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 japanincense.com. 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.