It is written in The 10 Virtues of Koh that in the midst of busy affairs, incense can provide a moment of peace. When listening to incense, often the experience can transcend the ingredients and the limits of fragrance, opening the world to a range of memories, heightening the senses, and expanding and comforting the mind. With Tokusen Kokonoe 九重, Baieido has created just such an incense. One that creates such peace and calm, that one can almost be forgiven for noticing the transcendence of fragrance, rather than the fragrance itself.
Baieido describes Tokusen Kokonoe 九重 (translated as "Imperial Palace") as a "calming and refined incense that combines premium Kalimantan Aloeswood from Indonesia and traditional natural spices from India." As exotic a combination as that sounds, Kokonoe proves to be a fragrance that is both mysterious and inspiring.
Kokonoe's stick note is refreshing, semi-sweet, and slightly floral. Everything about this stick presents as refined elegance. There are hints of cinnamon, clove, and most importantly, the excitement of wonders to come. This is a stick that is delightful in its mystery, only flirting with its potential in a tantalizingly soft and restrained bouquet. Unlike other Baieido recipes, Kokonoe's aloeswood note and spices are not as overtly present individually in the stick, but work together in concert to produce a rather well developed and unified single stick note. It's clear from the unlit stick that this is not going to be a solo performance of ingredients, but a unified concert of a well practiced ensemble suitable for the royal court.
Once lit, the initial note is warm, silky smooth, and velvety. The Indonesian aloeswood has a wonderful rich depth that blends superbly with the semi-sweet tones of the spices, resulting in a pleasing relaxation into which one can easily settle the mind. There is a distinct ease about Kokonoe; refined and subtle, while also gracious and welcoming. As the burn progresses more sharp notes present themselves in the mix, with slight tangy and salty notes of premium aloeswood playing within the overall composition. There is a wonderful interplay of sweet and savory that develops as the depth of the aloeswood hits its stride. The toasty cinnamon experienced in the stick greets you initially, but the sweetness is replaced with a saltiness from the deep resonance of the Indonesian aloeswood. Kokonoe has all the best traits of a confection from a master chocolatier, blending both richness, depth, sweetness, and saltiness into one inspired experience for the senses.
The after-note is superb, with a reach that is rarely been rivaled in my home. Kokonoe's fragrance filled even far away hallways with its warmth and semi-sweetness, its toasted cinnamon and aloeswood fragrance hanging in the air like a welcoming caress. But it was the feeling of peace and ease that was the most prominent trait in my listening experience, even in the after-note. There was the sensation that one could be at ease and relaxed in Kokonoe's embrace. The subtlety of the fragrance made it natural to drift into the background of the mind, but the feeling of comfort and tranquility was ever present even after the stick was consumed. This was a different experience for me in that the fragrance, although wonderful in its richness, took a back seat to the feelings of warmth and ease Kokonoe inspired.
Perfectly suited for meditation, Baieido's Tokusen (Premium) Kokonoe 九重 is an exceptional value and would be a superb grade of daily incense or just to relax and unwind within its ease and inspired grace.
Warmth embraces me
Mind relaxed, adrift on the breeze
The soft rustle of leaves outside my window.