November 18, 2020

Listening to Baieido Tokusen Kokonoe 九重 

The site of ceremony, government, royalty, and courtiers, the Imperial Palaces of Japan are more than just the residences of Emperors. As places to conduct court business, meet with dignitaries both domestic and foreign, or conduct state ceremonies, the Imperial Palace was as varied in uses as it was draped in opulence. In creating Kokonoe - Imperial Palace - Baieido has sought to create a fragrance that is just as varied, refined, and opulent.

Baieido describes Kokonoe as "...calming and refined incense that combines premium Kalimantan Aloeswood from Indonesia and traditional natural spices from India". The result is a fragrance that is complex, vibrant, and luxurious.

Kokonoe's Stick note exceedingly subtle and full of hints. There are hints of camphor and the traditional Baieido fragrance profile one comes to expect from their premium line. There is a slight touch of sour in a sweetness that hints of tartness. Lightly sweet with a fleeting hint of citrus, Kokonoe's stick is mysterious and distant.

Once lit, Kokonoe becomes less shy and more revealing. Upon being allowed into Kokonoe's world, a pronounced sour-bitter blended note greets the listener, providing a strong canvas from which to begin upon its Kalimantan Aloeswood base. As Kokonoe warms, a creaminess, dry and sweet with a slight powdery quality, begins to appear. Delicious sweet creamy warmth with a bitter undertone like a fresh latte assumes dominance with warm and relaxing tones. Yet every so often, the warmth turns cool, like a gentle breeze of camphor brushing one's cheek with the crispness of winter. The low sour-bitter note seen at the start continues with a pronounced spiciness that works as a savory foil to the dry-sweetness of the top note.

The mysteriousness of the unlit stick continues during Kokonoe's consumption. The various notes of dry-sweetness, sour-bitterness, creamy warmth, and soft coolness rise and fall, showing themselves only to retreat behind one another in a continuous dance. The interplay of the main notes is uniquely active, but at the same time refined and measured. There are no jarring changes, just subtle shifts like the glance of a fine lady hidden quickly behind a gilded fan.

There is a decadence to Kokonoe that is elusive. Often implied as much as stated, there is a wealth of interplay between notes, but in a refined concordance that is soothing and relaxing. Wealth of this nature is often implied rather than flaunted, like the opulence that lies behind palace gates - seen rarely but always known.

Kokonoe's after note is complex. A mix of powdery bitter with a dry-sweet after taste rests in the background. Although the fragrance appears close up to be quite subtle and retiring, from a distance it presents an unexpected long lasting earthy sour note that is surprisingly far reaching. Leaving the space in which it was burned, there is the surprise of many of Kokonoe's notes more present in adjacent rooms.

Active, vibrant, and often mysterious, Kokonoe produces a fragrance that is soothing and relaxing, while at the same time challenging and entertaining. Luxurious, yet restrained, listening to Baieido's Kokonoe is a wonderful way to while away the day.

Blowing rain falls sideways
Yesterday's sun hidden behind clouds
Fall changing to winter.