Bow To The East: Oriental Aromatherapy

Chemworld_Oriental Aromatherapy

In perfume making, oriental is one of the fragrance families included by Michael Edwards in the fragrance wheel. It is no wonder as the orient has had a strong history of the influence of scents, specifically aromatherapy. We have written down for you two of the most influential oriental countries to give you a little background on the process and history of aromatherapy in the east.



Many may not know it but in Japan, they have a special name for Aromatherapy: Kodo. It translates to “way of the fragrance”. It is one of the three Classical Arts of Refinement every Japanese woman must learn. The other two being Kado or The Art of flower arrangement and Chado or The Art of Tea (including the different ceremonies involved). Among the three arts, it is Chado that is best known around the world, especially in the western hemisphere. Kado, on the other hand, is the least known among the three arts outside Japan.

Japanese Incense Ceremony

During Kodo, a mica plate is placed on top of burning coals. A piece of fragrant wood or the incense is then put on top of the plate. You do not just smell the fragrance, but also “listen” to it with an open heart and soul.

Dating back to the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), the Ten Virtues of Kō was formulated. These are:

  1. Sharpens the senses
  2. Cleans both your mind and body
  3. Clears away any mental or spiritual pollutants” (kegare)
  4. Boost your alertness
  5. Takes away any loneliness
  6. Gives you a sense of peace despite being under severe stress
  7. Will never be overpowering, even in large amounts
  8. Provides satisfaction, even when used in small amounts
  9. Does not decompose over time
  10. Does not cause damage, even if used on a daily basis

During the reign of the Shogun (hereditary military governor) Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1443-1490), had a strong appreciation for the art of Listening (the other name for Kodo). He loved it so much he decided to appoint one of the leading experts, Sanjonishi Sanetaka, to compile and write a book about it. Today, Sanjonishi is regarded by many as the father of Kodo. Together they created a classification system of the scents called rikkoku gomi, which translates to “Six Countries, Five Scents.” These are kyara (bitter), rakoku (sweet), manaka (scentless), manaban (salty), sasora (hot) and sumotara (sour).



It is practically impossible to enter a Chinese temple without noticing the sticks of incense waiting to be picked up and burned. In fact, upon entering the temple it is one of the first things you would look for as the majority knows that it is a tradition to burn an incense stick when you visit the temple, accompanied with a sniff of its fragrant scent. But did you know that in China fragrance is considered medicinal as well?

Chinese Incense Ceremony

Chinese medicine happens to be one of the most potent and respected forms of remedies known to man. One of the things done is aromatherapy, wherein different essential oils are mixed together depending on your illness then burned. It is often administered to children as it is non-toxic and they respond quickly to this remedy.

There is a strong belief in the balance of life, thus the Qi, Yin and Yang. It is believed that aromatherapy heals not only the physical problems but those of the spirit as well, for many think that the two are connected. There is also a strong belief in the elements namely water, fire, metal, and earth. Some herbs may placate while others may enliven. For example, bergamot is under the wood element and has a cool and dry energy. It smoothens your Qi flow as well as harmonizing your liver’s Qi. Another is Marjoram, an earth and fire herb with a slightly warm and dry energy. It pushes your Qi, tonifies your spleen’s yang, removes moisture and calms down the heart.

Apple CInnamon

Choose your scents carefully and for sure your soul, mind and body will soon be cleared of any problems. Try out the Ocean Breeze or Apple Cinnamon essential oils with the POREX E-Reed sticks which you can find in Chemworld Fragrance Factory and have a Zen moment on us!

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