Saturday, March 10, 2012

Japanese Incense Appreciation

Japanese incense burner, ash, mica plate and very fragrant resin wood

I've been taking the class Introduction to Japanese Culture through the Tea Ceremony via the Issoan Tea School, and it's so enriching!  I told the DH (dear hubby) it's like going to "tea church."  After each session, I leave feeling both more inspired and centered.  I'm so grateful to have access to this in my community. 

Today we explored haiku and the Japanese incense ceremony.  Kodo, "the way of incense," is as intensive to study as the Japanese tea ceremony. Perhaps even more-so, as I learned that one must be deeply versed in literature and culture.  Historically, this incense appreciation was an all-day affair, with the drinking of sake, poetry and guessing games, fortune-telling and of course the beautiful incense aroma appreciation. 

Today, we practiced writing haiku and learned how to inhale and enjoy the incense from warmed resin wood.  Unlike other types of incense, the one used here has no additives.  

Into the incense burner (above), you place a smoldering piece of charcoal.  Look at how beautifully the charcoal are presented (below).

Then you cover the charcoal with pretty white ash, which you shape with a flat metal device (similar to a butter knife). Sometimes finishing touches are even added with a feather.

Before inhaling the aroma, you exhale fully. Then you can pick up the incense burner and inhale.  The aromas were like nothing I had experienced - exquisite!  We tried three different types of wood.

Our teacher, Margie,  has quite the collection of resin woods from different parts of Asia, including Japan and the locations below. 

Many hours after our class, I continue to conjure the aromas from the warmed wood.


Marilyn said...

What a fascinating class. I don't think I would have the patience for it, but love hearing about it.

Rosemary said...

Learning to understand and appreciate another culture through the senses is quite interesting. Thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

That sounds like a fabulous class, Steph. Thansk for sharing!

Teafan said...

Wow - I didn't even know such a thing existed.

martha said...

I have been reading about this incense appreciation for the past couple of weeks and wishing to be able to find more specific data. I was thrilled to see your post topic on this and grateful for the links in it to learn even more. Thanks so much. I hope we can share this particular tea custom together sometime in the future.

Marlena said...

I've been to tea ceremony near us in Ithaca, NY; it left me feeling so calm and relaxed and with a much greater appreciation for another culture.

Get Natured said...

Oh wow, how interesting!