Traditional Japanese Classifications of Aloeswood used for Kodo
Rikkoku: literal translation is the "Six Countries of Agarwood"
A gentle and dignified smell with a touch of bitterness. The fragrance is like
an aristocrat in its elegance and gracefulness.
A sharp and pungent smell similar to sandalwood. Its smell is generally bitter,
and reminds one of a warrior.
Smells light and enticing, changing like the mood of a woman with bitter
feelings. [Obviously the connoisseurs of this day were men!] None of the five
qualities (tastes) are easily detectable. The fragrance is of good quality if it
Mostly sweet. The presence of sticky oil on a mica piece is often a sign that
the fragrance is Manaban. The smell is coarse and unrefined, just like that of a
Sour at the beginning and end. Sometimes mistaken for Kyara, it has something,
distasteful and ill-bred about it, like a servant disguised as a noble person.
Cool and sour. Good-quality Sasora is mistaken for kyara, especially when it
first begins to burn. Sometimes it is so light and faint that one may think the
smell has disappeared. It reminds one of a monk.
The five qualities (tastes) used to classify agarwood aromas:
Sweet -- Resembles the smell of honey or concentrated sugar
Sour -- Resembles the smell of plums or other acidic foods
Hot -- Resembles the smell of red peppers when put in a fire
Salty -- Resembles the smell of a towel after wiping perspiration from
the brow, or the lingering smell of ocean water when seaweed is dried on a
Bitter -- Resembles the smell of bitter herbal medicine when it is
mixed or boiled
"The Book of Incense," written by Kiyoko Morita.