Japanese artisans are extremely proud of their work, and this tobacco is no exception. Every stage of production is carefully controlled, and they have produced an exquisite product.
Although listed as shag, that was the finest shred category available to choose. This stuff is not shag. The tobacco is sliced (by impeccably made and maintained Japanese steel knives, of course) into the tiniest, hair-like strands you'll ever find. To smoke it, you take a small pinch and roll it in your fingers to create a small, somewhat tight ball of tobacco. This ball is placed in a Japanese kiseru pipe, which is a long, typically bamboo pipe with a metal mouthpiece and metal bowl. The bowl is tiny, maybe about the size of 1/8 of a teaspoon, although a bit deeper. The Japanese tradition is to just have a taste to satisfy, and then move on. While it is certainly possible to smoke more of this, it's quite strong in the nicotine department, and it only comes in 10g pouches (about 1/3oz.). I find that a small clay tasting pipe works well if you don't have a kiseru. Or, a small calabash will have a small bowl that will fit a good amount, but not too much, of this leaf.
Unfortunately for the rest of the world, this is only sold in Japan, and it is apparently illegal to ship it outside of the country. If you are lucky enough to visit this beautiful country, or lucky enough to know someone going, then a box or three can be brought back with you or them in luggage.
The box is not airtight, and neither is the pouch. It is folded paper, carefully and beautifully packaged with a small sticker to hold it closed. The moisture level is perfect right out of the pouch, with no drying necessary. The pouch note is of a fine medium-bodied Virginia. You get a lot of grass up front, and a slight earthy, woody hay. There's not much citrus on the nose, but once you light it you'll get lemony citrus and fresh-cut grass. There's a very slight Virginia sweetness, as of the cinnamon sugar in an oatmeal raisin cookie, but it's faint and mostly detectable on the retrohale. This is sublime Virginia tobacco.
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