Kyukyodo Sho ran Koh (Laughing Orchid) Incense Review

Kyukyodo Sho ran Koh Incense Sticks

Today I will be reviewing Kyukyodo’s Sho ran Koh incense sticks. These are interesting to me because nearly everybody I have asked have said strange things about these, such as that the scent changes each time you burn it. I’ve also heard that it has moderate quality ingredients but masterful blending.

Here is a photo of the assortment it came in:

Kyukyodo Incense Assortment
Kyukyodo Incense Sampler Assortment

The packaging is quite pretty and definitely Japanese styled.. Once you open the paper wrapping, you are left with 4 tubes of different incense sticks. The scents included in this sampler include Chitose, Seiai, Maigoromo, Shinnyo, and Sho ran Koh.

Sho ran Koh translates to ‘Laughing Orchid’ and is a recipe from a recipe formulated during the ancient Chinese Tang Dynasty. The main difference between this variety and the varieties of ancient times is that the agarwood available today simply isn’t as high quality as it used to be. Regardless, it supposedly gives a good impression of this fabled incense formulation.

The production description says:

This aloeswood based incense is so fine that it is the only incense burned at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, Japan. Described by Zen Masters as the veritable fragrance of Buddhism.

As you see, they say that it is the only incense burned at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto Japan. I have no idea if that is true. If you know, please comment on this article and let me know.

Anyways, I’ve actually burned this incense several times in order to try to get a good reading on this material. I will preface this by saying that I really enjoy this incense blend. I could probably burn this all of the time. That being said, the fragrance profile does indeed seem to change slightly each time I’ve burned it. Either that, or my perception of the fragrance does. This is definitely one which will make you question your interpretation.


The smell is very complex. I definitely smell the sandalwood, agarwood, spices, as well as some floral element at play. At times, it seems to have a sort of creamy element to it.

At other times, the fruity element seems even a little tart, almost similar to a plum. It also seems to have slightly more camphor then most Japanese incense blends which I have tried. It’s really interesting how the fragrance seems to shift and morph. I believe I understand why people rave about it’s masterful blending.

A very interesting incense stick which I may have to do more ‘listening’ to at a later date. If I come to more conclusions, I will update this article.

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