Are you looking for a meaningful activity to do on Awaji-shima but you are not that into agriculture or sports? Do not worry, because Awaji-shima offers you more than that! It might not be largely known but Awaji has a reputation for producing the best incense in Japan, and Kunjudo is one of Awaji’s incense factories.
These days, there are several incense factories on the island that are responsible for producing incense for the rest of the nation and at the same time exporting to many other countries in Europe and Asia. But the wonderful thing about visiting an incense factory is that some of them also provide workshops in which you get to see the making process and make your own incense! Kunjudo is one of these incense factories and it has been around since 1893.
Humbly located in a peaceful town called Taga, Kunjudo is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Sunday (except for a few holidays — usually national holidays) without fail. Entering the factory, the first thing you do is watch a video about the history and variety of incense. After that, you pay the participation fee for the tour and incense-making workshop, which is 500 yen in total (in other factories the fee might be as much as 1,300 yen, so that means you can save a lot of money for your other activities!). Furthermore, you can shop inside the factory for high-quality products made of incense as souvenirs.
In the first part, you will follow one of the staff around the factory and observe how the incense is made from scratch. The process itself is divided into five major steps, which are kneading and mixing, molding, cutting, drying and inspection, and packing.
Make your own incense
The second part of the tour is the highlight in my opinion. This is when you are given the chance to make incense. To start with, you can choose from three colors: yellow, pink and blue, and actually you can mix the color at the end if you still have a small amount of incense clay left. Next, you can choose the fragrance. It took me a lot of time to decide because there were too many options and all of them are attractive, such as citrus, lavender, herb, plum, camellia, etc. You will spend about 20 minutes to shape the clay using cookie cutters. The staff will give you boxes to take your incense home. You need to let it dry for 3 to 4 days before you use it.