October 19, 2023

To Awaji Island, the birthplace of Japanese incense

To Awaji Island, the birthplace of Japanese incense

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



How are you doing?

The scent of osmanthus is wafting in the air here. It's autumn, isn't it?

 On Monday, I accompanied overseas customers to the Awaji factory for the first time in a while, because They said they wanted to see the factory. In fact, Awaji Island is Japan's largest producer of incense, accounting for about 70% of all incense produced in Japan.

Since I was scheduled to accompany them from the morning, I headed to Shin-Kobe the day before and entered Awaji Island in a rented car. Driving slowly while looking around, the atmosphere was clearly different from before. There are glamping facilities, seaside cafes, Italian restaurants, trendy bars, and pancake shops! There used to be a bit of a lonely fishing village, and some of it still remains, but half of the seaside area looks like Shonan (seaside near Tokyo). Awaji is amazing!

The next morning, I had to wake up early to take pictures, so I had to leave my visit to the seaside bar for the next time. This time, I secretly planned to take my bicycle and do Awaiichi (150 km ride around Awaji), but thankfully, I could make an appointment of meeting in Osaka, so I will come back again in my bike jersey.

At the factory, a machine known as "Gorigori-kun," was kneading incense. In the Gorigori-kun, sifted fragrant wood and medicinal herbs are placed, tab powder, which is also the raw material and water are added and then knead.

Once kneaded, it is put into the next machine to be shaped.

In the past, the incense was dried naturally, but now it is placed in a drying room to let the air circulate evenly and gently so that incense does not bend. Although it has become much more convenient, there are still many processes that cannot be done without human hands.

As I finished my work here before noon, I paid a visit to the Kareki Shrine before returning to Kobe. It is said that "agarwood," a fragrant wood used to make incense, drifted ashore here about 1,400 years ago. I will have been working as an incense maker for 30 years next year. I am very grateful. I have expressed my gratitude to God.

A pleasant breeze is blowing.
I hope everyone enjoys the autumn season of tastes of foods and excursions.