Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2019

Academic Department

Modern Languages

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Oya Dursun-Ozhanca; Dr. Nobuaki Takahashi


The precursors toward the establishment of the Japanese ceremony of incense appreciation called Kōdō have been documented since Japan’s book of creation, the Nihon Shoki. Similar to Sadō, the Japanese ceremony of tea drinking, Kōdō has been an integral part of Japanese culture, being used by figureheads that shaped Japan into the amalgamation of the country it is now, such as Prince Shotoku during the sixth and seventh centuries. Even today, Kōdō is still being practiced, and the fundamentals behind it are still used in ceremonies and practices that are integral parts of Japanese culture and society. Despite this, Kōdō is far less recognized throughout Japan and the United States as Sadō. While this is a well-known fact, the reason why is not as commonly understood. Information from many first and second-hand sources has been gathered and laid out in order to concretely figure out why that is, in addition to explaining the cultural and societal significance of the art, and why the understanding of it should be more disseminated throughout Japan and the United States. Through this, the impact other countries’ cultures had on the foundation and usage of incense in Japan will also be further explained. Ultimately, the conclusion of this thesis will prove why the dissemination of Kōdō has been such an integral part to the development of many modern customs and cultural practices throughout Japan. It will additionally show why the further dissemination of Kōdō throughout the rest of the world will further the understanding of Japanese cultural by non-Japanese citizens.