Incense Collectors

There has been a huge increase in the popularity of incense collecting. This is partly due to a rise in the amount of types of incense available.

With incense, and especially the Japanese varieties, it is not at all surprising that people want to collect these beautifully crafted scents, which often come with colorful boxes with delightful names and designs. They look exotic and appealing - each box is unique.

It’s not just because of the aesthetic qualities that people collect incense. It’s all about their aromas! What could be better than waking up in the morning and selecting the perfect scent to burn, depending on the mood you are in? We find selecting the perfect incense for a particular moment a very relaxing and enjoyable process.

We decided to catch up with a couple of well-known incense collectors and talk to them about their collections and the reasons behind them.

Incense Rock Stars

Louis Gale (Incense Corner)


Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background? 

"I have been collecting and burning incense for 2 years now. I was attracted to it through looking into Buddhism and the meditative side of it. When I then researched incense and its roots within the streetwear industry I was hooked. It combined my love for streetwear and peaceful way of life.

I’ve been collecting incense for two years now. Unlike most people I do regard myself as a collector. The reason for this is most people would usually buy a box at a time, and then once they have burnt through their supply they would then move onto their next purchase. Whereas I like to build a large selection. I love to have lots of varieties of incense so depending on my mood I always have something to hand. I also love the visual aspect of having a large collection, from the beautiful Japanese packaging to quite simply - showing off (As primitive as that sounds!). I am very proud of my collection and can't wait to keep adding to it."

What are some of your favorite types of incense?

"My favorite types of incense scent wise is definitely the earthy, musky and woody scents. I love a nice complex scent that gets me thinking and wondering what the ingredients are.

My favorite types of incense in terms of region would definitely be Japanese incense. Both traditional such as Nippon Kodo, Shoyeido, etc."

When it comes to burning incense, what types of holders do you prefer?

"When it comes to holders my preference is definitely a bowl type burner. I love the look of them but more importantly i love the ease of use and lack of cleaning up needed. They are a must in everyone's collection in my opinion."

Why do you think people like yourselves like to collect incense as opposed to just burning it?

"I think people are starting to collect incense more often than burning it now because of the philosophy taken from the sneaker and streetwear scene where items are cherished and often not worn or in this case - burnt. I do burn a lot of my incense and none of it is exempt from getting the burn treatment, i just make sure I savor every moment and make it last!

My collection is definitely going to keep growing. I look forward to adding a lot more traditional Japanese incense from the likes of Nippon Kodo and Baieido as its been over a year since I've expanded that side."

What are your top five types/scents of incense? 

"My top 5 incense would be:

NK Jinkoh Seiun.
NK Koju 1575 Moegi.
NK Ka Fuh Aqua.
Baiedo Bikou Kobunboku.
Baiedo Original Kobunboku."

How often do you burn incense?

"If I am working I will burn incense at least two or three times in the evening and usually once before work. If I am on a day off I will burn between five and ten sticks at least. I love to burn and I find it complements whatever I am doing. If I am on the computer I will pick nice relaxing scents usually from Nippon Kodo. Whereas if I am on the Xbox I will be burning a far more smokier type that is great to get in the zone."

If you were stuck on a desert island and you could choose two types of Nippon Kodo incense to burn in your "hut" which would they be?

Hmm....for me it would have to be Jinkoh Seiun and Koju 1575 Moegimoegi. The Jinkoh Seiun offers a lovely premium woody burn, which is great for evenings and is my favorite palette of scents. Where as the Moegi from the Koju 1575 offers lovely creamy scents which is far different from the Jinkoh Seiun to offer some variety."


Where do you see your incense collections expanding to in the future?

"My collection is definitely going to keep growing. I look forward to adding a lot more traditional Japanese incense from the likes of Nippon Kodo and Baiedo as its been over a year since I've expanded that side."

I know you help run the popular group called "incense corner". Could you tell me a little bit about the group and why you think it’s popular?

"Yes I proudly run Incense Corner and have been doing so for the past 8 months. Incense Corner is first and foremost a community dedicated to all things incense. We have an absolutely amazing collection of members ranging from first timers to people that have been burning their whole lives. The fantastic thing is everyone is treated equally and we are always on hand to assist and support people with their questions.

It’s a great place for posting photos and reviews etc. We also hold competitions and import incense from overseas that you wouldn't be able to get here in Europe. Incense Corner also has a Blog and IG. So lots of variety"

Kyle Birkett

Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background?

"My name is Kyle and I’m a software engineer. Apart from collecting incense I enjoy photography, keeping fit, cooking and travelling.  I’m also a lover of fashion, particularly streetwear and this has tied in quite well with my love of incense."

How long have you been collecting incense and what interests you about incense?

"I’ve been collecting incense for around 2 or 3 years. I’ve always enjoyed burning incense, and burnt a lot as a teenager, but it’s only recently that I’ve taken a bit more of an interest in the wider market and have invested a lot more time in building up a collection.  What interests me about incense is the diversity of it.  From cheap £1.00 packs of Indian incense from the local market, to packs of premium Japanese sticks worth hundreds of pounds. Whatever your style or budget, there’s something for you.  From sweet, to musky, from sticks to cones, from traditional to modern, the world of incense is something that is vast, diverse and continually growing."


Could you tell me about your incense collection and describe some of the types, and brands in your collection?

"God, I don’t even know where to start.  Ok, so my collection consists of incense from as far West as California, USA to as far East as Tokyo, Japan, and everywhere in between.  I have quite a large collection of Japanese incense. This isn’t for any particular reason other than the Japanese market seems to be the biggest.

I love the traditional Japanese incense, I find them to be quite mellow and perfect for when I’m pottering around the house.  They tend to have a relatively short burn time, so they’re great for when I’m preparing breakfast in the morning. I also have a quite a good collection of sticks from the USA including some great scents from brands such as Juniper Ridge, Wild Berry and Pain’s. And of course, I have a big selection of the classic Satya incense. The classic Nag Champa scent is probably in the collection of every incense lover, right?"

What are some of your favorite types of incense?

"It all depends on my mood and what I’m doing. I have recently started burning before work and I typically go for something from Nippon Kodo’s Morning Star range. I love the variety (Vanilla, green Tea, Pine, Cinnamon etc) and the short burn time is perfect. It’s a great start to the day. So whatever I’m doing, whether that be work, watching a movie or listening to some music, there’ll be a stick in my collection ready to burn.

Weather is also a big factor for me.  During the colder months, I prefer musky, smoky scents.  Something from Juniper Ridge’s campfire incense range is perfect for a cold night in, whereas during the summer, I’ll typically opt for something a little ‘brighter’, something floral or fruity maybe. But overall, I’d say my favorite type of incense is something that is fresh and clean.

When it comes to burning incense, what types of holders do you prefer?

"When it comes to holders, I leave my prejudice at the door haha.  I have a variety of holders for different occasions. I have a wooden holder that my mum gave me when I was a teenager and I’m pretty sure it cost about 50p, and I have some ceramic incense chambers that cost me a considerable amount. Again, it’s all about what I’m up to.  If I have friends coming over or I have a bit more time to sit down and really enjoy it, then I’ll go for something special, and it doesn’t get any more special than one of my Neighbourhood Incense Chambers. They are fantastic.  They’re made from Chinese Kaolin clay and are all hand crafted. They take inspiration from ceramic imports that Japan used to receive during World War II and they really are beautiful pieces of art.  I also have a few that are for display purposes only.  Ones that I know I’ll never get my hands on again."

Why do you think people like yourselves like to collect incense as opposed to just burning it?

"I think it’s like any collection really, you start small, perhaps burning just to freshen up a room, but once you have more exposure to it, do a little research and realize how much you enjoy it, it slowly turns into a hobby. Some people may think having a large collection of incense is a little strange, but is it really any stranger than a collection of stamps, or baseball cards? I don’t think so. People like to collect things, it’s in our nature and collecting incense is up there for a lot of people.

I think a lot of people have some connection with incense that stems deeper than just burning it for the smell.  For me, it goes back to my childhood. My mum always burnt it in the house and that rubbed off on me, so when I moved out of home into my own place, burning an incense stick gave me good memories of being growing up."

If you were stuck on a desert island and you could choose 2 types of Nippon Kodo incense to burn in your hut which would they be?

"That’s a tough one.  Well, if I were on a desert island, I’d be near the sea, so I’d want something that would reflect that, so my first choice would be Mainichi-Koh ‘Aqua’ from their Quality Range.  It’s a fantastic scent, quite citrusy with strong hints of Jasmine.  Perfect for burning whilst sat on the porch of a beach hut. My second choice would be ‘Kyoto’ from their Koh-Do range.  I really love this scent.  It’s quite deep and very musky with a real strong sandalwood base.  I love sandalwood, I think it’s one the best smelling scents, so a good quality sandalwood would be essential for me. God, I wish I was on a desert island now with a beer."

What are your top 5 types/scents of incense?

"In no particular order – Nippon Kodo Morning Star – Amber, Juniper Ridge – White Sage, Juniper Ridge – Desert Pinion, Satya – Nag Champa Gold and Shoyeido – Sandalwood."

How often do you burn incense?

"Nearly everyday of the week I’d say.  I’d usually burn a stick in my office at work during the day and then a stick or 2 in the evening, however I’ve started burning a stick in the morning before I go to work. I find it really relaxes me and sets me up for the day ahead."  

I know you also help run the popular group called "incense corner". Could you tell me a little bit about the group and why you think it’s popular?

"We’re just a group of cool, chilled out, friendly people with one thing in common – a love of incense.  Nobody is here to pass judgement, whether you have 5 packs of 50 pence incense sticks in your collection or a vault full of decades rare and old incense worth thousands, it doesn’t matter, because we’re all here for the same reason.  All the members in the group are super friendly and super helpful.

I’ve discovered a lot of new brands through the help of people in the community, have been given freebies and have made some great friends. It really is a great place to go, whether you’re after some advice, recommendations, photos or just want to tell people about your latest purchase, everyone is here to enjoy themselves. That’s why the group is so popular, and I can only see it getting bigger and branching further out.  We have a lot of exciting things planned, so watch this space…"

For our current range of Japanese incense and high-grade incense, checkout:

May 29, 2017 by Harry J.
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