Around the time of 538 C.E. Buddhism was introduced into Japan. This new wave of culture introduced other traditions, such as incense, into Japan as well, and since then, has become an important part of Japanese history. From Buddhist ceremonies, to rites performed at the Shinto shrines, incense has been used to purify their surroundings within many traditions. Many Japanese people now use incense quite often through their day to day lives.
Incense first rose to popularity in the region in China, where incense became popular among the royal class. Simple recipes such as plum and honey were kneaded together and used in rooms or on clothes and the common people eventually began using it as well. Although Japan has their own unique take, many of their traditions stem from Chinese influence.
The Tale of Genji portrays a unique glimpse into Heian era aristocracy and provides insight into how they created unique aromas.
Although Japanese incense began from humble beginnings, eventually they began burning the incense as well, and the tradition of Kodo began. During the Feudal period of Japan (Sengoku jidai, 1490 – 1573) the art of crafting incense sticks traveled from China to Japan where it was quickly picked up.
The creation of incense sticks was revolutionary at this time and allowed the traditions to become popular among the lower classes. The city of Sakai, a major trade port, had a reputation for the sale of incense.
Baieido Incense Company began during the Muromachi period (1338-1573). The legend all began when Kakuuemon Yamatoya began selling medicinal herbs in the city of Sakai. In 1657 the founder began going by the name “Jinkoya Sakubei” and incense became his main stock. “Jinkoya” was meant to mean ‘aloes wood trader’ and the name was particular to Sakai City. Only particular vendors at this time were authorized to use this name.
Using the time-honored methods of Jinkoya Sakubei, Baieido has crafted some of the world’s finest incense for over 300 years. Many of the methods and recipes have been passed down over the generations. Baieido has a strong passion to provide pure incense of the highest quality and is largely considered to be one of the world’s premier incense manufacturers since their inception in 1657.
This article was last revised on 02/28/2020.