March 14, 2024

Listening to Shunkohdo Matsuba

As much a staple of Japanese gardens as the sakura blossoms of spring, Matsu 松 or Japanese pine has been revered for centuries. As the pine is able to withstand the harshest conditions and severest cold of winter, Matsu represent courage, perseverance, and longevity to the Japanese, and their branches are used as traditional New Year decorations. In Japanese pattern design, the Matsuba 松葉pattern represents pine needles and is used to emphasize longevity and perseverance, emphasizing the pine's ability to remain green even in the harshest environments. In Matsuba, Shunkohdo has taken the Japanese reverence for the pine's longevity and created an reduced smoke pine incense in the pattern of the fragrance of fallen pine needles.

Reminiscent of fresh greens upon pines in an alpine meadow, Shunkohdo Matsuba is described as an outstanding light and gentle pine fragrance with notes of pine, cedar, and evergreen. Refreshing, gentle, and softly sweet, Matsuba is a reduced smoke fragrance, ideally suited to bring the fresh fragrance of pine indoors without overwhelming the space it is burned.

Matsuba's unlit stick is stout, forest green, and fresh. With a soft sweetness that is barely perceptible, the fragrance of the unlit stick is fresh and green but quite subtle for a slightly thicker stick than normal Japanese incense. Matsuba's unlit note is one of earthy cleanliness, like freshly washed stone in the garden. It's true nature hidden like the depth of the pool beneath the rocks.

Once lit, Matsuba comes to life with a burst of pine acidity tinged with overtones of cedar, fresh, clear, and sharp. Within a short time, a lovely tangy sweetness of evergreen appears balancing the sharpness of the cedar acidity like a ray of sunshine upon evergreen boughs. As the two notes blend, a beautiful depth forms around Matsuba's fragrance, slowly enveloping the listener in a lightly sweet pine fragrance. Soft, peaceful, and serene, Matsuba fills the space gracefully with a soft calm.

In time, the acidic sweetness of pine builds, creating a wonderfully tranquil fragrant environment to float within. Autumnal and earthy, the warm light sweetness of pine is reminiscent of the sweetness of fallen leaves mixed with the earthiness of damp moss. Building consistently above this foundation, the soft sweet pine note continues to build as the burn continues, filling the space with a fresh, warm, bright tone that is relaxing and enjoyable. Matsuba's sweetness is enticing, with subtle sweet tones that are at times marshmallow and others sharply acidic with a savory quality. Savory and sweet with a distinctive warmth, Matsuba's balsamic tones are ever present yet light, available yet distant.

There is a wonderful earthiness that rides below the pine notes, like moist earth or moss at the base of the tree hidden under fallen pine needles. Slightly sweet, rich, and with a watery quality, Mastuba paints a fragrant picture of a weathered old pine lovingly tended in the garden wet from an afternoon rain. Sweet notes of fresh greens roll in and out of perceptions in gently rolling waves of fragrance, adding another rich element to Matsuba's fragrant vignette. Soft, enjoyable, and very relaxing, Matsuba is fascinatingly enjoyable and exceeds the utilitarian nature of its category as a pine incense.

Matsuba's after note is immediate, like the drink of a cool water on a hot day. The warmth of the burn is quickly replaced by a subtle soft cool sweetness that has a light floral quality reminiscent of the unlit stick. Unlike other Japanese fragrances whose after-notes remain, it is Matsuba's absence that is most noticed. But that is not to mean Matsuba has left nothing behind, as the space once filled with warm pine sweetness is left feeling clean and fresh, like the redolence of a garden after a rain. Although a light retiring sweetness remains with soft notes of caramel and spun sugar rising and falling, it is the freshness left in Matsuba's wake that is most enjoyable and ever present.

Filled with a delightful mix of softly sweet and warm tones, Matsuba is a delight to listen to. With a thicker stick and reduced smoke, Matsuba is a wonderful incense for those seeking a more subtle fragrance, with a smaller space, or who wish to relax with the fragrance of being among the pines at the edge of a reflecting pond in a lovely Japanese garden.

The rains stopping
Sun peering through the clouds
Water drops glisten on fresh greens.

shunkohdo matsuba product image

Shunkohdo Matsuba is available in the following size: