10 Best Japanese Incense: Top Choices for 2023

Incense has been an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries, often used for religious ceremonies, meditation, and creating a soothing ambiance in the home. Originating from various materials like aromatic woods, herbs, and resins, these fragrances help purify the atmosphere and promote calmness and tranquility. When exploring the world of Japanese incense, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a vast variety of scents and styles to choose from.

In recent years, Japanese incense has gained popularity due to their high-quality ingredients and unique, refined scents that differ from traditional Indian incense. With a rich history dating back to the 6th century, Japan has developed distinct methods for creating incense, resulting in an exquisite product that is cherished by many.

When selecting the best Japanese incense for your needs, it’s crucial to consider factors such as the fragrance profile, burning time, and the quality of the ingredients. Authentic Japanese incense is typically crafted using natural materials, ensuring a non-toxic and environmentally friendly experience. Equally important is the personal preference for scent, as incense is meant to enhance your surroundings and provide a sense of relaxation.

With our extensive research and testing of various Japanese incense products, we’ve narrowed down a list of the top options that deliver exquisite scents and quality craftsmanship. Explore our findings in the following sections to discover the perfect Japanese incense that aligns with your preferences and elevates your sensory experiences.

10 Best Japanese Incense for Beginners

We have curated a list of the best Japanese incense products available, showcasing a variety of authentic and high-quality options for you to choose from.

Nippon Kodo Kayuragi Incense Set

Nippon Kodo Kayuragi Incense Set

Discover a meditative and relaxing experience with this premium set of Japanese incense.

Pros

  • Contains three pleasing scents
  • Comes with a mini ceramic holder
  • Bamboo-free core ensures a clean burn

Cons

  • A bit expensive for some budgets
  • Scents might be too subtle for some
  • Holder may be small for larger spaces

We had the chance to enjoy this Nippon Kodo Kayuragi Incense Set, which features three distinct scents: Sandalwood, Aloeswood, and Japanese Cypress. Each box contains 40 sticks and a mini ceramic holder, allowing for versatile placement options throughout your home.

Upon burning these incense sticks, we noticed the mild woody notes of Sandalwood—a soothing scent perfect for achieving a sense of peace and tranquility. Aloeswood provided a rich and deep fragrance that enveloped us, while the Japanese Cypress offered a refreshing and relaxing aroma, ideal for yoga, meditation, and other quiet activities.

The burn time for each stick is approximately 25 minutes, giving you ample time to enjoy the calming benefits of each scent. We also appreciated the clean and pure burn due to the absence of a bamboo core. This allows for an enhanced aroma without the worry of excess smoke or residue.

Although the price might be on the higher side, we believe you’ll find the quality and unique fragrances worth the investment. One potential drawback is that scents may be too subtle for some, depending on personal preferences. The included mini ceramic holder might also be small for larger rooms or spaces, but it’s still a convenient addition to the set.

In conclusion, the Nippon Kodo Kayuragi Incense Set offers an authentic Japanese incense experience. With its three distinctive scents, beautiful packaging, and clean burn, it presents a thoughtful and luxurious gift for yourself or someone special.

SHOYEIDO Plum Blossoms Incense

SHOYEIDO Plum Blossoms Incense

The SHOYEIDO Plum Blossoms Incense is a great choice for those seeking a calming and captivating scent for relaxation or meditation.

Pros

  • Pleasant blend of sandalwood, cinnamon, and saussurea
  • Suitable for relaxation and meditation
  • Long-lasting with 150 sticks per box

Cons

  • Some may find the scent too subtle
  • Sticks are thinner than traditional incense
  • Not suitable for those sensitive to sandalwood

When we first tried the SHOYEIDO Plum Blossoms Incense, we were immediately intrigued by its delightful blend of sandalwood, saussurea, and cinnamon, creating an inviting and calming atmosphere. Each stick burns for approximately 30 minutes, providing ample time for relaxation or meditation sessions.

The distinct blend of ingredients in this incense makes it stand out from other options on the market. The sandalwood base is paired with captivating notes of saussurea and cinnamon, resulting in a scent reminiscent of a spring forest. However, some users may find the scent too subtle for their preference, so it’s essential to consider personal taste before purchasing.

One thing to note about the SHOYEIDO Plum Blossoms Incense is that the sticks are thinner than your average incense sticks. This is typical of Japanese incense, and while it doesn’t affect the overall burning time or aroma, it might be a consideration for those who are used to thicker sticks.

In conclusion, the SHOYEIDO Plum Blossoms Incense is a beautiful choice for those looking for a calming and soothing experience. Its unique blend of sandalwood, saussurea, and cinnamon offers an evocative and tranquil scent perfect for relaxation or meditation. Just keep in mind the subtle scent and thinner sticks, and it could be the perfect addition to your incense collection.

Minorien Japanese Sandalwood Incense Sticks

Minorien Japanese Sandalwood Incense Sticks

We highly recommend Minorien Japanese Sandalwood Incense Sticks for their natural and soothing fragrance, perfect for relaxation and meditation.

Pros

  • Natural sandalwood fragrance
  • Long burn time of approximately 30 minutes
  • High-quality ingredients

Cons

  • Black spots on sticks due to natural fragrances
  • Thin sticks may burn quickly
  • Small pack size with only 65 sticks

We recently used the Minorien Japanese Sandalwood Incense Sticks, and we were impressed by their genuine and subtle fragrance. The traditional, simple scent of pure and natural sandalwood contributes to a comforting atmosphere, making these incense sticks the ideal choice for relaxation and meditation.

Each incense stick is 5.3 inches long and burns for around 30 minutes, allowing for a prolonged aromatherapeutic experience. The incense is made with natural sandalwood, makko powder, and minimal artificial additives, providing a more authentic scent. We found the soft fragrance perfect for unwinding after a long day or during focused meditation sessions.

However, it’s essential to note that the black spots may appear on the sticks if they’re stocked for a while. This is not a sign of defect but rather an indication of the natural fragrances used in the product. The sticks are also fairly thin, which may cause them to burn quickly. Additionally, there are only 65 sticks in the pack, which might not be suitable for those who use incense regularly.

In conclusion, the Minorien Japanese Sandalwood Incense Sticks deliver a high-quality, natural sandalwood aroma that’s perfect for creating a calming environment. With its long burn time and minimal artificial additives, we find it to be a favorite choice among incense enthusiasts.

ENSEN Natural Fragrance Incense

ENSEN Incense

The ENSEN Natural Fragrance Incense is a great choice for those who appreciate the authentic aroma of Japanese temples.

Pros

  • High-quality fragrance at a reasonable price
  • Easy to use with no bamboo core
  • Made in Japan with reliable domestic quality

Cons

  • Incense holder not included
  • Initial spicy fragrance may be too intense for some
  • Takes time to experience the true sandalwood fragrance

We recently tried out the ENSEN Natural Fragrance Incense, and we were quite impressed with the authentic aroma it brought to our space. Made from 100% natural ingredients, this incense manages to provide a high-quality fragrance at a reasonable price. The fact that it’s made in Japan adds to its reliability and authenticity.

One of the things we liked about this incense is that it’s easy to use, with no bamboo core. This feature allows for a smoother and more seamless burning experience. However, be aware that an incense holder is not included, so you’ll need to get one separately if you don’t already have one.

While the initial fragrance leans towards a spicy Chinese medicine scent, it eventually settles into a beautiful sandalwood fragrance reminiscent of Japanese temples. Some may find the initial scent a bit strong, but we found that it helps to create a truly immersive and calming atmosphere once it mellows out.

It’s worth noting that each incense stick has a burn time of around 30 minutes, allowing you to fully enjoy the fragrance in your space without it becoming too overwhelming.

Overall, we highly recommend the ENSEN Natural Fragrance Incense for anyone looking for an authentic Japanese temple fragrance that offers good value for money. Just be prepared to wait a bit for the true sandalwood scent to unfold, and don’t forget to buy an incense holder if you don’t have one already.

SHOYEIDO Moss Garden Incense

SHOYEIDO Moss Garden Incense

We highly recommend purchasing the SHOYEIDO Moss Garden Incense. This product is perfect for those who are looking for a light-hearted mood like background music.

Pros

  • Comes with 500 sticks, 5.25″ long, in a convenient dispenser box
  • Approximate burn time per stick is 30 minutes
  • Uses a patented new technology exclusive to Shoyeido, delivering pure essence without waste of a ‘support core’

Cons

  • The entire stick is incense, so there might be some waste
  • The scent is not super strong
  • Short sticks compared to majority of incense

The SHOYEIDO Moss Garden Incense is a great choice for those who want to relax and enjoy a light-hearted mood. The scent is complex and indescribable, making it perfect for those who want a unique and playful aroma. The dispenser box is also very convenient, making it easy to take the incense with you wherever you go.

The patented new technology exclusive to Shoyeido is also a great feature of this product. It delivers pure essence without waste of a ‘support core’, making it a great value for your money. The approximate burn time per stick is 30 minutes, which is perfect for those who want to enjoy the scent without having to constantly light new sticks.

However, the entire stick is incense, so there might be some waste. The scent is also not super strong, so it might not be the best choice for those who want a very strong aroma. Additionally, the sticks are short compared to majority of incense, which might be a downside for some users.

Overall, the SHOYEIDO Moss Garden Incense is a great choice for those who want to enjoy a unique and playful aroma. The dispenser box and patented new technology make it a great value for your money, and the approximate burn time per stick is perfect for those who want to relax and enjoy the scent without having to constantly light new sticks.

Nippon Kodo Morning Star Incense Set of 6

Nippon Kodo Morning Star Incense Set of 6

We highly recommend the Nippon Kodo Morning Star Incense Set of 6 for anyone looking for a calming and relaxing atmosphere in their home.

Pros

  • The variety pack of 6 scents creates a mood of tranquility, peace of mind, meditation relaxation, religion, and traditional aroma therapy.
  • Since they don’t use bamboo, they have less smoke and a purer scent than most other scented stick incense.
  • Each box comes with a small ceramic tile incense holder burner.

Cons

  • The incense sticks are smaller than expected.
  • The scent may not be strong enough for some users.
  • Some users may prefer a longer burning time.

The Nippon Kodo Morning Star Incense Set of 6 is perfect for creating a relaxing atmosphere for meditation, prayer, and yoga. The assortment of scents including Lotus, Vanilla, Lavender, Jasmine, Green Tea, and Gardenia is perfect for anyone looking to try different scents. The lack of a bamboo core means there is no wood odor or smell when burning, allowing you to enjoy the true fragrance of the incense.

The burning time of approximately 30 minutes and length of approximately 4.75 inches is perfect for a quick relaxation session. The incense sticks burn cleanly with very little smoke, making them ideal for anyone who is sensitive to smoke.

Overall, the Nippon Kodo Morning Star Incense Set of 6 is a great product for anyone looking for a calming and relaxing atmosphere in their home. The variety of scents and lack of bamboo core make it a unique and enjoyable experience.

Nippon kodo Mainichi KOH Sandalwood Incense 170 Sticks

Nippon kodo Mainichi KOH Sandalwood Incense 170 Sticks

If you’re looking for a high-quality Japanese incense with a delightful sandalwood scent, Nippon kodo Mainichi KOH Sandalwood Incense 170 Sticks is worth considering.

Pros

  • The sandalwood scent is pleasant and not overpowering, making it perfect for daily use.
  • With 170 sticks in a box, this product offers great value for money.
  • The incense sticks burn for approximately 30 minutes, allowing you to enjoy the scent for a decent amount of time.

Cons

  • The product description can be confusing, with 300 sticks mentioned in the feature bullets but only 170 sticks in the title.
  • Some users have reported that the scent is not as strong as they expected.
  • The incense may not burn evenly, leaving some sticks unused.

We recently tried Nippon kodo Mainichi KOH Sandalwood Incense 170 Sticks and were pleased with the results. The scent is not overpowering, making it perfect for daily use. We appreciated the value for money, with 170 sticks in a box. The incense sticks burn for approximately 30 minutes, allowing us to enjoy the scent for a decent amount of time.

However, we did find the product description to be a bit confusing, with 300 sticks mentioned in the feature bullets but only 170 sticks in the title. Additionally, some users have reported that the scent is not as strong as they expected and the incense may not burn evenly, leaving some sticks unused.

Overall, if you’re looking for a pleasant sandalwood incense for daily use, Nippon kodo Mainichi KOH Sandalwood Incense 170 Sticks is a solid choice.

Nippon Kodo Eiju Meiko Incense

Nippon Kodo Eiju Meiko Incense

If you’re looking for a warm and inviting fragrance that promotes creativity and inspiration, Nippon Kodo Eiju Meiko Incense is worth considering.

Pros

  • The cinnamon and amber blend creates a generous and warm aroma.
  • This large size box comes with approximately 260 sticks, making it a great value for frequent users.
  • The delicate and elegant decoration of the box makes it a valuable gift for someone special.

Cons

  • The fragrance may not be suitable for those who prefer lighter or floral scents.
  • The sticks burn for approximately 30 minutes, which may not be long enough for some users.
  • The product is currently listed as discontinued by the manufacturer, so availability may be limited.

We’ve been using Nippon Kodo Eiju Meiko Incense for a while now, and we appreciate its rich and inviting scent. The cinnamon and amber blend is warm and comforting, and the additional touches of star anise, camphor, and borneol create a complex and intriguing aroma.

One of the best things about this product is the large size box, which contains approximately 260 sticks. This means you’ll have plenty of incense to burn for a while, making it a great value for frequent users. Plus, the delicate and elegant decoration of the box makes it a lovely gift for someone special.

Of course, there are a few potential downsides to consider. The fragrance may not be suitable for those who prefer lighter or floral scents, as it is quite rich and bold. Additionally, the sticks burn for approximately 30 minutes, which may not be long enough for some users who prefer a longer-lasting incense experience. Finally, it’s worth noting that the product is currently listed as discontinued by the manufacturer, so availability may be limited.

Overall, we’re big fans of Nippon Kodo Eiju Meiko Incense and think it’s a great choice for anyone looking for a warm and inviting fragrance.

Shoyeido’s Autumn Leaves Incense Sticks

Pros:

  1. Quality Ingredients: Shoyeido’s Autumn Leaves Incense is made with high-quality, natural ingredients like sandalwood and patchouli. These components are known to offer long-lasting scents.
  2. Subtle Fragrance: The product doesn’t overpower your living space but offers a delicate, inviting aroma reminiscent of a crisp, autumn day.
  3. Burn Time: Each stick burns for approximately 30 minutes, providing an extended period of aromatic ambiance.
  4. Versatile: Suitable for multiple purposes such as meditation, relaxation, and as an air freshener.
  5. Handmade: Each stick is carefully hand-rolled, maintaining the craft and tradition of centuries-old Japanese incense making.

Cons:

  1. Cost: Higher quality often comes at a higher price point. Shoyeido’s Autumn Leaves Incense is more expensive than synthetic alternatives.
  2. Availability: Due to its high demand and handmade nature, this product can sometimes be out of stock.

This is not just an incense stick; it’s an experience that transcends ordinary olfactory delights. The sheer craftsmanship and natural ingredients ensure you’re receiving a product that brings traditional Japanese artisanship into your home. If you’re looking for a way to add a luxurious and serene atmosphere to your space, Shoyeido’s Autumn Leaves Incense is an investment worth making. Beyond just smelling great, it can serve as a focus point during your meditation or yoga practices. With its high-quality ingredients and exquisite scent profile, it’s a small price to pay for an item that can offer so much peace, focus, and tranquility.

Nippon Kodo OEDO-KOH Pine Tree Incense

Pros:

  1. Soothing Scent: The Pine Tree variant of the OEDO-KOH line offers a calming and refreshing scent, reminiscent of nature and open spaces.
  2. Presentation: Comes in beautiful, artistic packaging that would make for an ideal gift.
  3. Long-lasting: Like Shoyeido, these sticks also have a decent burn time of approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Less Smoke: Produces less smoke compared to other incense sticks, making it easier for people with sensitivities to enjoy.
  5. Historic Brand: Nippon Kodo has a longstanding history of producing quality incense, offering a sense of reliability and trustworthiness in their products.

Cons:

  1. Price: Similar to Shoyeido, Nippon Kodo’s high-quality incense also comes at a higher price point.
  2. Scent Strength: Some users may find the scent too subtle, depending on personal preferences for fragrance intensity.

Elegance and heritage meet in Nippon Kodo’s OEDO-KOH Pine Tree Incense. This is the product for those who not only want their homes to smell good but to also feel like an ethereal escape. The Pine Tree scent can make your indoor space feel like an extension of the great outdoors, invigorating your senses and refreshing your mood. It also serves as an excellent companion to spiritual or self-care rituals. The artistic packaging further makes it a perfect gift for anyone who appreciates fine, traditional crafts. If you’re seeking an authentic Japanese experience combined with the tranquility only nature can offer, the OEDO-KOH Pine Tree Incense should be your go-to choice.

In summary, both Shoyeido’s Autumn Leaves and Nippon Kodo’s OEDO-KOH Pine Tree offer unique experiences that uplift and enrich your personal space. While they may be on the pricier side, remember that you’re not just paying for incense—you’re investing in an experience that honors ancient traditions while providing contemporary comfort. Whether you’re new to incense or a seasoned aficionado, these options offer an excellent entry point into the world of luxurious, Japanese incense.

Buying Guide

When it comes to buying Japanese incense, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best product for your needs. Here are some features to consider when making your purchase:

Quality

One of the most important things to consider when buying Japanese incense is the quality of the product. Look for incense that is made from high-quality ingredients, such as natural plant extracts, and that is free from synthetic fragrances and chemicals. Quality incense should burn cleanly and evenly, with a pleasant aroma that is not overpowering.

Scent

The scent of the incense is another important factor to consider. Japanese incense comes in a wide range of scents, from floral and fruity to woody and earthy. Think about the mood or atmosphere you want to create, and choose a scent that will help you achieve that. Some scents are also believed to have therapeutic properties, such as calming or energizing effects.

Type

There are several types of Japanese incense available, including sticks, cones, and coils. Sticks are the most common type and are easy to use, while cones and coils are better for larger spaces or outdoor use. Consider the size of the space you will be using the incense in, as well as your personal preference, when choosing the type of incense to buy.

Packaging

Finally, consider the packaging of the incense. Some incense comes in simple, minimalist packaging, while others are packaged in ornate boxes or containers. Think about how you will be storing the incense, as well as the aesthetic appeal of the packaging, when making your choice.

By considering these features, you can choose the best Japanese incense for your needs and enjoy the benefits of its soothing aroma and therapeutic properties.

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