May 02, 2020

Listening to Shoyeido Baika-Ju

There's nothing like sweets in stressful times. Right now, with most people sheltering in their homes, some comfort food is a welcome break from thinking about practicing social distancing every time we go out. I guess that's why it's hard to find flour these days - everyone is baking the classic foods like cookies and brownies that provide a sense of contentment. There's something about the aroma of these sweet confections baking in the oven that is serenely comforting. In the case of the sweet fragrance of Shoyeido's Baika-Ju, we find that such comfort doesn't have to include the calories!

Part of their Shoyeido Selects line, Baika-Ju (plum blossom) is described as creating "...a warm, comforting halo of fragrance intended to be economical enough for daily use." A popular blend of sandalwood and cinnamon, what Shoyeido doesn't mention is the heavenly sweetness that is as delightful as fresh baked cookies straight from the oven. Comfort in the form of incense!

Opening a box of Baika-Ju is like opening a spice cabinet - the rich fragrance of cinnamon and sweet spices are unmistakable and yet light and well balanced. The stick-note is much the same: sweet, rich, and heavenly. There is a wonderfully smooth base note like fine Mexican vanilla that gives the stick a distinctive calm and wonderful creaminess. The stick-note alone reminds me fondly of fresh baked treats in my grandmother's kitchen.

Once lit, Baika-Ju is sweet, powdery, and spicy with an unmistakable warm cinnamon top note. There is a softness that has a comforting warmth about it, like a mother's protective gaze. The powdery sweetness has a distinct feminine feel to it, like the sophistication of a warm and loving matriarch. The enticing sweetness provides a polished top note, with robust cinnamon notes and hints of cherry mixing into a delightful combination.

Although this is Sandalwood blend, besides a low creamy note, the wood is there as a base for the cinnamon and sweet creamy spices to build from. This is not a wood-lover's incense, but instead a fragrance to brighten the mood and warm the heart.

Setting aside the sweet top note, Baika-Ju just feels light and joyful. This is happy childhood memories rolled up in sweet comforting warmth. It's got all the great qualities of the best sweet delights without any of the carbohydrates. The deeply satisfying fragrance of warm cinnamon brings back memories of thick, rich cinnamon toast, combined with the tart sweetness of fruit jam on a relaxed sunny spring Saturday morning.

Baika-Ju's after-note is deceptively long lasting. The sweetness seems to expand from a tart to a rich fruity sweetness that hangs in the air like a fond childhood memory. This is the stuff that the little kids would even eat their peas to get to after dinner. The fragrance is soft and comforting, with the after-note bringing a smile of its fond memory upon returning to a space Baika-Ju has filled.

In Baika-Ju, Shoyeido has surpassed a simple plumb blossom fragrance, and instead created a sense of warm comfort that is as sweet as it is enjoyable. What a wonderfully uplifting daily incense this would be during our confinement at home.

Warm sweet comfort
Like Spring sunlight