your cart

Your cart is empty.

Oriental Mart

Don't have an account?

Create an account

General Articles

A Beginner’s Guide to Japanese Incense Sticks

13 November 2017

When it comes to burning incense, if you aren’t exactly familiar with it, it can be difficult to know where to start. However, we have some good news for you, as there is so much variety on the market now that you are sure to find something that you will love. We have put together this guide to help advise you on what you should buy, as well as an insight into the history.


Incense has been used for centuries in sacred ceremonies and in homes and is still just as popular today. However, you may be wondering how it actually arrived in Japan? Well, incense is believed to arrive when Buddhism and Buddhist monks first came to the country from China. Incense was and still is, an important aspect of Buddhism as it is still used in ceremonies and burials to purify the atmosphere. It is thought that incense has been used since Biblical times and also that it was originally created in Egypt. Egyptian pharaohs are certainly known to have used incense, and the Babylonians did too when praying and reading oracles.

Over the years, Japan seems to have adopted a wider use of incense and has become one of the most important world producers of incense. When it first came to Japan, it was made in China, so it had to be imported. However, as it grew in popularity, specialist companies in Japan began to make their own. Many of the best Japanese incense companies, such as Nippon Kodo, have been making incense, for 300 years or more, using high quality, traditional ingredients and ancient and modern techniques.

Types of Incense

There are three types of incense, and these are oriental incense sticks, cones and coils. The type you choose will depend on the type of burner or holder you have, the room you are burning it in and how long you want it to last. Incense sticks are usually long, thin and are renowned for burning steadily and evenly, which provides a mild fragrance. Incense cones provide more of an intense fragrance but tend to burn a lot faster than sticks, therefore they work better in larger rooms. Incense coils are designed to burn a lot slower, so you can receive a steady fragrance over a period of time.

How to Use Incense

Using incense is incredibly easy, but you will need an incense holder, plate or burner to stand it in and catch the ash. All you need to do is light the tip of the stick, coil and cone and once it is lit just blow out the flame. This will produce a gentle wisp of smoke and will release the aroma. The stick, cone or coil should then be placed in the incense holder or burner and left to fragrance the room of your choice. One stick, cone or coil can produce a quite a lot of ash, so you will need to empty this out of the burner, or the holder after it has finished burning.

Incense is used throughout the world for numerous reasons and the various different types of incense, such as sticks and cones, are popular for adding a subtle aroma to your home, or it can be burnt to try and block out lingering cooking smells.

One of the biggest benefits of Japanese incense is that they’ve perfected the art of not making it too smoky and therefore it’s more appealing to a wider range of people. As there are many different scents, which is your favourite to burn? Let us know using our social media channels!

This Site Uses Cookies

We and our advertising partners use cookies on this site and around the web to improve your website experience and provide you with personalised advertising from this site and other advertisers. By clicking allow, you accept the placement and use of these cookies for these purposes. Learn More