I had never realised the importance that incense had on the Japanese culture until I went to an exhibition completely devoted to it the other day. The tools and activities that surround it are similar to those of the tea ceremony and it is just as valued an art as both the tea ceremony (chado) and of flower arrangement (ikebana). I love the fact that the phrase for appreciating incense is called "fragrance listening" - it evokes a feeling of incorporating all the senses.
Painting also incorporated the art of "fragrance listening" where the image evoked a certain smell, such as a flower, fragrant trees, a beautiful woman, or even soil and rain. And a lot of poetry was inspired by the fragrance of incense.