I’m always amazed at the moods, seasons, plants and flowers that Asian incense can evoke — considering the basic building blocks of most Japanese, Chinese and Korean incense are few (benzoin, frankincense, aloes wood, sandalwood, clove, cinnamon). Jing Kwan (Clear Gaze) incense from Korea is made from all-natural ingredients and contains frankincense, aloes wood, sandalwood and some “secret” spices.
Jing Kwan was formulated by Zen (or “Son” in Korean) monks for use in temples. It was created to aid meditation by calming mental or physical distress. Korean incense, and Buddhism, made their way into Japan in the sixth century, and the aromas and formulations of Korean and Japanese incense are similar, with the focus on sweet, powdery woods and spices.
To me, Jing Kwan incense smells autumnal. When I burn this incense, I smell the sweetness of dried plums, mild resins and smoldering leaves. Jing Kwan is a gentle incense. The thin sticks burn slowly (over 50 minutes) and release very little smoke. You could burn this incense in a small space and not be overwhelmed. It is a perfect incense for meditation; it does not distract from peaceful contemplation, it merely “whispers” encouragement.
Incense has been used for centuries to perfume clothing. I store my winter scarves and gloves with my incense in a small Chinese leather-and-wood trunk. If I had the wherewithal to hire a perfumer to create a fragrance for me, I would smell just like my incense trunk.
Note: image via japanese-incense.