Water wheel at the incense factory in Ishioka.

Suisha Senkou 水車線香

Suisha Senkou is the brand name of the incense made at the small family-run Komamura Seimeido factory deep in the countryside outside of Ishioka, Ibaraki Prefecture. Cedar leaf incense is the main product of the facility though other types of incense are manufactured as well.

Suisha Senkou translates to "waterwheel incense" and indeed, an ancient watermill plays an important part in the production process.

Located at the foot of Mount Tsukuba, the Komamura Seimeido is surrounded by forests and rice paddies. A very quiet area in central Ibaraki. Not really that remote from Tokyo (you can easily go there on a day trip from the city), but far away enough to be able to stroll through the rice paddies and seeing nothing but an open sky above the landscape. No high-voltage powerlines in view at all.

Right behind the small Komamura Seimeido family farm house compound, a clear little mountain stream flows by. Coming down from Mount Tsukuba, the stream flows at a pretty good speed.

That mountain stream powers an ancient waterwheel which in turn powers the mill that slowly but steadily pounds the cedar leaves used as the base of the incense sticks. The slow, water-driven pounding process brings out the full aroma of the leaves.

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