Friday, November 4, 2011

still-sound 14. Yamadamatsu

Yamadamatsu makes an interesting jinko incense called Kumoi Aloeswood.  The brand is not very well known in the US, in fact (the source of nearly all of my incense purchases) does not even have a Yamadamatsu tab on the website.  You can only find it by typing its name in the search box.  Jay and Shintaro were kind enough to throw in a sample of Kumoi when they shipped me another incense I had ordered.  My reaction to the sample was immediate and visceral.  The scent is dark, I'll even describe it as black.  I smell powder, but not the white, talcum variety.  I think of a fine powder like soot, only black, not gray. Its presence feels masculine to me.  The fragrance emitted from the smokestream is strong -permeating the room for a long while. The incense conjured a mental image of the charred wood traditionally used in Japanese building practice.

When I was a kid I spent most of the summers outside - running around with my sister and kids from the neighborhood.  We would jump through sprinklers in an effort to get cool - and we would only drink water directly from the hose.  The taste of hosewater is impossible for me to describe but unmistakably distinctive.  The Kumoi Aloeswood incense has a trace of summertime hosewater.  I remember thinking that the excellent Nan Kun by Shoyeido also featured the hosewater taste/smell.

Imagine long planks of hardwood burnt quickly with a tremendous blast and then extinguished with summertime hosewater; steam still rising from the char.  Despite my reference to summertime, Kumoi Aloeswood is resolutely autumnal. 

I burn these sticks in a holder made of cast iron.  I found it at OK, the best shop in Los Angeles.  The man who owns OK, Larry Schaffer, not only has an enormous sensitivity for design and craft but is a fount of knowledge regarding aloeswood and Japanese incense.

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