March 02, 2019

Listening to Nippon Kodo Kayuragi - Cypress

The Japanese have long had an reverence for nature which is deeply rooted in over a thousand years of Shinto beliefs. In fact, the practice of "forest bathing" - just relaxing surrounded by trees - was made part of the public health program in Japan over 35 years ago. Nippon Kodo's Kayuragi Cypress builds upon this intuitive familiarity with nature, creating the experience of being among Japanese Cypress in incense form, allowing the senses to relax and de-stress in an incense forest bath.

Nippon Kodo describes their Cypress blend of Kayuragi as "the fresh, calming fragrance of Japanese Cypress." There is nothing hidden in this Kayuragi variant, as Cypress is just as its name represents - a pure Juniper-like incense based upon a Japanese Cypress forest.

The stick note is wonderfully refreshing. There is a coolness of menthol that mixes with sharp notes of pine resin. There is a soft, sweet, moist green that takes on a perfume quality yet enhances the Cypress feel like the fragrance of fresh greens. The dominant note is of course that of evergreen Cypress which overrides all other supporting notes. The combination of fragrances experienced from the stick is one of fresh green pine needles on the tree, wet with morning dew.

Kayuragi Cypress alight is sweet, cool, and soft. The illusion of being in a Cypress grove is ever present, like passing mist through a large stand of pine trees. The cool notes experienced in the stick continue and deepen through the burn, making Kayuragi Cypress feel like being among sweet new pines in the crisp morning air. Kayuragi is a reduced smoke line of incense, and this bears out in the burn as Cypress produces smoke, but less than traditional Japanese incense, making this suitable for smaller spaces.

The after-note is quite sweet, with a pleasantly surprising subtle perfume quality. The sweetness experienced in the stick returns after the stick is consumed, leaving an almost caramel note mixing with the lingering Cypress overtones reminiscent of the sweet smell of pine needles, a blanket of brown on the forest floor. The after-note is pleasantly long lasting, gently fading over time from awareness.

Science is proving that "forest bathing" has legitimate physical and psychological effects, relaxing both mind and body. It's clear, even brief interludes among trees relaxes people. With Kayuragi Cypress, the illusion of being within a Cypress forest is probably the next best thing to actually being there, and hints at some of the same de-stressing relaxing effects of the real experience among the pines.

The mist deposits its dew upon the boughs
My mind relaxes with its passing
My spirit renewed.