Hobonichi Techo – A [3/4ths] Year in Review

31 08 2016

The Hobonichi-ordering season is swiftly upon us, so it’s time to gather up my thoughts on the beloved planner and share them all with you.

Look I’m a hip internet thing with my washi tapes and my book readings

Prior to the Hobonichi, I used an extra small Moleskine to keep track of my work schedule and overtime hours, but the paper was terrible. I also had a tiny Quo Vadis Miniweek to have good paper in my life, but the Miniweek didn’t have the monthly overview I needed to plan out my overtime at work. And I’m sure an assortment of various other planners or pseudo-planners waltzed through. My life was a shambling mess of too many not-quite-perfect planners. So why did I go for the Hobonichi Techo? Probably pretty pictures layered with dream-colored filters on Instagram. I too could have a neatly written and washi-taped-up life, if only I bought this fabled amalgamation of Tomoe River paper and unicorn wishes.

here let me bookmark the tl;dr version for you

The short review: I’m buying another planner for 2017. And getting a leather cover for it, so I’m planning on continuing this tradition for a while. The end.

Case closed. Mystery solved.

I ordered the English Hobonichi Planner with Custard cover from the Hobonichi store. It also came with a clear Cover-on-Cover, which I abandoned pretty promptly. It felt too slippery? It made the whole thing ever so slightly wider? For whatever reason, I didn’t like it, took it off my planner, and last I recall it was in the trunk of my car some months ago. No idea if it’s still there now. No desire to find it.

Mostly because my trunk is an interdimensional portal to a netherworld of paper cuts and old iPhone cases

The Custard and Cream color polyester cover is beautiful. Choosing just one of the vibrant covers was hard, but I’m happy with my choice. The drawback to abandoning the protective Cover-on-Cover is that the actual cover has become a little dirty over the course of the year. I could try to wash it off. Or I could order a leather cover for next year. The responsible choice is obvious.

Buy the leather cover AND a new polyester cover. Obviously

The standard Hobonichi cover comes with a lot of little pockets that I like in theory and decoratively, but haven’t actually used that much. The bookmarks and pen loops, however, are essential to my life. I keep one bookmark on the current monthly overview, and the other on the current day. The little tabs at the bottom of the bookmarks weight them just enough to help them lay where they need to and make them easy to grab hold of to move. I think the pen loops are intended to be used as a sort of locking device, the idea being you put one pen through both loops and it holds the cover shut, but I’ve done that approximately zero times since trying it once. I prefer to put one pen in each loop, keep my options open.

And the book open, since it’s not locked shut with writing implement


I will not delve much into the extra content, such as size charts, conversion tables, country codes, national holidays, information about Japanese geography, dining, etc. because while these are interesting, they are not the practical-use stuff I’m interested in analyzing. Functionally, the Hobonichi Techo contains the following sections: yearly overview (2016 & 2017), four months at a time overview, monthly overview, daily pages with extra blank page at the beginning of each month, and blank dot grid pages.

The yearly overview is good for quick-glance planning with the strange rotating-pattern schedule I have. The four months at a time overview has left me stumped. I have not yet hit on a good use for it in my life. Maybe if I planned out exercise routines? Planning out dinners? Format-wise, it doesn’t work as well for planning out my work schedule as the monthly overview does.

Here’s the section that has eliminated the need for my little Moleskine planner. This format is perfect for planning out my work/life, and easier for me to visualize my overtime sign up especially given that I work the night shift. There’s just enough room to write down everything I need. Monthly overview, don’t ever change.

On to the daily. I lasted about 1 month writing large fancy things in the middle of pages and filling in words around them. Once I settled into a pattern of just writing whatever I want I’ve done much better. Usually, it’ll be a summary of the day. Sometimes to-do lists. Sometimes doodles, or stickers, or recipes, or whatever. Really, truly whatever. A book this fancy may come with an intimidation factor, perhaps, that causes some people to abandon the effort. Don’t try to force it. Don’t wreck yourself trying to make each page some grand work of art. Let it be what it will be. For me and my life, it’s just enough room to summarize the occurrings of any given day.

The beginning of each month features a “Coming Up!” page, which I’ve used backwards from what I think is the intended purpose. I use it to document an overall summary of the month – the books I have read, the new recipes I have tried, the days I got more than 10,000 steps, the major events that occurred in that month. I’m sure it also works great for making plans if that’s what you’re into. Bonus, the Hobonichi includes half pages for the last 2 weeks of the previous year and the first week of the next year, which is great if you’re just starting a Hobonichi but I’m wondering how I will utilize this transitioning from 2016 to 2017 Hobonichi.

The blank dot grid is where I’ve kept track of the pen and ink combos that I’ve used in the notebook throughout the year. The Hobonichi is known for its use of the magical Tomoe River paper, a substance that is both thin and fountain pen friendly (and friendly to other things like watercolor, but I haven’t gotten that highfalutin this year. I have some mini watercolor pans in a tin. I guess the next step involves actually using them). Tomoe River paper can take a lot of ink without any bleedthrough, but being such thin paper you can absolutely see through it. This may be a drawback or dealbreaker for some people, but it keeps the planner relatively slim and portable while still being wonderful for fountain pen ink. Only you can decide how showthrough impacts you.

Only you can prevent forest fires

Will I be patient enough for the Hobonichi to be in stock thru Jetpens? Or will I cave and order it at the first available second direct from the Hobonichi website? We’ll find out on September 1st, 11AM Japan time if I can resist the temptation.


Update: Of course I wasn’t patient enough to wait! The Hobonichi website on the first day of ordering is an exercise in frustration and futility–the servers historically have never been beefed up enough to handle the worldwide demand for a planner we really won’t actually be using for several months. After about 8 or more attempts in which my cart kept repeatedly getting deleted, I finally managed to place my order on September 1st. It was shipped September 8th, and made it all the way from Japan to my apartment complex office in NC on September 13th. As for JetPens, the planners came in stock on September 15th, and I completely missed the email about it. The only thing you don’t get from JetPens are the Hobonichi Store Exclusives (this year, a small toast-shaped plate and a 3 color pen), nor access to the accessories (I also ordered a planner ruler and a pencil board).



17 responses

31 08 2016

You’ve convinced me to bite the bullet and finally get one of these; I’ll pass on the washi tape, though. That looks like good leather, a little saddle soap will clean it up nicely. :)

31 08 2016
No Pen Intended

My only caveat, which I forgot until just now trying to put an order in, is don’t order from the Hobonichi website on the first day. It’s endlessly frustrating and nearly impossible to get an order thru their overloaded servers. This cover is actually polyester, but they have a similar cover this year in a similar yellow that I think is leather

2 09 2016

I went to order one, and the shipping was very nearly equal to the cost of the item itself :( I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $63 on an A6 journal.

2 09 2016
No Pen Intended

Wait until Jetpens gets them in stock, the price is better but being patient is hard. I worked a lot of overtime recently and have no impulse control sooo I went ahead and got it from the Hobonichi site, wincing all the while…

2 09 2016

Wonderpens got a few in last year, maybe I’ll give them a shout.

31 08 2016

I’m getting ready to order my third. Can’t wait!

1 09 2016
Currently Inked – September 2016 | Fountain Pen Quest

[…] Hobonichi Techo – A [3/4ths] Year in Review – No Pen Intended reviews a 3/4 used Hobonichi. It is planner buying season and the new Hobonichis are available today. […]

3 09 2016

I’m currently using the Cousin A5 Hobonichi books but switching to A6 for next year! I love the way you highlight days in the yearly overview! I think I might steal that technique but not sure what for yet :). I’m also getting a Weeks to replace my Moleskine weekly planner. Like you said the paper is quite crap and requires a lot of experimentation to find the right pen for it, something I’m glad I don’t have to worry about next year :).

6 09 2016

You’ve really tempted me to get one, but a) my work schedule is always the same and b) I really suck at writing daily summaries in journals ‘cos I get bored, like, “I know all this already!” Probably I should refrain.

6 09 2016

That said, I totally clicked the Jet Pens link and now I love the pink/red one.

11 09 2016

Honestly I”m too tempted to buy a Hobonichi, but my goodness, that price..it’s my major drawback. If I’m really curious to try out what Tomoe River Paper feels like I might just buy a pad paper or loose sheets for now. But that Hobonichi,,as pretty as it looks like I’m afraid I’ll have to pass.

I decided to start a personal planner again this month (last year’s was merged–I was studying and working at the same time) and I’m using a Muji weekly planner and I love it. Maybe next year I’ll bite the bullet and buy a Hobo once my finances are in order. Maybe… :) (Btw, nice blog.)

18 10 2016

I use the 4 month to a spread section to note a highlight from the day e.g. Visiting a friend, eating at a restaurant, seeing a movie, a big storm, etc. It is probably redundant seeing as I write on the daily pages, but it is actually my favourite bit of the Hobonichi now. I don’t use mine as a planner, rather just as a diary, so I haven’t worked out what to put on the monthly spreads, or the monthly ‘preview’ page. The 2017 version is a little different in that regard, but I like your list of highlights. I need to be better on my 10,000 steps goal!

30 01 2017
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[…] back, my fine friends, to a new year. New year, new planners. While the Hobonichi Techo has got a pretty firm lock on my heart, I do recognize that it’s not going to be perfect for […]

28 03 2017
Palomino Blackwing Slate | No Pen Intended

[…] I prefer thinner drawing paper, and especially prefer fountain pen friendly paper. And with all the Hobonichi Techo use in my life, I have come to fully accept a world of showthrough. But if showthrough bothers you, […]

30 11 2017
Pilot Falcon – Red – Rhodium Trim – Soft Extra Fine Nib | No Pen Intended

[…] has made this pen so essential to my life is how well it pairs with my Hobonichi. The monthly spread pages have small boxes. Small boxes require small writing. Perfect for the soft […]

5 12 2017

Do you use the A5 or A6 version? I wonder if I’ll need the extra space that the A5 provides at the trade-off for something lighter and potentially more portable.
Thanks for your input in advance!

5 12 2017
No Pen Intended

I use the A6. The portability is key for me. If I can’t easily carry it around then I won’t use it

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