Sakura Iro, Atelier Cologne Encens Jinhae

Ever since I was a small boy I was fascinated by distant, foreign countries. I was attracted by all the travel programs in TV that could show me a small part of a faraway place. Among these unknown landscapes there is one that I still dream about every now and then. Japan has been on my mind ever since I was 7-8 years old. Perhaps it was due to the fact that as a schoolboy I was also a fan of anime, the Japanese animations. I would rush home after the last lesson only not to miss the next episode of the show. But I didn’t really want to see the big city life in Tokyo…


I dreamt and I still dream nowadays of seeing the more spiritual-oriented part of Japan. I’d love to see a pagoda surrounded by blossoming cherry trees, a Japanese temple with a distinctive smell of incense, a traditional Japanese garden with bonsai, koi fish ponds and a crescent bridge. And of course it would be a dream come true if I could see a geisha, or at least someone in traditional kimono. I will visit that oriental country one day, have a sip of their green tea and will witness all the beautiful sights with my own eyes. For the time being I’ll keep enjoying Japan hidden in the bottle – in a form of Encens Jinhae, a new fragrance by Atelier Cologne in Collection Orient.

The composition of Encens Jinhae is initiated by a bold and powerful accord of incense. It starts really potent with a mighty element of darkness that almost brings you to having impression as if you were smelling raw birch tar. It gets kind of oily, very balsamic and resinous. For a few minutes it’s almost an offensive scent when incense blends with a dryness and spiciness of nutmeg. It’s probably the latter note that assimilated with incense to bring up the feeling of something woody and rough. However after 5-10 minutes composition of this Cologne Absolue completely changes.

Out of the blue I start to smell sheer and delicate fragrance of lemon. It has a little bit of juiciness of the pulp and tartness of the rind. This chord never becomes very strong in Encens Jinhae, it’s here for a purpose of building a bridge between the phases. Next aroma that blooms on my skin is the rose accord. It’s rich, lush and floral in its heart but in the composition of a fragrance is bit more shy and reserved – it doesn’t bloom to the fullest but remains more quiet and peaceful. There is a reason for that. After around 1 hour this new Atelier Cologne scent reveals an aromatic vibe of pink pepper. It has a mild spiciness to it that vibrates on skin and gives a little tingle inside your nose.


A little while longer helps the perfume to become slightly more resinous again thanks to heavier molecules of olibanum and elemi resins. Because of them the incense note can rise up again like phoenix from ashes. This time the encens aroma is totally different. It’s the source of peaceful thoughts that help to clear your mind. The smell is smoky but it has some clarity and zen that are hard to explain. You just have to smell it to understand what I mean here. The best part of Encens Jinhae comes after more than 2 hours of wearing it. That is when a gentle wind starts to blow and it deliver a beautiful aroma of cherry blossoms. This note has a very harmonious style.

Cherry flowers introduce a lovely floral element to Atelier Cologne Encens Jinhae. It’s not too light and not too strong. It’s just the vision of pink petals that float up in the air every time a wind rustles between the branches of cherry tree. It’s the calm and meditative smell that really makes me think of Japan. At some point of development the airy aroma becomes slightly heavier when sandalwood joins the composition. It’s a smooth and elegant woody note here, also not very powerful. But it’s so suitable there. Even though on the first thought many of these aroma materials don’t go well together, please believe me – there is a consistency in this perfume without any doubts.

“The wind was blowing. The graceful petals of the cherry blossoms were dancing like snow flakes. Suddenly, she got closer to him and dove into jet black eyes. He thought that his spell started to take hold. Her beauty was unique. Despite feeling guilty, he kissed her.”


Later in the drydown many of the notes become too light for me to perceive them any longer. However there are two main players left on my skin after 6 hours. Those are resinous molecules that create incense note and the other one is cherry blossom note. I could swoon all day long smelling them together. There is a synergy between these accords as to me they smell even better now. Can you imagine silver swirls of incense smoke floating in the air? I’m sure you can. Now use your inner eyes and give the smoke a pastel pink color. Doesn’t it look charming? That’s how Encens Jinhae smells to me in the drydown. Like a pink smoke of cherry blossoms.

Cologne Absolue of Encens Jinhae is a composition concentrated at 20%. I know that this is not the strongest among Atelier Cologne creations there are available on the market but it certainly has some magic in it. The fragrance wears closer to the skin, it’s projection is smaller but it lasts all day. I just want to have it in my collection to be able to smell my private piece of Japan whenever I can. Flacons in 30, 100 & 200 ml are covered with white lacquer and blue-ish/gray-ish label. If you ever looked for a fragrance that is lighter, modern but feels kind of nostalgic, Encens Jinhae is for you.

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24 thoughts on “Sakura Iro, Atelier Cologne Encens Jinhae

  1. jillie says:

    This seems a very unusual fragrance – almost like a mish-mash of elements, but from what you say they work well together. You had me at lemon! Yes, I imagine this would be good to wear as a meditative aid.

    I can picture you at a tea ceremony, being presented with a lovely cup as part of the ritual! I hope you get to do that one day.

    • lucasai says:

      Hi Jillie. I think you will love Encens Jinhae knowing you fancy Atelier Cologne.
      That would be beyond amazing to participate in tea ceremony.

  2. What a fascinating sounding perfume. I’ve got to try this one to reconnect to my inner Japan. While I was reading your review, I was thinking that this would be a perfect “Ohanami” scent. One thing I really loved about spring in Japan was ohanami; sitting under cherry trees in full bloom, enjoying little picnic with tea and sake. If you ever visit Japan, go there in spring when all the cherry blossoms are out.

  3. Holly says:

    I have not yet made it to Japan, but I think out of everywhere I haven’t visited it is at the top of the list. If Encens Jinhae can evoke something of that country, it must be incredible.
    I’m so far behind on the Ateliers so I really appreciate your keeping us in the loop. This goes onto the must-try list!

    • lucasai says:

      Same here Holly & I’m very happy I got a chance to discover Encens Jinhae because it’s so evocative.
      It’s Japanese in its own sort of way.
      In AC Collection Orient there is one more that I like and am going to review at some point.

  4. Undina says:

    Even though Japan isn’t on my bucket list, I look forward to trying this perfume (and the rest of the Collection Orient, especially the mimosa one).

  5. hajusuuri says:

    What a lovely review, Lucas! I had only been to Tokyo International Airport so that doesn’t count. If I weren’t already committed to several getaways, I would have signed up for a fabulous trip arranged by a museum director (well, his staff), with behind the scenes access. I have a full set of samples from the Orient Collection and really need to dig into them! As an aside, my sister had a jewelry box with a music box that olayed the sakura tune.

    • lucasai says:

      Thank you sweetie. Yep, it doesn’t count. Same goes for me in London, Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where I have only been at the airport and didn’t visit the city 😦
      You really should give those new Atelier Cologne scents some priority skin time (almost wrote priority boarding)

  6. Ania says:

    Encens Jinhae – as I understand it is inspired by the Korean festival of cherry blossom (even though this Native American dreamcatcher on Atelier’s postcard is somewhat puzzling).
    For sure this fragrance can evoke the romantic side of Japan – sakura, or even better, plum blossom plus incense is such a great pairing. I like Encens Jinhae, it is pleasant but I better take a walk along cherry trees near a temple – I live in Japan 😉

    • lucasai says:

      You are the lucky one to get the chance to experience it live, you don’t need a perfume to transport there.
      Do tell – how does plum blossom smell like?

      • Ania says:

        Japanese plum blossom is much more intensive then cherry blossom. The scent is quite complex – like fruit tree flowers mixed with something almondy, spicy and incensy, maybe a bit of freesia also. There is also some dark undercurrent in their aroma, especially in dark pink flowers; it is hard to describe. Anyway, I love it 🙂
        Now Daphne odora is perfuming the whole city, the scent is so intensive I can practically taste it! Then, the next potent plant will bloom in October – Japanese Osmanthus (kinmokusei) – another love.

        • lucasai says:

          That really does smell charming! I want to smell it with my own nose now! :>
          And real osmanthus… You have too many nice smells to encounter living in Japan

          • Ania says:

            Definitely! I’ll miss all those olfactory impression when i leave Japan, soon.
            Oh, forgot about gardenias in May/June – those green, heady, mushroomy, lovely but selfish gardenias 🙂

            • lucasai says:

              Stop, you 😉
              I’m getting Jealous. Although smell of gardenia isn’t my favorite one.
              Are you going to travel or are you moving to a new place?

            • Ania says:

              To answer your question – after 10 years in Japan I’m moving back to Europe, probably Poland. Japan has a wonderful culture and nature but it has also a dark side which affects my professional life. Also, Japanese society is quite male chauvinistic and I feel it will be better for my kids to grow up somewhere else.
              I’m scared, excited and looking forward to lilacs-scented springs and snowy winters (in Kobe it never snows) 🙂

            • lucasai says:

              If you move to Poland we might have a relatively high chance of meeting each other in person as I’m based in Poznań.
              I understand your seek for a better environment to live in

            • Ania says:

              Sure! Would be fun to meet. I’ll be in Warsaw.

  7. rickyrebarco says:

    This one sounds really fascinating, Lucas. Will have to try it when it arrives at my local Sephora.

  8. Meghan says:

    I just bought this after testing it at my local Lane Crawford in Hong Kong weeks ago. I LOVE it. I tested it as I walked by one day and then became addicted and needed to go back and buy it. So pricey but I really love the smell – definitely unique. I bought the set and love my little embossed travel size that I can take with me daily.

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