Mindfulness - Listening, The Japanese Way of Enjoying Incense

Event Date:
January 19th, 2020 (Sunday)
Event Time:
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Must be purchased in advance. Not available same day.
Attendees receive 15% off in-store purchases on the day of the event.


Payment is required to guarantee your space in the class.

There are many ways to enjoy incense, the most common being burning incense sticks and cones. In Japan, they also enjoy incense this way, but there is a much older art form of incense called Koh-do. It uses incense wood in its purest form, warmed over a live coal buried in ash, and protected from burning with a mica plate. Koh-do developed in the 13th century Japan,and evolved in close connection with Japanese literary pursuits.

In similar fashion to tea ceremonies, koh-dō, the incense ceremony is a refined art form that follows complex observances and ancient etiquette regarding preparation and participation. There are incense schools and traditions passed down for generations. Instructors must have a thorough knowledge of Japanese literature and fine calligraphy handwriting for this ceremony. There are many incense ceremony games and forms with which to participate in Koh-do.

In this workshop we will be doing monko, or listening to incense and writing poetry. It is a way of enjoying Japanese incense that does not require participants to know elaborate etiquette, history or literature. The incense burner is prepared with ash, a live coal and mica plate and individuals “listen” to the incense. Instead of smelling the incense, we say listening to the incense. As perfumers say there are top notes, bass notes and middle notes to the incense. There is a whole symphony of fragrance listen to. We don't just smell the incense in our nose, but listen to the incense with our whole being. In a meditative atmosphere, all of our senses can be opened up to write what comes to mind inspired by the incense.


Marjorie Yap has more than 35 years experience with chado, the Way of Japanese Tea Ceremony. She studied in Kyoto, Japan at the Urasenke headquarters and received her teaching credentials and tea artistic name, Soya, from the 16th generation Urasenke Grand Tea Master. She has performed Tea Ceremony at the Portland Japanese Garden and numerous public and private events both in the U.S. and in Japan. She has assisted teaching the Chado and Japanese Aesthetics course at the University of Washington, and was guest lecturer at Portland Community College in Tea Ceramics and Tea Ceremony and Theater at Sarah Lawrence College. Visit Issoan Tea for more information.

Due to limited seating, cancellations require at least 24 hours notice before the start of the event in order to be considered for a refund.