March 01, 2020

Listening to Gyokushodo Suzaku

Often appearing as a sign of good fortune, the Vermilion Bird Suzaku, Guardian God of the South, is said to travel the heavens between her seven mansions in the constellations of the southern sky. Covered in brilliant flaming feathers representative of the element of fire, Suzaku is know for its embodiment of noble character and summer warmth. With such inspiration, how could Gyokusho create an incense with anything but magnificent warmth and substantial character?

Part of its Kojurin line of daily incenses, Gyokushodo lists Suzaku's ingredients as Indian Sandalwood, cinnamon, sweet pine, benzoin, spikenard, camphor, and spices. A Sandalwood blend, at the center of of Suzaku's fragrance profile is rich warm Sandalwood from Karnataka, India.

Suzaku's stick note is warm, fragrant, and slightly sharp. There is a dry sweetness to the stick that is both enjoyable and enticing. In the background beneath the overt warmth and dry sweetness there is the slightest hint of a perfume note - almost a musky or earthy dark tone - that runs in a low register. The stick is intriguing and enjoyable - a nice mix of just the right amount of sweet and savory.

Alight Suzaku's sharp notes come to the fore. There is a wonderfully warm tone that is spicy with a salty texture like the kitchen before a wonderful meal. With time, the dry sweetness of the stick deepens, blending cinnamon tones providing desert with the savory sharpness of the spicy top note. Suzaku is a Byakudan (Sandalwood) incense, and as the burn progresses the warmth of the Indian Sandalwood base grows, providing an evenness to the experience that is comforting and relaxing, adding slightly to the overall sweetness. There is almost a pepperiness to the overall fragrance at times that is very appealing, like the hot sharp-sweetness of a ginger cookie. This is an easy incense to become accustom to and drift within, the toasty sweetness of Suzaku's fragrance balanced expertly with sharpness.

Suzaku's after-note is wonderfully soft, sweet, with a hint of the sharpness seen in the burn. The Indian Sandalwood note is clear and hypnotically smooth and relaxing, providing a earthy grounding that is both pleasant and welcoming throughout dry down. With time, the after-note deepens, becoming a low smooth tangy Sandalwood note that remains supportively in the background.

Even though Gyokushodo's Suzaku falls within mainichi-koh (daily use), it is a wonderfully rich, warm, and luxurious fragrance that delivers well above typical daily Sandalwood blends. Perfect for relaxation or meditation, this is an invigorating scent that provides a perfect balance between the warmth of its Sandalwood base and the combination of dry sweetness and tangy savoriness.

March snow
I long for
the warmth of the south