hibi

 The traditional crafts of Hyogo prefecture in Japan’s South West include centuries of incense blending, and more recently, 70% of Japan’s match production: the innovation of hibi’s self-lighting incense sticks is to combine the two. 

Thanks to its temperate Westerly winds which are ideal for drying, the island of Awaji has become the natural home of incense manufacturing in Japan, since the skill was introduced by Tokugawa craftsmen. On the nearby coast of Harima, domestic production of matches successfully grew to become a major export to Europe, and the prefecture maintains this industry, generations on.

The makers of hibi incense saw an opportunity to draw on the region’s strong and specific manufacturing heritage in creating a unique product of breathtaking simplicity; a miniature incense stick complete with the strikable end of a match. Painstakingly trialled and refined over 3 years, hibi ‘ten minutes aroma’ is a technical wonder, incorporating natural paper fibres, wax and charcoal with meticulously balanced incense powders for just the right strength and stability.  

The hibi incense stick requires no match or lighter at all, but is itself lit on the strike tape at the side of the box. After a pause for the flame to burn clearly, this is gently blown out and the stick left to burn, safely resting on its own reusable custom pad, the subtle aroma curling into the air to enhance (but never overpower) your space.

In every delightful detail, from the different coloured match heads which coordinate to the colours of their boxes, to the precise fit of the safety-lined tray and pad, through to the art direction, the presentation of hibi is simple and exquisite. Fragrances include a traditional Japanese range as well as seven occidental herbal scents, refined just for hibi by a third-generation incense maker. Even the sticks’ length is thoughtfully engineered to produce a burning time just long enough for a peaceful interlude at home, at work, or on your travels.

From a box containing centuries of tradition, yet which fits into the palm of your hand, hibi’s simple striking motion is a universal invitation to enjoy the serenity and nostalgia awakened by scent.