“So what exactly are those patterns on the Genjiko design?” I’ve been getting this question quite frequently so here is a brief explanation of our design and some information about those patterns.
Genjiko is an old game of enjoying incense. Our design uses all 54 of the Genji-mon geometrical design patterns which originally symbolized the combinations of the fragrances in the game. When working on this, Seiji Ohta’s concept was to make the pattern look like smoke from burning incense. This was also a good reason to print it a light gray.
Here’s a bit more history behind the Genjiko.
According to an article I found, there are few people in Japan who have a thorough undertanding of the Japanese incense ceremony, Kodo, while at the same time are very familiar with the Genji-mon (Genji Crests) that were assigned to the Chapters of “The Tale of the Genji” by early Incense Masters for the purpose of playing the incense game “Genji-ko.” Genji-ko is one of several “Incense Games.” The Genji-mon patterns began showing up on the ukiyoe woodblock prints of the Edo period (1603-1867) and many people began to associate the Genji-mon with the original Genji chapters instead of Kodo.
The idea of all of these incense games is to enjoy the process of listening to each fragrant wood. These are not contests but simply methods for enjoying the fragrances and reawakening our sense of smell. There are no winners or losers in Kodo, just the simple elegance of enjoying fine incense.