Shoyeido Incense Co., a traditional Kyoto-based incense company, has its beginnings in the mid-Edo period and has been producing incense for 300 years since. For Shoyeido, a new incense was designed with seven different fragrances, in seven different colours, and four different shapes. Each incense stick is designed to burn for approximately 5 minutes, with the vision that several incense sticks are linked together, likening to the “mizuhiki”knot (an auspicious motif) or“obijime”knot (one of kimono accessories). In such scenes, when the two incense sticks are tied together, two fragrances mingle and blend with each other. Depending on the total linked length and the number of knots, firstly fragrance A will last for 5 minutes, followed by the mixed scent of A and B for 5 minutes, and finally only fragrance B for 5 minutes, and so on the aromas change continuously over time.
The shape of the incense is complex, so the first step was to extrude a long, thin piece of incense. The soft incense was then placed on a 3D printed mould and allowed to dry. The ends of the incense sticks must overlap in order to ignite, so in the final process, the edges were finely sanded by hand.
An incense burner made of Japanese cypress was also designed. The burner is filled with incense ash and the lid can be pressed into the ash to imprint an undulated Japanese pattern onto the surface. There are six different types of Japanese patterns, including saya (interlocked manji), seigaiha (waves), ichimatsu (checkered), sankuzushi (parquet), shippo (interlocked circle), asa-no-ha (hemp leaf), Kagome (basket), uroko (triangles) and iriko-bishi (diamond). The incense is laid out on the ash and lit directly. In this way, the incense ash pattern is combined with incense sticks of various colours and shapes, so that the user can enjoy not only the fragrance but also the visual experience.