January 07, 2022

Listening to Tennendo Shorin

Shorin-zu byobu is considered a masterwork of Japanese sumi ink painting. Created by Hasegawa Tohaku during Momoyama period in approximately 1595, the "Pine Tree screens" are part of the collection of the Tokyo National Museum, and designated a National Treasure in 1952. Depicting a pine forest in the mist, the artwork focuses on the profound calm and peace created not by the towering trees themselves, but in the space created by mist.

Silence or space in between in the west is often viewed as emptiness. To the Japanese however, represented by the concept of "Ma" 間, this space is not considered empty, but powerful, full of potential, and the realm of unlimited possibilities. It is in Ma that truth may be found. In Tennendo Shorin, inspired by Hasegawa Tohaku's masterwork, the profound calm of this space in between is highlighted in a masterful fragrance.

Tennedo describes Shorin as a profound and calm incense that creates a dignified fragrance within a superb Aloeswood base. Understated as the description is, it is an apt summation of Shorin's potential and possibilities.

Shorin's unlit stick is evergreen in both color and personality. There is a marked sharpness to the stick filled with strong evergreen notes that blend hints of cologne, leather, pine resin, with a soft coolness drifting in the background. A slight dry sweetness exists low within Shorin's stick, mixing with a lovely sharp green note. The overall impression given is one of an autumn morning among towering pines, the ground still wet with dew. Shorin possesses an animalistic and raw nature - this is an old forest we are visiting, filled with the spirits of the woods.

Once lit, Shorin begins with a lovely soft sweet Aloeswood note. Cinnamon notes warm as the stick settles in, enhancing the sweetness of the initial lighting. This Cinnamon note then begins to develop a soft fruity sweetness that mixes with Shorin's warm Aloeswood note. Together, these combine to give Shorin a lovely sweet and slightly spicy soft fragrance that is easy to enjoy like incense comfort food.

Unlike other Tennendo Aloeswoods, Shorin's Aloeswood plays a supporting role, highlighting the sweet and spicy notes with its warm and friendly base. As the stick warms completely, some of the semi-sweet cologne notes seen in the unlit stick softly return, but well in the background, mixing with the spices in the foreground to add complexity and depth to Shorin's sweetness.

Where the unlit stick gave the impression Shorin would be a Cypress fragrance interpretation, the lit stick provides quite a different approach. Shorin's fragrance is less about the trees than the space between, the fragrance focusing on its soft sweet character giving its Aloewood base room to breath. It is the mist between the trees - the spices, rather than the trees themselves - the wood, that gives Shorin its beauty. It is a fragrance of the profound silence and awe of nature upon witnessing the early morning mist painting the cypress grove in a soft dreamlike calmness that has been evident long before our modern world took shape.

There is something delicious about Shorin's fragrance. Warm and sweet, with an easy to listen to calming nature, this would make an excellent daily incense for scenting a space of meditation. The sharpness of the unlit stick vanishes once burned, with Shorin providing a soft, warm, gentle sweetness like a Japanese confection - sweet but not overpowering or cloying. Supremely approachable, there is nothing daunting about Shorin. It is like a friendly older relative, welcoming and supportive in a familiar comforting way, easy to just sit in silence with.

Shorin's after-note cools rapidly, leaving its sweetness hanging in the air untethered. As the fragrance fades, its sweetness is slowly overcome by a soft semi-sweet Aloeswood note that is rich, earthy, and relaxing. The long lasting after-note is excellent and far reaching, and over time becomes a more pronounced sweet Aloeswood with delightful hints of saltiness evident in surrounding spaces.

Soft, sweet, calming and peaceful, Shorin is a joy to sit with, enjoying the silence of its company as the endless possibilities of the day ahead unfold.

The world still sleeping
Cool morning mist

Tennendo Shorin is available in the following sizes:
Large box of 400 sticks
NEI packs of 40 sticks.