Awaji Island: Incense making

Hey, everyone!  Liz here.  I hope you enjoyed the New Year festivities!

To get over my holiday writing slump, I’m going to post a series of articles featuring Awaji Island! Awaji is a long, narrow island that stretches between Hyogo Prefecture and Shikoku. It is one of the six main regions of Hyogo and has cultural and natural features a little bit different from what you might see on the mainland. There’s lots to do!

One of my favorite things I’ve done on Awaji is participate in an incense-making workshop. Awaji is famous for incense, and we visited a real-live incense factory to learn from the masters.

At Kunjudo, you can create whimsically-shaped incense pieces with the scent of your choice, from the traditional spicy scent that suffuses Buddhist temples to rose, lavender, and other flowery fragrances. I chose yuzu, a Japanese winter citrus fruit.

Here we are, hard at work.

First, the ingredients are ground up with a mortar and pestle.

Then, the incense is rolled out…

You can choose to mold your incense into a traditional Japanese conical shape using an incense press, or…

You can cut them into fanciful shapes with cookie cutters!

That’s the end of the process! It was much easier than I thought. When you take your incense home, let it air out to dry and then burn it in a small ceramic dish.

After we finished our project, we got a chance to sneak into the factory and watch incense being produced.

It’s ground up in a giant machine and then pushed though a press to create thin strings, just like spaghetti! The strings are cut into a uniform length and packaged into boxes for sale throughout Japan.

I had a great time making my own incense, and I think this would be a great activity for groups or families. Plus, you get to bring back something that you can enjoy at home for a long time to come.

Kunjudo
Hours: 10 AM – 4 PM
Address: 1255-1 Taga, Awaji-shi, Hyogo 656-1521
Telephone: 0799-85-1301
Fax: 0799-85-2262
E-mail: kobe@kunjudo.co.jp
Website: http://www.kunjudo.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

How To Get There

Kunjudo
From Sannomiya: Take a bus from the Shinki Bus Terminal (east of the East Exit of JR Sannomiya) to Gunke bus station. The factory is a five-minute walk from the station.

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