June 04, 2018

Listening to Nippon Kodo Hana-no-Hana Lily

Over 100 years ago, Hana-no-Hana because Japan's first incense to combine eastern incense techniques with western perfumery. Nippon Kodo's Hana-no-Hana 2018 reboot of this much loved 100-year old floral incense is something to behold because it is both a wonderful floral incense in its own right while also offering a unexpectedly complex fragrance that goes beyond a simple floral.

Described by Nippon Kodo as "... a dignified, green-floral-woody scent that is made of high-quality Indian White Sandalwood added to a mellow musk-style aroma...", Hana-no-Hana Lily is a fresh invigorating fragrance. Soft, sweet, cool, and green, Lily is an exquisite example of Japanese incense's ability to go beyond simple imitation of a scent.

The stick note is slightly sweet with a powdery feel that is surprisingly complex. Floral, woody, and perfume notes intermingle to give Hana-no-Hana Lily a wonderfully fresh bouquet without being lit. The feeling of freshness the fragrance elicits reminds one of morning dew on fresh lilies in the garden, cool, fresh and green. There is a prevalent 'green' note mixed with slight bitterness over a solid Sandalwood base that lends a delightfully clean and fresh fragrance.

Upon lighting, Lily shines. There is a deeply satisfying powdery note that is both subtle and sweet, much like the fragrance of Lily of the Valley. The floral note is not harsh or overly dominant, instead preferring to remain subtly floating above the Sandalwood base that provides its backdrop. The perfume note provides a complementary sweet tone to the floral fragrance, adding to the powdery note that continues throughout the burn. The slight bitterness of the stick is barely noticeable during the burn, yet tantalizingly present enough to provide a 'dewy green' contrast to the sweet tones of the floral perfume mixture, giving Lily's fragrance a distinct sense of greenness. I'm not sure which brought greater enjoyment - the sweet interplay of the floral and perfume scents or the freshness of the dewy-green-woodiness - the interplay between the two is so enjoyably refreshing.

The after-note is amazingly fresh and subtly sweet. The green notes come to the front and rides upon a base of sweetness that loses the powdery texture experienced during the burn as they become deeper and richer in texture. The soft perfume note remains, sweetly lingering like the fragrance of cut flowers. The feeling of freshness is so prevalent that the remaining notes are almost secondary to the illusion of fresh flowers being somewhere near.

Hana-no-Hana Lily is a gem of an incense. It is both a wonderful floral and a complex fragrance that lends itself to multiple listenings, intent upon not being confined to being only a floral scent. The fresh green tones mixed with the subtle fragrance of lily is wonderfully refreshing and enjoyable. As the birds sign outside my open windows, the refreshing fragrance of Lily infuses my home with a relaxed and easy joy the beginning of summer brings.

The dew of summer morning
bejewels the green of the Lily's leaves.
Given such riches, songbirds sing with joy.