Long-established shop in Kyoto taking incense and its fragrance seriously since 1834
Sanjo Street is lined by Kyoto machiya townhouses, but one long-established incense shop stands out with its appearance from the rest. You will know it from its wooden sign which has a nice patina to it. Once you open the sliding door and step inside, it feels like you had entered a different world. Inside the store, you can smell the gentle scent of sandalwood, agarwood, and kyara (the highest grade of incense in Japan). On top of the glass showcase, there were many glass jars, containing such things as sandalwood, musk, and agarwood. Next, to the wooden molds they have dried ingredients used for making incense. It feels as if time were moving slower inside this shop; it feels tranquil.
Welcoming me into the store was Mr. Hayashi, who was packing incense sticks under a dim light as I got to the store. He told me, “Fragrances are a personal preference,” so in accordance with this he listens to the needs and wants of every customer, and lets them test the incense before buying. This earnestness can be also felt in the products.
Hayashi Ryoshudo keeps on making new scents, all based on the traditional recipe book, which has been passed on from generation to generation. “I’ve become fond of scents,” says the smiling Mr. Hayashi – he is an artisan who, although finds traditions very important, keeps on trying new things. This long-established store in Kyoto is a place where you can feel the Japanese artisanal spirit in the air, so I would like to recommend making a visit to it when in Kyoto.