April 29, 2024

Listening to Gyokushodo Hana no Sho

From the arrival of the first plum blossoms of the year that bloom even when covered in snow, to the much celebrated hanamai 花見 flower viewing of cherry blossoms in the spring, to the lotus blooms of summer and the kikatenrankai 菊花展覧会 exhibitions of the regal chrysanthemum in the fall, flowers play a large part in the culture of Japan. Their fragrances celebrated in poetry for over 1400 years, hana 花, flower in Japanese, occupy an important position in the Japanese art of incense. With Hana no Sho, Gyokushodo takes us into the very element of hana's fragrance with an exception incense highlighting the elemental nature of flowers.

Part of Gyokushodo's excellent flagship Kaori no Sho series at the pinnacle of teh company's incense blending expertise intended to transcend fragrance and draw out elemental forms, Hana no Sho is described as a well balanced fragrant embodiment of the elemental form of flower. Fusing the refreshing qualities of Indian Sandalwood and camphor with the rich earthiness and calmness of Aloeswood Hana no Sho is a sweet, clean, and light fragrance that is airy and sublime.

Hana no Sho's dark chocolate brown stick is sharp with a musky sweetness and slight sour note in reserve. The two notes together give the unlit stick a interesting floral tone that spontaneously arrives as the two combine. Hana no Sho's stick is rich, deep, and profoundly sharply sweet. The unlit stick promising a floral fragrance that is anything but soft and retiring.

Upon lighting, Hana no Sho begins with a strong sweet aloeswood note, warm and enjoyable like fresh baked good from the oven. In time a sharpness develops lending an edge to the initial softness that is enticing. As the stick warms, the notes shift, taking on a perfumed nectar like note, rich and luxurious like the redolence of fine perfume. As the various notes rise and fall and interesting blending occurs, creating a unique musky sweet fragrances that is both floral and full of depth.

Where most Japanese florals are lightly sweet like sakura at a distance or plum blossoms on the cool late winter breeze, with powdery qualities that moderate their sweetness, Hana no Sho is clear, crisp, and sharp with no hint of powder or transient softness. Instead in Hana no Sho there is little distance between the listener and the bloom, like raising a bouquet to the nose to enjoy the fragrance fully and generously. Golden and rich like pollen upon a flower's stamen, Hana no Sho gives us a bee's perspective of the essence of a flower in full bloom in the spring.

Yet at the same time Hana no Sho is relaxed, reserved, and transparent. Rather than an aggressive or over intense fragrance, as the burn continues Hana no Sho becomes more transparent and enveloping. Distinctly floral, yet at the same time open and woody, its high quality sandalwood and alosewood balancing their sweet and bitter qualities in a way that favors a floral presentation rather than a woody one. Despite its woody base, a rich floral fragrance develops that is far reaching and gentle with a sharp caramel musky sweetness. Hana no Sho is like being surrounded in a meadow of flowers in bloom, their beauty infusing the air with their rich fragrance.

Intended to provide an impression of the elemental nature of flowers, Hana no Sho is itself a fragrant bloom, its fragrance changing like a meadow in bloom depending upon where the listening is in relation to it. Up close it is sharp and musky like a bouquet raised to the nose. From a distance, sweet and woody with a lightly green note like a meadow filled with blooms upon the breeze. The interplay of fragrance is really uniquely enjoyable in the way Hana no Sho is changeable depending upon the location of the burning stick in relation to the listener.

Hana no Sho's after note cools quickly, its camphor coming to awareness like a cool fragrant breeze. The sharpness of the burn moderates quickly to a cool sweetness that is light and effortless. Left behind is a light sugary sweetness like Japanese wagashi pressed sugar candies, soft and uniquely transparent. The musky perfumed note of the burn is transformed, becoming softer, sweeter, and lighter with a cool overtone. In time the after-note fade gently, like the bloom falling, fading to a memory.

Hana no Sho lives up to Gyokushodo's promise of incense that goes beyond incense. Made from the highest quality aromatic materials skillfully blended with the rarest and most exquisite Aloeswoods, Gyokushodo has created a harmonious blending of premium Indian Sandalwood and superb Aloeswood that provide a poetic illusion of the elemental nature of a flower.

Bumble Bee defying physics
floats from flower to flower
aware of only fragrance.

Hana no Sho is available in the following size:
100-stick box