In this exclusive interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with Koumi Kisaragi, A passionate founder and director of the Japan Incense Essence Association. Koumi embarked on a journey to spread the spirit of Japan through the ancient art of incense and its fragrance. From her personal story to her vision for the future, Koumi shares her insights and experiences in this captivating conversation.
Koumi Kisaragi, born in Tokyo in 1970, defied conventional expectations by opting to work at a trading company instead of pursuing a university education. During her tenure, she developed a keen interest in makeup and went on to become a bridal makeup artist. Over the years, she expanded her expertise to include fashion shows and magazine shoots. However, after a fourteen-year career, Koumi embarked on a new chapter of her life, driven by a desire for exploration and self-discovery.
The Passion for Incense
The roots of incense in Japan can be traced back to the Asuka period, when it was introduced along with Buddhism. Today, incense serves not only religious purposes but also as a hobby and form of therapy. Koumi’s passion lies in introducing people to the world of natural incense, which has a profound impact on the mind and body. Through workshops and lectures, she endeavours to share the art of incense-making and its healing properties. Koumi believes that by nurturing a community of incense enthusiasts, Japanese culture and the spirit of harmony can be spread worldwide, contributing to global peace.
Q: Thank you for joining us! Can you share the story behind your initiative?
A: Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, I pondered the importance of life and the future of our planet. In that contemplation, I received a revelation about the power of incense. Initially, I didn’t fully understand what incense could accomplish. However, through research, I discovered the profound traditions of “Kodo” and “Koshi” in Japan. Guided by these ancient practices, I applied myself to the Essence of Incense system, with the aim of spreading the spirit of Japan and fostering harmony on a global scale.
Q: What were the significant challenges you faced during this initiative, especially considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: In Japan, incense has often been perceived as a formal and ceremonial element, rather than a casual enjoyment like aromatherapy. Overcoming this perception has been an ongoing challenge. However, the recent surge in interest towards Japanese culture has led to a growing curiosity about incense. Despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic, we adapted by creating online courses to support our community. While the demand for in-person experiences remains, we implemented necessary safety measures such as masks, disinfection, ventilation, and small group sizes.
Q: How do you believe your initiative will make a significant difference in people’s lives?
A: Natural incense and the process of making incense have a profound impact on people’s well-being and awareness. The olfactory sense directly affects the brain and can bring about healing on a deeper level. By engaging with incense and its scents, individuals can experience therapeutic benefits for their mind, body, and soul. Studies have even shown that certain frequencies produced during the experience of incense have a positive effect on our well-being. Our goal is to provide people with a transformative and enlightening journey through the world of incense.
Q: What are your future plans and goals for your endeavours?
A: Fragrance culture has existed for thousands of years, varying across different countries and cultures. I aim to introduce the unique scents of Japan, allowing more people around the world to experience the deep healing they offer. Through Japanese incense and techniques, I strive to spread the essence of Japanese spirit and culture globally. Additionally, I envision training and cultivating incense teachers overseas, creating a network of individuals who can contribute to world peace through the power of incense.
Koumi Kisaragi’s dedication to spreading the spirit of Japanese culture and harmony through the essence of incense-making is truly inspiring. Through her initiative, the Japan Incense Essence Association, Koumi aims to introduce the transformative power of incense to people worldwide. By delving into the ancient traditions and therapeutic aspects of incense, Koumi aspires to create a community of incense enthusiasts who will contribute to world peace and well-being.