September 17, 2022

Listening to Kyukyodo Shorankoh

Some things, be they fine art, fashion, or pop stars, present such unique expression through their art that they defy comparison. So unique in their presentation, they become the standard by which others are compared. Knowing that their presentation exists in an ever changing dance, they further elude comparison by shifting their perspective at will, offering different facets across different settings and time. With Shorankoh, Kyukyodo has created a fragrance that exists in such a position of uniqueness, filled with a ever changing traditional fragrance that defies comparison.

One of the most famous incenses in the world, Kyukyodo's Shorankoh (Laughing Orchid) is a stunning fragrance of profound effect. Described as an enlightened balance of premium Aloeswood bitterness tempered by a complex blend of Sandalwood and traditional and sweet spices, Shorankoh is a wonderful blend of sweet and savory, elegant and refined, utterly unique and wonderful.

Shorankoh's stick note is lightly sweet, sharp, and mysterious. There are notes of maple syrup, cool breezes, and warm spices blending together to form a completely unique presentation from its tan stick, even differing in intensity from stick to stick. Sharp molasses mixed with brown cinnamon sugar is set against an almost lively green tone that is both cool and refreshing, while maintaining a earthy clove grounding note beneath it all. Shorankoh unlit is delicious, sweet, savory, earthy, and uncommon.

Alight, the first note of Shorankoh is deep and luscious, filled with a striking warm sweetness like fresh cookies from the oven. An earthy Aloeswood sharpness mingles with this sweetness in an exquisite balance, growing in presence as its initial sweet cinnamon note subsides. In time the Aloeswood note develops a warmth that is delectably autumnal with a semi-sweet sharp note like fresh ground coffee. There remains a low mix of other tones experienced in the unlit stick as well in supporting roles, from soft green notes, cool Borneo whispers, and curry and maple syrup notes, but all of these early on take turns well in the background beneath the ever increasing strength of an earthy bitter Aloeswood note they lend balance to.

Balance seems to be the key to Shorankoh's changeable experience. Just as the Aloeswood note begins to take over, the sweeter notes in the background rise to awareness with a Sandalwood softness, allowing the mind to drift toward them. But just as Shorankoh's sweetness rises to complete awareness, the notes inexplicably fade, allowing the Aloeswood's sharp, slightly salty, earthy note to again come to the fore. With time, this dance becomes hypnotic, with the cycle of sweet and Sandalwood tones morphing to savory tones repeating in a calming and soothing rhythm. With time, additional notes expand the sweet and savory palette to create a wide range of tones dancing harmoniously together.

Although there is a sharp bitter Aloeswood note in the mix, it is one note in Kyukyodo's wider display of its mastery of fragrance. Shorankoh's ever rotating dance of notes range from spicy sweetness, to sharp woodiness, to soft Sandalwood creaminess, to earthy and breezy - sometimes all at once, and some times individually. There is a comfort and ease that develops within this hypnotic dance that is calming, serene, and comforting. It is the dance between tones that gives Shorankoh its unique place in the Japanese incense pantheon, and creates an ever changing traditional fragrance that is refined, elegant, and impressively rich.

Once extinguished, Shorankoh again returns to its sweeter roots, tempering the initial experience at the start of the burn with a softness that lends a wonderful transparency to its after-note. The molasses and brown sugar note of the unlit stick now has a more full body presentation, mixing in creamy Sandalwood tones while now taking on a light and airy element with faint hints of floral. Tempered by the Sandalwood tones, the Aloeswood note of the burn softens considerably, leaving its bitter tones behind for a warm semi-sweet and savory note that blends wonderfully with the transparent sweetness. Shorankoh's long lasting after-note is delightfully warm, rich, and transparent.

Filled with elegance, warmth, and rich uniqueness, Kyukyodo Shorankoh is timeless, traditional, and superbly balanced. A wonderful experience for those looking for a mutable expression of traditional Japanese fragrance, Shorankoh is a delightful dance for the senses.

Hints of Autumn
Summer's end foretold
in the coolness of the morning.

Kyukyodo Shorankoh is available in the following sizes: