Independent fragrance brand Gallivant recently launched Tokyo, a "zingy, spicy, woody fragrance" that's a tribute to kōdō, the Japanese "way of incense." Tokyo's notes include yuzu, bergamot, black pepper, cardamom and wasabi; hinoki, cedarwood, incense, iris, rose and nutmeg; and amber, sandalwood, vetiver and patchouli. It was developed for Gallivant by perfumer Nicholas Bonneville.
I've had luck trying Gallivant's fragrances in the past, with Brooklyn and Amsterdam becoming my personal favorites from the line. Even when something from Gallivant doesn't match my personal taste, I can appreciate its smart sensibility. Tokyo fits the Gallivant house style: it's gender-neutral, appropriate for a variety of occasions, and accented with an intriguing blend of spices.
Tokyo begins with some citrus and pepper before it heads into the incense zone, and its incense core is still sharp and aromatic, even a little green, rather than smoky or vanillic. This phase reminds me of elemi (although that's not officially listed as one of the notes) and I can also recognize the hinoki, which was a note I first encountered in Six Scents #087. This pleasantly nose-tingling combination persists for a while. Tokyo's dry down slowly turns woodier with its notes of cedar and sandalwood, but never quite loses its piquant edge or its traces of pepper and cardamom.
When I was wearing Tokyo, I often thought I was smelling something or someone near me, rather than my own skin — this scent seemed to diffuse in an interesting way. It had above-average longevity on me and developed smoothly.
I don't wear many incense-y fragrances, and I'm hoping to share the rest of my Tokyo sample with incense-expert Kevin in order to get his reaction — but I enjoyed trying this one on a few days of transitional summer-to-fall weather, when many of my usual fragrances didn't feel quite right. If contemporary incense perfumes are your particular thing, you may want to explore Tokyo.