Appreciating Japanese incense has become an art form in Japan. Kodo, or “The Way of Incense,” is a Japanese traditional art form that ranks among two other classical traditions, namely Sado (the tea ceremony) and Kado (Ikebana, or Japanese flower arrangement).
Kodo is not as widespread as the other two mentioned arts, however I have found that many tea ceremony practitioners are also familiar with the art of burning incense and are also appreciate Japanese incense.
Japanese incense is said to affect the mood and bring about a relaxing and enjoyable experience for the person appreciating it.
This traditional art dates from the Muromachi era (1336-1573) and originated as an informal game the aristocracy played. It may seem very formalized nowadays, often taking place in tea ceremony rooms and temples while wearing kimono, but it was actually a fun way to pass the time, tell a story, or relieve solitude. Here you can see a group in a traditional tatami room which actually overlooks a beautiful Japanese garden, creating a serene spot to take in these wonderful fragrances.
During a Kodo ceremony, the incense is not actually burned like you would for a solo meditation or just to add a fragrance to your home. A fragrant wood (Kyara, Rakoku, Sumatora, Manaka, Sasora, and Manaban) is placed on a Mica plate over top coals that release the fragrance very subtly. These six types of incense represent Rikkoku Gomi, or The Five Tastes from Six Countries.
During the ceremony a great deal of attention is placed on the tools as well as the act of burning the incense, similar to the tea ceremony. It has also developed into a game of trying to figure out what fragrance was being burned. Students of this art often take traditional one-on-one lessons with a teacher, but recently group classes have also become more popular and less formal. The two most predominatnt schools of Kodo are the Shino School and the Orie School. Students also study from manuals and journals.
It is said that there are 10 Benefits or Virtues from The Way of Incense:
It helps to communicate with nature and the universe
It rejuvenates the mind and body
It relieves mental or spiritual “pollutants” that build up
Kodo promotes alertness and enhances concentration
It fills the feeling of loneliness and solitude
It helps calm you during busy and stressful times
Too much is not a bad thing
Even small doses of incense do wonders
The incense can last for centuries
Daily use is not harmful
Appreciating Japanese incense has become an art from that can intrigue you, stimulate the senses, and relax you. Japanese incense has many health benefits as well brings about feeling of sophistication and tranquility. Places like Grand Island Serene Gardens dedicate themselves to spreading this cultural tradition of peacefulness and relaxation.
A wide variety of Japanese incense of different qualities and prices are carried at places like http://www.grand-island-serene-gardens.com/japanese-incense.html. Kodo (http://www.grand-island-serene-gardens.com/kodo.html) and appreciating Japanese incense have become a way to connect with yourself and your environment.