May 31, 2024

Genji Incense at the incense ceremony

Genji Incense at the incense ceremony

(The following is translation of the e-mail which was sent to Japanese customers.)

This is Kanako Yoshida from YOUYOUANG.
How are you doing?


In Maebashi, it is a pleasant day before the rainy season. Roses, peonies and rhododendrons are in full bloom in parks and gardens. It is a little annoying when the rainy season starts, but hydrangeas are friends with raindrops. They also look beautiful.


Last weekend, I attended the Genjikokai ceremony held by the Kinkokai, Oie school of incense art where I have been taking lessons.

The venue was Rinkokaku, a modern Japanese-style wooden building built in 1910 in Maebashi. It is a national important cultural asset of Japan and a very elegant guest house where many members of the royal family have stayed. Many scenes in the music video of "Matsuri" by Kaze Fujii were shot here. Incidentally, the video introducing YOUYOUANG was also shot here. Satsuki azaleas were in full bloom in the garden.

There was also an exhibition of twelve-layered kimonos, a live performance of the beautiful sounds of the koto (Japanese harp), and a translation of the Tale of Genji in modern Japanese poetry, so there were many ways for visitors to enjoy themselves outside of the incense ceremony. Above all, the incense tools are very beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed myself while guiding the visitors. Thanks to the teachers.

But still……, “It is hard to put on even one kimono, so it should be really hard to wear 12 kimonos, no matter how beautiful they are. I wonder if the nobles had physical strength. They must have been too heavy to move..." I thought realistically.


The theme of ceremony this time was "Genji Incense" from "The Tale of Genji. For Genji Incense, five packets of each of five different fragrant woods (for example, eaglewood, three types of agarwood, one type of sandalwood, etc.) are prepared (25 in total), and five randomly selected packets are heated in an incense burner and passed around. The right hand is used to wrap around the top of the incense burner to keep the scent and smell it.

When writing the answer, which fragrant wood is same as which, use the Genji-ko diagram, which is often used in kimono patterns. First, draw five vertical lines, and connect the ones with the same scent with a horizontal line, numbering them 1, 2 from the right. There are 52 possible answers, which are compared to the Tale of Genji (52 chapters, omitting the first one and the last one), and each diagram is named after a chapter. What a graceful world!

After spending a whole day at the incense ceremony, even I feel like I have become elegant. But as soon as the guests leave and I see off the head of the family, I immediately start the removal process. This is where I really start my work (laughs). Working together with my senior disciples, I efficiently cleared away the chairs and rugs, and an hour later, the work was safely finished. The event ended in the light of day. As a new disciple, I had a wonderful experience.


I didn't bring a change of clothes that day and it got too hot moving around in my kimono, so I didn't hesitate to grab a beer on the way home.


Before the food arrived, I ended up having a couple of beers, confirming that I was back to my normal self, instead of the elegant me! (Laughs)


It is a pleasant sunset again today.
If you can go home early, why don't you watch the sunset on your way home?