Monday, May 17, 2010

Where do you buy zazen supplies and what do you buy?

About once per year I buy incense and candles.  I used to pick up the former in Japan given the opportunity, and the candles I would purchase at the Portland Saturday Market.  However, that grew unreliable with time,  and now I buy them from here.  The folks at Beeswax Candle Works make a wonderful product.

Nowadays, regarding incense, I purchase pretty much exclusively from  As my practice is a Zen practice, they pretty much have the right stuff. Now I must admit in terms of incense, my purchase choices do betray some of the worse stereotypes about American Buddhist practitioners.  Then again, I'm sure the lion's share of the market for these incenses exists in Japan, so although I use "not cheap" incense, I don't use way out of line stratospherically expensive incense.  I use:
  • Baiedo Byakudan (Sandalwood) Kobunboku The website "Olfactory Rescue Service" (yes, an incense review blog; I thought I mentioned them once) says of this incense in one of its "Best of the month" series, " Easily one of the best deals in Sandalwood on the market. Nice spice and camphor top notes with a really high quality wood which holds down the finish. If you are looking for Sandalwood be sure to check this one out, it’s a big favorite around here. A slightly dryer alternative might be Shunkodo’s Sarasoju or for the wetter side the Fu-In Sandalwood." And I agree with them regarding the latter.
  •  Minorien Fu-In Sandalwood is a wonderful pure beautiful sandalwood scent. It does have a "wet" scent though.  One whiff of this stuff will transport you to a temple you've never known, somewhere in Thailand or Burma...In addition...
  • Minorien Fu-In Aloeswood and Fu-In Kyara. These are pretty much as their reviews on the Olfactory Rescue Service state.
  • Minorien Kyara Ryugen, for extra special occasions.  It is as they say here, a nice pointer to how really beautiful Kyara scents are, without being absurdly expensive.  You can spend a lot more money on incense than this admittedly expensive product.  I don't use this stuff often.
  • Nippon Kodo Mainichi Koh.  It's reviewed here. Monasteries in the US often use this brand; it is the least assuming of incenses. I am going to be purchasing this brand because I do find the Baiedo, which I'd been using, to be pretty strong in the space of my zendo.

So that's it.  I do wonder if anyone else who reads this buys similar products, and what they buy.


Petteri Sulonen said...

Other than occasional kapok refills for the zafu (which I get from the zendo; there's a big ol' box of it there, which costs a discretionary donation into the dana box), no special supplies here.

Perhaps my Lutheran heritage shows in my home practice -- I have nothing other than a zafu and zabuton, plus a switch-dimmable bulb for the ceiling lamp so I can turn down the light a bit. I find the ritual we have at the zendo very significant, but I would feel *really* weird trying to recreate any of that home.

So no incense, no altar, no little bronze Manjushri, no nothing but a plain plaster wall here.

Mumon said...

This probably is an effect of the fact that I've stayed in Japanese houses where a family altar has these accoutrements as well as the fact that the zendo I go to is literally in the teacher's house, so it's not that unnatural for me.

Adam said...

While not a Zennie, my wife and I buy incense for our alter at any of the local metaphysical shops, or anywhere that decent incense is sold. We range from Patchouli to sandalwood to Amber or rose or anything we think smells nice and evokes certain feelings and qualities. I purchased a stone Buddha head statue at a local tribal festival full of vendors that was made locally up here in Snohomish County. We have purchased some sort of Shambhala incense from the internet once, but I forget where.

Anonymous said...

"So why is a humidor good for cigars but bad for incense?"

Hope this helps :)