incense….makes sense


I first got into incense when I visited the store of  a friend of my Aunt in Japan. Kuumba….may sound like the name of Simba’s long lost brother but in fact it’s a well established incense label that was started in Tokyo thirteen years ago by a couple of Japanese Rastas. Their store is a forum for contemporary Japanese art, reggae/dub music but most importantly smell. Smell is their calling and their being.

I am well aware that incense has a terrible rep amongst certain circles for being cliched hippy shit that smells appalling. Since visiting Kuumba I have become a great believer in incense and feel that these scented sticks of joy have been completely misunderstood. If I had my own way, the whole world would be a great smelling place.  I have however, had many a friend (it’s usually boys) flee from my room gasping for air as a result of my incense burning habit. And so I shall attempt to aid Kuumba on their scented crusade and explain why it is that everyone should burn incense….


1) Incense does not have to be cliched and hippy.

Of course it can be. If I were to grow my arm pit hair and skip around fields on acid in nothing but daisy chains with burning incense wands in my hands then YES it would indeed be embarrassingly cliched and very hippy.

You need to approach incense with an open mind. Kuumba for example provides incense with a much needed  revised image. With music playing, art aligning their walls, their incense factory in store, and chairs to hang out in, Kuumba provides customers with a community and an experience. Plus these boys really know their scents and name them superbly:  Mystical Mist and Sky Juice are two of my favorites.  For them the burning of incense is part of their Rastafarian philosophy and their various scents are a tangible and purchasable extension of this .

2)Incense can smell bad. Incense can smell good.

What is important here is the stick itself. As with anything cheap and shit, cheap and shit incense will undoubtedly smell cheap and shit. So splash out. I’m not saying spend a fortune just spend a little bit more and find out about scents before buying them. Incense should be approached in a similar way to herbal teas. Different smells have different properties and react differently with the senses of individuals. Different smells can suit different moods and different times of day…If in doubt look to their names.

For a morning incense expereince try  Good Day or Happy to Be

For a night time incense experience try Dream Maker

For a chilled incense experience try Ice

and for a harder hit…. Chronic

3) Contrary to the beliefs of sceptics incense can be very relaxing and atmospheric

Watching smoke rising is very sensual. Smokey rooms brimming with nasty smelling smoke are admittedly rank however, rooms filled lightly with sweet smelling smoke can be incredibly calming and atmospheric. It’s all about incense placement. The  Japanese place their incense in small holders on the floor either by the entrance to or in the corner of a room. This gives the smoke a chance to rise and it’s scent a chance to diffuse. Prime incense time is actually five minutes after the stick has burnt out so if you have been a hater prior to this, try fleeing the room upon burning. Return ten minutes later and it will be glorious.

Romantic Scents: Take It Off, Between the Sheets, or Nude.

4) Incense isn’t just for girls, it can in fact be very manly

It is a truth universally known that boys are prone to smelling bad. The Kuumba boys entered into the incense business because their dreads smelt bad and no one would hire them due to their bad smell and unruly appearance.  As a result their scents can be very masculine.

Try Kuumba’s Dub, Dub Master, Malcom X, Player’s Club, Rasta Man and Pimpin Ain’t Easy….. if you don’t believe me.


I hope that I have been able to persuade some of you to consider incense in another light. I have tried to aid the Kuumba Rastas in their quest to make the world a better smelling and more peaceful place . In an attempt at sealing the deal, Ill leave you with the wise words of Kuumba’s founder:

We are tour guides who introduce people to the world of incense, we are the Samurai still living. We would travel forever until we feel uncomfortable. There are good days and bad days, but every day is special. One thing you should not forget is that love is the best spice. Nothing beats that.

Kumba scents are available in The Hideout

One response to “incense….makes sense

  1. It’s getting better all the time.

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