December 07, 2023

Kodo, an incense-smelling ceremony, which I practiced after a long time

Kodo, an incense-smelling ceremony, which I practiced after a long time

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



How are you doing?


In the blink of an eye, we are down to the last sheet of the calendar.

Every year seems to go by faster and faster. Especially recently, it seems to be accelerating....

Is it just me? (Laughs)


I have not practiced Kodo for a while, but I heard that there is a weekday evening class, so I joined it for the first time in a while.

So, today, I would like to talk about "Kodo," which is one of the three major Japanese arts along with "Kado" (flower arrangement) and "Sado" (tea ceremony), but somewhat minor.

To put it briefly, the participants smell the scents of the incense burners being passed around in order, and try to distinguish which one is the same as which one is different from which one. It is like a game that requires concentration.


Since the fragrant wood (agarwood and high quality agarwood) has no scent as it is, small pieces of charcoal are placed in the incense burner and covered with ashes to warm the wood on the top of it. The wood heated in the incense burner has a deep and profound scent.


I was hesitant because it had been a while since I had practiced. The incense burner is passed around. I pick up the warm incense burner half covering it with the right palm to keep the scent from escaping. The pure scent of the fragrant wood came to my nose.

It smells so good!

I murmured to myself in the quiet classroom. (Laughs)


The utensils were also very beautiful, with detailed workmanship here and there.

Everything is small and cute, like a dollhouse.

The character drawn on this incense bag (the bag containing the fragrant wood) is Mr. Hikaru Genji, in reference to the "Genji Incense" which is the one of the types of play of an incense-smelling ceremony and the type of the day. What a fine attention to detail. I love this kind of thing. I can't get enough of it.


The "scribe" writes out the participants' answers. Now, it's time to check the answers. What is the result?

Unfortunately, there was no one who answers correctly for all the questions this time.

I answered only two correctly.


My job is to make "incense", but the practice of "Kodo" is a relaxing tine that is the complete opposite of my daily work. I concentrated on my sense of smell for about an hour. It is important to put myself in an unusual space.


It is even getting colder today.

The end of the year is busy, but please take care of yourself.