Japanese Incense | About Baieido
In 538 / 552 Buddhism was introduced into Japan from China. From that point, Buddhism as well as incense has become an important part of Japanese history and tradition. Incense holds an invaluable role in Buddhist ceremonies and rites as well as in those of the Shinto shrines, purifying the surroundings.
In addition to religious use, incense has developed a profound link with our everyday lives since the very old times. For example, the mixture of various ingredients and then kneading them together with plum meat or honey came to be widely used in rooms, placed in the sleeves of garment, and even used to imbue clothes with. The development of such a love for incense in Japan is vividly detailed in the Tale of Genji, in which you can catch a glimpse of the stylish aristocracy of the Heian era working so diligently to mix their very own original aromas.
From these simple beginnings, Japanese incense underwent a transformation - "Takimono-awase" (fragrance mixing). Shortly thereafter, the burning of natural raw incense ingredients, which was called "Ko-awase" (incense mixing), took place. These later became the source of the Kōdo (way of incense).
During the Sengoku era (1490-1573), Chinese of the Ming Dynasty transmitted the techniques of creating incense sticks. It was a simple form of powdered incense rolled into a stick that was easy to carry and more affordable for the common people. This was when incense popularity expanded, and when incense became accepted by all classes. In the center of all this was the city of Sakai, a major port for foreign trade from China, Spain, and Portugal. Sakai was where Baieido was started by the founder Kakuuemon Yamatoya, who became a wholesaler of medicinal herbs. In 1657, the founder named himself "Jinkoya Sakubei", specializing in the sale of incense ingredients and incense sticks.
Incense creation has always been an extremely delicate process. At Baieido, the recipes have been handed down from generation to generation in an unbroken, secret oral tradition. Baieido continues to protect the secret formulas of Jinkoya Sakube. It is the very desire of Baieido to provide the true sacred fragrances to their customers through the methods treasured since its establishment in 1657.