October 13, 2023

Listening to Kyukyodo Azusa

When it comes to the fragrance associated with the Orient, the scent of Jasmine tops the list. Alluring, feminine, and refined, Jasmine is a classic among floral tones, yet can often be overdone, heavy upon the sweetness of the blossom and the perfume tones of lesser incenses. As a non-native flower to Japan, Jasmine is treated differently with Japanese incense, in the quintessential Japanese understated elegance approach. Kyukyodo's beloved Azusa takes just this approach, with a soft refined Japanese Jasmine fragrance well balanced with woody, rich, and powdery tones representative of exquisite Japanese floral incenses.

Kyukyodo describes Azusa as "A gorgeous and deep fragrance that combines high-quality sandalwood with the scent of jasmine." Featuring a luxurious blend of Jasmine floral and woody premium Sandalwood notes, Kyukyodo Azusa is rich, sweet, and reminiscent of a haute couture Japanese perfume.

Azusa's unlit green stick is filled with rich honey sweet tones like the nectar of a flower newly in bloom. Classic oriental sweetness with hints of melon and citrus weave a fragrance that feels alive, full of passion, and distinctly feminine. For an unlit stick, Azusa is unusually powerful, yet not cloying or disturbing, creating a powdery sweetness with a tart overtones and a vanilla musky darkness that is intriguing.

Upon lighting, Azusa begins with a lovely creamy warm note of its woody base, providing a quick contrast to the fruity sweetness of the unlit stick. A soft powdery sugar note builds in next, adding a sweetness to the creamy wood tones at the top of the burn. Finally the floral tones filled with a citrus sweetness seen in the unlit stick return to fill in above the woody and powdery tones like a singer harmonizing with an accompanist. The overall blending of these notes creates a floral tone that weaves from woody, to sweet, to citrusy floral at will, effortlessly blending the three together at times and at other allowing one to stand above the rest in a seductive dance of fragrance.

As the burn progresses, the notes meld together, expanding within the space, surrounding the listener as though twining up the walls of the space filling it with blossoms. However, where other Jasmine fragrances would continue this process to the point of floral excess, Azusa does something special: it recedes. Either through an expansive olfactory quality or a burst of softer cooler notes, Azusa's fragrance suddenly turns transparent, becoming more shy, reserved, and spacious. A soft powdery quality comes to the fore, and the fruity sweetness moderates, tinged with soft vanilla and soapstone tones that add a rich warm depth to its fragrance.

Here there is an aspect to Azusa that takes on a living personalty, like an elegant courtier, graceful and reserved having graced the listening space. The earlier notes that danced separately now blend together as one elegant note of woody sweetness with hints of citrus and vanilla that almost seem to rise and fall like the breath of mediation. There is a soft calmness that is reassuring, light and feminine, with a lovely brightness to it. Yet the fragrance is not weak or frail, but full of potential and powerful as the void from which it emanates.

Azusa's after-note is soft, sweet, and full of citrus and vanilla tones that blend like a bouquet of flowers drifting in from an adjacent room. The tones present in the burn live on after the stick is extinguished, only softer with a warmer feeling as though an elegant woman has just left the room. From a distance, Azusa's after-note takes on a perfume like quality of a fine French Eau de toilette, fresh and floral, light and refreshing. Up close, the fragrance is more citrus and vanilla filled, with a warm woody personality that is welcoming and relaxing. Azusa's after-note is wonderfully penetrating and far reaching, coloring the space with its uplifting personality for several hours after the burn.

With a wonderfully soft, sweet floral fragrance that at times mixes lovely woody and vanilla tones, and a alluring after-note of perfumed citrus, Kyukyodo Azusa displays a classic Jasmine fragrance that lives up to it reputation as one of the finer floral Japanese incenses available.

Rocks in the garden
dampened by Autumn rain,
the Jasmine left jeweled.

Azusa is available in the following sizes: