Welcome to the first part in our Kyoto Summer Journey series. Today’s topic is the Japanese incense mosquito coil or, katori senkō .
Since the 19th century, incense coils have been fixtures in homes and on the porches of Kyoto during summertime. Just seeing one will bring to mind memories for most Japanese and for many, nothing says summer like the scent of a lit coil burning in the summer air. Not only are summer incense coils aesthetically pleasing, but they contain ingredients that keeps summer pests away.
Many homes in Kyoto are in the traditional Japanese style. That means no screens on the windows or air conditioning. Porches are used to stay cool and time is spent relaxing in the shade of rice paper screen partitioned rooms. The Japanese incense coil is something you will always find here and it wouldn’t be summer without them.
These coils are made from a member of the aster family, Tanacetum cinerariifolium, which is often mistaken for white daisy. Many companies now use a synthetic version of this main ingredient. The fragrance of the coils is similar to incense that you would find in a Buddhist temple but not as subtle.
Another symbol of summer in Japan, especially Kyoto, is the incense burning pig. This adorable ceramic pig is hollow. An incense coil inside and the smoke comes out of the front. Just seeing one of these pigs is enough to bring to mind the hum of cicadas, the feel of a cold glass of tea in hand, and the soothing sound of furin (Japanese wind chimes).
When I first started planning this summer’s limited edition collection, Kyoto Summer, I loved the idea of a natural home fragrance that smelled beautiful and would keep away summer pests. I also wanted it to be smoke-free. This is the inspiration behind the new Kyoto Summer Home Essence. A special blend that aids in relaxation and will refresh you from summer heat, the blend of 100% natural essential oils contains two ingredients that are strong insect repellents. Use this home essence with any essential oil diffuser or burner. For smaller spaces you can place a few drops in a small bowl of salt and place in bathrooms, on desks, or nightstands.
I am so excited for you to join me this summer as we journey through Kyoto and explore its many summertime traditions. More coming soon.