Some people shun all incense because the only kind they are used to are ones that are dense, smokey, and have overpowering fragrances. But as you’ll learn in this Shoyeido incense review, there are alternative options.
Not only does Shoyeido make good incense, their products have been artfully prepared by master blenders for twelve generations. The resulting scents are subtle, yet captivating, and they are made without a wooden core. If you prefer incense cones or coils, they’ve created options for you as well.
Learn more about the history of Shoyeido and the company’s product offerings below.
All About the Shoyeido Company
As I mentioned, Shoyeido has been in operation for twelve generations, dating back to 1705. Rokubei Moritsune Hata worked in Kyoto’s Imperial Palace thousands of years ago where he learned how to create incense, the beginning of which dated back to the Asuka Period in Japanese history.
The empress of that time, Suiko, was given aromatic agarwood found by locals on the shore of Awaji. I am not sure how long after that the palace began to train workers in the artistry of fragrance making, but Hata not only learned the technique centuries later, he shared the fruit of his talent with people who lived beyond the palace walls in his store, Sayasa.
And in every generation since then, over 300 years, Shoyeido natural incense has been made by hand in Kyoto, Japan. Shoyeido means “various degree” in the Japanese language, and I think it might refer to experiencing their incense with all of your senses. Similar to candles, you won’t smell every natural ingredient of the incense right away. You have to allow it time to linger, waft throughout your home, and inhale with your entire being.
Shoyeido sells multiple incense stick collections, as well as incense coils, cones, and holders, as well as, aromatic wood chips.
In addition to their online presence, it’s possible to shop Shoyeido in person when in Japan.
How Shoyeido Incense Is Made
A lot of craftsmanship is devoted to the process of creating Shoyeido incense. They ethically source high quality natural ingredients. In fact, they are registered with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), and the United State’s Department of Fish & Wildlife to demonstrate that they are respectful of the shores where their driftwood is found. Shoyeido incense is made without any animal byproducts and is not tested on animals.
To make Shoyeido incense, raw fragrance materials, like woods, flowers, spices, and roots are ground together and mixed with a natural binder and water. True artistry is needed to blend just the right amounts. This paste is then squeezed out of a machine that looks like an oversized pasta maker. You can see what I mean in this image. The resulting sticks are then left to dry.
Because of the way Shoyeido incense sticks are made, you can’t use the same incense holders as you would for dipped incense. With dipped incense, the core wood extends beyond the incense fragrance, making that end narrower. But Shoyeido incense sticks do not taper, so you have to use incense holders with a wider hole, which you’ll notice in the first product that I suggest below.
Top 7 Shoyeido Incense Products Reviewed
It’s difficult to narrow down a list of the best Shoyeido products because they all tend to smell divine. So this is a list of scents and sets that I’ve found to stick out the most, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any Shoyeido product.
1. Shoyeido Eternal Treasure Incense Gift Set
Eternal Treasure fragrance is a blend of cinnamon, clove, and sandalwood – sweet, spicy, and woody.
Each of the forty sticks are a little over five inches long. If given as a gift, you won’t have to search for a correctly-sized incense holder because that’s included as well. The ceramic holder is 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ inches.
- Ready for gift-giving
- Nice amount of sticks for the price
- Subtle starter scent
- Would be nicer if it were an assortment
2. Shoyeido Floral World: Lavender Incense Cones
Floral World is Shoyeido’s collection of incense cones celebrating popular floral and wood scents: pine, rose, lavender, and jasmine.
A small cone holder is included with the 36-piece set and each cone burns for about ten minutes. This floral scent is noticeable without being overpowering. It’s mellow, not perfumy like with some incense companies. It’s like fresh spring lavender in a cone.
- Short burst of fragrance
- Common scent most people enjoy
- Accurate scent without smokiness
- Scent doesn’t last as long
3. Shoyeido’s Daily Incense Assortment of Six Fragrances
You’ll receive forty each of six fragrances, for a total of 240 incense sticks that are close to nine inches each and burn for close to an hour. Created with those who burn incense daily in mind, included scents are:
- Eternal Treasure – one of Shoyeido’s most popular fragrances, a combination of sandalwood, cinnamon, cloves and spices
- Golden Pavilion – an earthy fragrance, the primary scents are sandalwood, patchouli, and cinnamon
- Great Origin – warm and comforting combination of cinnamon and sandalwood
- Kyoto Autumn Leaves – smells like the fall of fresh autumn leaves mixed with spices and sandalwood
- Kyoto Cherry Blossoms – just like cherry blossoms in spring, this stick is a blend of rhubarb, cinnamon, clove, and additional herbs and spices that create a tart but pleasant, refreshing fragrance.
- Moss Garden – more sandalwood but this time blended with patchouli and a sweet resin with cinnamon and vanilla notes, and floral undertones. Moss Garden is another fan favorite.
In keeping with the initial driftwood offering given to Empress Suiko centuries ago, most Shoyeido fragrances have some portion of sandalwood in the recipe. But even a small addition of other spices, flowers, and resins can create a completely different scent, thus creating a different atmosphere in your home.
- A variety of scents to try
- Over 200 sticks will last a long time
- You may not like every scent
4. Shoyeido Avenue of the Villa Incense Coils in Nijo Fragrance
I haven’t forgotten those of you who prefer coiled incense. This is a set of ten coils, three inches in diameter, and it comes with a ceramic holder.
As with incense sticks, place your coil on the holder, light the tip, and look for a glow when you blow out the flame. Each coil can smolder for about two and a half hours, and you’ll smell a refreshing afternoon rain scent with a hint of flowers. There aren’t any synthetic ingredients, so you’ll only smell its natural ingredients.
It’s a soothing scent that can help you wind down at the end of the day.
- Lovely, refreshing scent
- Smolders much longer than an incense stick
- Can be used as a natural timer during meditation
- Fragrance lasts even after the coil is finished
- You’ll need place the coil holder on another tray to catch the ash
5. Magnifiscents: The Angelic Series Bundle
The Angelic Series is part of Shoyeido’s Magnifiscents line and includes thirty 5 ¼ inch sticks in each of the five boxes for a total of 150 sticks, and each one burns for up to thirty minutes. Each scent conveys a different mood:
- Hope – woody frankincense, warm gingerlily, and cloves are the most dominant scents
- Inspiration – an earthy and spicy blend with hints of licorice and sandalwood
- Joy – possibly the lightest scent, this one’s a combination of green tea leaves and vanilla, with sandalwood and hints of clove
- Love – more full bodied, you’ll experience velvety vanilla, star anise, sandalwood, and herbal hints
- Peace – a relaxing blend of myrrh, clove and sandalwood with hints of fruit and vanilla cream
The scents are soft and lovely combinations. You hardly smell any smoke at all, just pure fragrance. As with most Shoyeido packaging, this set is covered in beautiful Japanese paper and would make a nice gift.
- There’s a holder in each box
- Wide variety of blends
- High quality fragrances
- Would make a nice gift set
- You may dislike one or two
- The scents are too subtle for some people
6. Shoyeido’s Horin Incense Assortment
If you would prefer to sample Shoyeido’s coil fragrances, this assortment allows you to do that. Horin means, “fragrant ring,” and the fragrances included in this assortment are normally offered as incense coils. Each scent in Shoyeido’s Horin incense coils line is named for a Japanese period or location.
It’s a set of twenty short incense sticks plus a small round incense holder. Each stick is close to three inches long and will last about twenty minutes each. Five scents are included, and you’ll receive four sticks of each of the following scents:
- Nijo (Avenue of the Villa) – a scent reminiscent of fresh rain
- Shirakawa (White River) – smells like spicy, sweet, freshly fallen snow, just like White River Valley
- Genroku (Returning Spirit) – a nod to Japan’s, Golden Age, it smells of aged wood and herbs
- Muromachi (City of Culture) – like the earth, but with spices
- Tenpyo (Peaceful Sky) – soft, sweet, natural blend
For some reason, all but River Path, a frankincense and cinnamon blend, are included in this sampler pack. But, if you wanted to try the other coiled fragrances before purchasing a larger pack of them, then this would make a solid option.
- It’s packaging is perfect for gifting
- You get to sample multiple scents
- Lingering fragrance
- It excludes one fragrance from the Horin collection
7. Shoyeido Mountain Mist Round Ceramic Incense Holder
Since Shoyeido incense sticks are not tapered at the end like dipped incense, you will have to use this incense holder or one that’s similar to it. Generally speaking, incense made in India is tapered at the end, while most Japanese incense is not. So, if you search for an incense holder similar to this one, it might help to search for a “Japanese style incense holder” to help narrow your search options.
This particular holder is made of glazed ceramic, and it’s about 4.5 inches in diameter. There’s just one hole in the center, so if you prefer to burn more than one incense stick at a time, this holder won’t do.
I should also mention that many of the Shoyeido incense packs include a small holder, so check to see if your product choice will come with a holder before buying one.
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Shoyeido incense fits the hole perfectly
- Doesn’t take up much space
- Effectively catches incense ashes
- Small stub of unburned incense remains
- Disc is smaller than some expected
- Actual color of the glaze may vary
Shoyeido Incense Customer Feedback
I haven’t come across many Shoyeido customers who were displeased with their purchases. In most cases, customers not only love this brand, but they find it hard to ever consider buying from a different one.
Favorable Customer Feedback
- Customers love the fact that Shoyeido incense smells natural, not like chemicals or pure smoke.
- There are multiple incense formats to choose from. You can select your favorite shape and size of incense, and still find your preferred fragrance.
- You can breathe easily when using Shoyeido incense. Although the scent fills your home, it’s gentle, and doesn’t make your space feel stuffy.
- Shoyeido’s artisan roots are apparent and lend to a clean, delightful burn.
- Assortment boxes and gift sets really give customers a strong sense of which fragrances they like best.
- It does help to sit with the incense and allow your senses to identify the layers of fragrance.
- Customers also love the company’s transparency. Since all of the ingredients are listed on the packaging, it gives them an idea of what they’re inhaling, and it also helps them get a feel for which scents they like best so that they know what to look for when making future purchases with Shoyeido.
Less Favorable Customer Feedback
- It seems that Shoyeido’s incense holder is also handmade and thus there are variations in ceramic glazing. You may order one color and receive a different one, so if you are expecting to coordinate with your decor, that may not happen.
- You may have to use a toothpick or some other narrow object to push out the incense stub once it’s done smoldering.
- With the shorter sticks, you’ll have to burn more than one at once in order for the fragrance to fill the entire room.
One of the best benefits of using Shoyeido incense is that because they use all natural ingredients, you know that you aren’t inhaling anything that is harmful to your health. You can fire up a coil or burn many sticks throughout the day without the fear of inhaling toxic smoke.
I have a soft spot for companies that create products using traditional methods. And I have even more affection towards handmade products. So I might be biased here, but I would suggest you start with Shoyeido’s assortments if you are new to this company. The Angelic Series seems to be the most approachable set. This one would make a great gift for those new to incense.
My second suggestion would be the Horin incense assortment. Also offering a variety of scents, this one is a combination of more traditional Japanese fragrances. Some who have lived there say that this set brings back all of those memories.
Which one do you think you’ll try first?