Nara, a small, tranquil Japanese town, is home to numerous magnificent temples and shrines and a park famous for its freely roaming deer. The charming, century-old Nara Hotel, a favorite of dignitaries, offers a welcome haven of repose: We lose ourselves with delight in the city’s winding alleys. In the air floats an exquisite fragrance of sandalwood, its warm, comforting scent enriched by a hint of sweet and sensual jasmine.
The best incense in the world is found on the island of Awaji, due to its favorable climate. For more than a thousand years it has been made here by the Koh-shis or Masters of Aromas, a tradition passed down from father to son. They alone perfectly master the four stages of production: the dosage of exclusively natural materials, precious woods, herbs, plants, vegetable resins, and perfume; the kneading of the dough, pressed and worked for a long time, then left to stand for two weeks to soak up the fragrance; the cutting of the dough, rolled into long, narrow ribbons, to the desired size; then drying in the west wind for three days before bundling the sticks. Box of 125 sticks.