Kohen's afternote is completely transparent, quickly fading from memory. This is an incense the exists in the moment, focusing our attention upon the here and now. Yet the space is left feeling elevated, clean, and fresh in its wake, Kohen's translucence carrying its silky richness invisibly far from the original space.

An uplifting fragrance, Baieido's Tokusen Kohen is mysterious and enticing. It is warm like the love of a close relative and supportive like a loving family. Semi-sweet and expansive, Kohen opens the mind in a way stimulating conversation does, yet with an ease that is rewarding and gratifying like a long discussion with a reacquainted friend. 

Memories made
With one miles away
Yet beside me always


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