Expert reveals Japan favours traditional incense in modern day fragrances

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Expert reveals Japan favours traditional incense in modern day fragrances

Related tags Perfume

Japanese incense, used in traditional ceremonies is making its way into modern day fragrances as consumers become more receptive to niche scents, according to our expert on the ground, Hiro Nakayama. 

The Japanese are not brought up wearing fragrances but are raised surrounded by scents like incense - not directly applied on the skin, but burned into the atmosphere which naturally goes onto the skin, clothes and hair, Nakayama tells

When we think of fragrance, many of us think of perfume, however the history of perfume does not go as far back as incense... 

According to the founder of 'Project Felicia', a firm that helps Western fragrance brands break into Asia; Japanese incense dates back to the sixth century around the time of Buddhism and further expanded into the mass market during 16-19th century.

2015 seen the return of demand for incense based scents, which are falling under the home fragrance and personal care sector as incense leaves trails of its scent on the clothes and hair - acting as a sort of 'natural' fragrance for some in the place of brand name perfumes.

Where home fragrance meets personal scent..


Hiro reports that the powdery ingredients used in incense are found in liquid form in perfumes but the formulations offer a different sentiment despite them being comprised of the same materials.

"Take patchouli for example - the dried and powdered version actually smells less bitter than the essential oil version used in perfume​," she gives by way of example.

The 'scent' ranges from classic to modern to pure (natural), and traditional to new waves: floral with lavender, rose and orchid; fruity with orange and strawberry, and gourmand such as coffee and green tea.

In fact, French perfumer, Pierre Bernard of OSMOART discovered the demand for this scent and collaborated with a Japanese incense manufacture in 2013 to develop a carrot-scented incense to go with his OUD perfume.

Another independent perfumer in Japan also creates a line of perfume resonating with Japanese spirits and influenced by traditional Japanese arts including KODO -Japanese incense ceremony.

"Other trends in this area includes hair mist, and air freshener for clothes, similar to P&G’s Febreze but upgraded versions, suggest the enjoyment of fragrance from outside in,​" Hiro informs this publication.

Project Felicia is currently developing experiential scent programs to help consumers in Asia find their signature scent from a wide range of fragrance products.

Related topics Market Trends East Asia Fragrance

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more


Beauty 4.0 Podcast