In Kyoto, Scents Are Meant to Be Experienced

There's more than one way to catch a scent.

Japan is often described as a place where the past meets the present, and Kyoto is no exception. Here, you’ll find many incense specialty shops—some as ancient as 300 years old—using innovative design and technology to give guests a unique aromatic experience. We list down two such places that are easily accessible from the subway.

Shoyeido Kunjukan
Karasuma Dori Nijo Agaru Higashigawa, Nakagyo District, Kyoto
Contact: +81-75-212-5590
Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
How to get there: It’s a 3-minute walk from the Marutamachi Subway Station.

Shoyeido Kunjukan
isn’t an ordinary museum. The facility is built by Shoyeido, an incense specialty shop that has been around for more than 300 years, and offers its guests innovative ways to experience scent. Imagine pulling a big white box over your head and getting the full range of notes from a scent or pushing pumps attached to pillars to get a whiff of another. The best part: Admission is free!

It might be a fun idea to have a photo here and let your friends wonder why you’re carrying a big box over your head.

The scent comes out from the trumpet heads as you squeeze the pump.

This large piece of byakudan (white sandalwood) is a typical incense tree.

Another way to check the scents is to gently squeeze and sniff through these silicon bottles.

The recently opened Shouju Gallery plays host to exhibits.

“We hope people can appreciate incense more casually and feel them as something close to themselves. Please ask the staff freely if you have any questions,” says Tsuji Akiko, manager of Kunjukan.

464 Myomanjimaecho, Teramachi Dori Sagaru, Nakagyo District, Kyoto
Contact: +81-75-231-0510
Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except on Wednesdays, Sundays, and Japanese holidays.
How to get there: It’s a 5-minute walk from the Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Subway Station.

Monkodokoro, there is an activity called monko-taiken that involves burning incense and experiencing traditional Japanese culture. Here, you can relieve all stress by calmly “listening” to scents. Since it is built by Kyukyodo, an establishment famous for its incenses and Japanese stationery, you can also purchase Kyukyodo’s popular postcards and a selection of incenses, washi products, and some Monkodokoro original items here.

Use your five senses and “listen” to the scent for 20 to 30 minutes.

This relaxing space is actually a renovated townhouse that was first built more than 90 years ago.


The Monko refreshments include Ippodo’s green tea and MOTOI macarons with Daitokuji natto soybeans.

From agarwood to eaglewood, you can choose the perfect scent for you.

Gamaguchi Purse (¥1,512)

Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Kansai Walker™ (10 January 2018)

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