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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).