Miyako, a 2005 limited edition perfume from Japanese brand Annayake, is one of those things that makes one grateful for the internet. I wouldn't have heard about it otherwise (Annayke fragrance, makeup, and skincare products aren't sold in the US officially, though some online sellers have the occasional item), and buying it long after it was sold out would have been utterly impossible. But for the longest time there was a buzz about this unicorn, a Japanese incense perfume. eBay was my friend, and a pristine bottle in its beautiful special edition box found its way to me.
When thinking about Japanese incense fragrance one immediately remembers Kyoto from CDG Incense Series. Miyako may be a distant cousin, but it's much sweeter and a lot more ambery than the smoky-yet-chilly Kyoto. As a matter of fact, while Miyako is labeled a floral incense, my skin and nose declare it an incensy amber. Not that there's anything wrong with it...
The opening of Miyako is wonderfully spicy. It's almost Christmasy and perhaps not very Japanese, but a) who cares? and, b) it quickly flows into the core of what Annayake aimed for: a golden incense. Miyako becomes sweeter as it warms on skin. The incense and myrrh seem bolder outdoors in the cold air (they were not all that prominent during the summer), while heated skin brings out a very vanillic dry-down. Some days Miyako feels like a sheer version of Ambre Sultan, other times the incense and wood have the upper hand over the benzoin-vanilla. In any case, Miyako is a soft, comforting kind of incense. Is it all that special? Probably not, but it is a lovely and wearable variation on a beloved theme.
Notes: cardamom, cinnamon, frankincense, Hinoki wood, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, patchouli, cedar, sandalwood, musk, wild rose, benzoin, myrrh, amber.
Image: A 1911 poster, advertising incense, by Kitano Tsunetomi (1880-1947), Japanese wood block carver, printmaker and painter.