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Agarwood, Aloeswood, and Oud — Jin-koh

The ultimate in the incense experience is Koh-doh ceremonial style burning of wood chips. It dates back to the Muromachi period (1336-1573) It became known as "The Art of Incense." Koh-doh was established around the time of the shogun Shogunate Yoshimasa Ashikaga (1443-1490) who according to some reports asked Sanetaka Sanjonishi to evaluate and classify his 130 varieties of aloeswood. Sanetaka Sanjonishi is shown in the Japanese Kodo lineage charts as the originating head, or father of the Kodo ceremony. Sanjonishi was also a famous Waka poet, and expert in Chinese arts and ceremonies, including the early tea ceremony.


Today, there are three main schools remaining in Japan. They are Oiye-ryu, Shino-ryu, and Hachiyryu.

However, Koh doh (Incense ceremony) is often confused with it's predesessor, the Incense Contests of the 11th century. Where the Kodoh ceremony uses only aloeswood, the "incense contests" used compounds of incense called neriko.


Even before this, as written in the first novel, "The Tale of Genji," soradaki (empty burning) and the secular appreciation of incense was becoming popular during the Heian period, and both soradaki and sonae-koh (incense offering to the Buddha) are mentioned by Lady Murasaki (lavender) Shikibu in her epic novel.

Today, Koh-doh groups, and individuals, around the world are beginning to learn and respect this old Japanese tradition and eloquent expression of aromatic appreciation.


We consider it a great honor to helpful in presenting this fine art to our friends and neighbors in North America, and we will try and answer any question you may have.


For more information of the Japanese incense ceremony, read the article "Japanese Incense" at


Copyright  1999-2001 David Oller & Kyozaburo Nakata

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