Hobonichi Planner Review

I never did like agendas. The garishly pastel-colourful, flimsy organizers of ostensibly cookie-cuttered schedules and dates of interest always reeled me in with their promises of true structure and instant discipline before betraying me with their horrendous interfaces (you can’t click anything!) and the revelation that organization takes a quantity of time and quality of patience that eludes me. A year ago, however, I heard of another ‘tool’ that promised everything that an agenda did while seemingly rectifying its flaws. It was well-designed, minimalist and sparing in colour, fit for fountain pens, near-perfect in size, and effortlessly customizable. The Hobonichi Techo Planner was originally created by Shigesato Itoi, a famous video game designer, copywriter, online personality, and author. It is, in many ways, Japan’s take on the daily calendar. A mature and sensible planner that still possesses a distinct sense of design and personality, the Hobonichi Techo is an excellent product that has become a new daily carry for me.

My first impression upon first seeing the Techo in the flesh paper was one of pleasant surprise. The Planner is small enough to fit in a palm, but slightly wider than a typical smartphone. It’s cover is made of thin, textured paper, and features centered, stamped gold characters and a logo. The cover’s spine simply says ‘HOBO’  and 2014, and its binding leaves several vertebrae-like bumps. The back of the Planner is unadorned. There’s a certain simplicity to the planner which belies its modernity, yet with a quality of non-austerity that simply would not have existed in a similar product in the past. The Planner is distinctly ‘this year’, whatever this year happens to be, while still pulling from the past.

The Planner uses Tomoe River sheets, a special and rather rare type of Japanese paper that is known for being fountain pen friendly and ridiculously thin. This planner apparently fits close to 500 pages. Perhaps what impressed me the most was how unimpressive the thinness of the paper seemed; I didn’t notice that it was thin, which was interesting to note. The paper is light, too, and almost translucent. When you write on it, whatever you wrote is visible on the opposite side. This didn’t bother me, though; I was, instead, quite pleased by the qualities that the paper demonstrated. There was little to no ink bleeding, and Tomoe River is pleasantly vanilla to write upon, a far cry from the unnavigable and prolific realm of printer paper and lined sheets. The Planner also opens flat, a thoughtful touch which will probably not be lost on users looking to capitalize on Tomoe’s canvas of enticing paper.

The Hobonichi Planner can also be purchased with one (or more!) of a plethora of covers. These covers allow for a high range of customizability, and emphasize a sense of uniqueness and a distinct personality to each Planner. I received a polyester cover and a PVC/plastic cover for my cover. The cover itself is just as thoughtful as the Planner itself, and has two different-ended bookmarks, a butterfly clasp for closing the cover with a pen, and room for several cards or small pieces of paper and material. The World Folk Patterns Pueblo cover which I received allows for the Planner to be fit in via an insert. I’d be remiss not to mention every idiosyncrasy of this cover. I love the two small tags that say Hobonichi and 2014 in a delightful sans-serif. I love the design of the cover, and its beige inner colours. I also appreciate the smoothness of the polyester, and the ‘cover on cover’ PVC cover, which covers my cover (did I cover that sentence well enough?). The PVC cover allows for notes and papers to be stored, and is just one of a few ‘Tools and Toys’ that Itoi’s site/company developed for the Planner. The PVC cover is subtly textured, and I don’t think it’ll be leaving my other cover for a while.

The inside of the Planner is just as well-crafted as its exterior, and features a plethora of additions and features. Inside, I found yearly and monthly calendars, daily pages, and a section at the back of the book devoted to, among other things, country code numbers, national holidays around the world, and a guide to sushi. I really like the way the dark, thin font looks on the creme paper - it’s calming and minimalistic, but dense and sophisticated at the same time. Little touches such as bi-daily quotes, ‘Coming Up!’ pages for the start of each month, and red-coloured Sunday fonts all add to the charm of the Planner, and further demonstrate just how detailed the designers of the Planner are.

The very page layout of the Hobonichi is something of a small wonder, especially if you’re used to blank notebook paper for scribbling down ideas. A dotted grid with margins allows for the Planner to be used as an instrument of precision, and for creating detailed and structured plans and schedules. The lines are still of a light grey colour, though, and are thus unobtrusive if using the Planner for artwork and the like.

The Hobonichi can accommodate many different forms of media and styles of planning or play. This is where I found its greatest strength: I used it to plan my day, to draw, to jot notes, to scribble, and to test pens. Many people that post in online Hobonichi communities use it for painting, while others use it to meticulously tweak their day’s schedule. I never would have guessed that  people would use a daily planner for such a diverse array of activities.

I was also unaware of the benefits of having a notebook that has dates. While this may sound absurd, writing on a particular page intended to be written on for one day connotes a sense of structure, and allows me to look back on past Hobonichi entries as if they are a progression of my life.

The Hobonichi Planner does, however, suffer from a small, yet upsetting, flaw. Tomoe River Paper is smooth, creamy, and thin. It allows inks to behave well, without feathering or any other spreading. There is some bleeding, but it didn’t bother me. What I was surprised to find, though, was just how long it took for fountain pen inks to dry when using it. Some features of my handwriting, including dotted i’s and crossed t’s, were loathe to dry even hours after being written. Pencil marks were easy to smudge, as were entries by other pens. While Tomoe River Paper was smooth, I would have preferred to use a paper which did not have drying times that were so long.

Ultimately, the Hobonichi Planner amazed me. Its benefits are subtle, and it is meant to be used daily. The Planner is thoughtfully designed, able to be employed for a multitude of tasks, and a pleasure to use. The more I used, the more I started to appreciate it, and to feel that it truly belonged to me. It truly does exemplify the Japanese concept of ‘Yo no bi’ - or ‘beauty through use’. If I could change anything about the Planner in its current incarnation, I would seek to reduce the drying time of the paper, and perhaps allow for a smaller, pocket-friendly version to be purchased. The Hobonichi Planner continually and near-constantly met or exceeded my expectations. I think that there are a few staples for fountain pen collectors to consider trying, if not owning. These include a Lamy Safari, a good black or blue ink, and a competent notebook. If you are looking for a daily planner, and are tired of using a typical agenda, the Hobonichi Planner may very well be able to join said stationery pantheon.


 A lot of inspiring examples.


Anonymous asked:

Will the Hobonichi planner ever be sold in the United States?


Just to clarify, the online shop at does ship worldwide, and that’s where most transactions take place.

As far as in stores, it’s definitely something that Hobonichi is pursuing. It’s just been early in the game, and there’s a lot of research and hoops to jump through, but it’s a goal that everyone wants ♡

For now, the 2014 planner book was offered in the following stores earlier this year:

San Francisco, USA:

136 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, California

365 Valencia St.
San Francisco, California

*The stores in San Francisco are run by a gentleman named Robert who grew up in Japan and has a great respect for Japanese products. He was kind enough to approach us and express interest in the Hobonichi Planner.


Los Angeles, USA:

Tortoise General Store
1208 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, California 90291

*TGS is a fashionable shop run by a Japanese couple who sell high-end Japanese products. You can even buy things like traditional Japanese ironware Nambu Tekki!


I’m still not sure what the offerings will be in 2015, and as far as the stores listed above, you’d have to contact them directly to ask if they’ll be offering the 2015 planner books, too.

Covers are another story. With an enormous line-up (see ALL covers here) that grows every single year, it’s impossible for any store to have a few of every single kind lined up on their shelves, or it’d just take up way too much space for only one product. So even in Japan, not every store sells every kind of cover. (Not to mention knowing which kind to stock because there are so many, you never know which one a customer would choose.)

So as of now, overseas stores have only stocked the Hobonichi Planner book. Covers still need to be ordered online by the customer in the Hobonichi Store. (This is the same in Japan, where covers are not sold individually in stores; only in sets with the Japanese-language techo.)

Hope that helps!


scribblenblot asked:

Hello :) May I ask what iPhone ap you use to make the collages you print?


I’ve tried several and my favorite is Moldiv for one simple reason: they’ve got a collage layout that includes 8 pictures, which allows me to print my mini-photos. (Surprisingly hard to find.)


I use the same process every time:

1.) Set printer settings to 4x6 photo paper (I made sure to buy a printer with AirPrint so I can always go straight through my iPhone!)

2.) Choose 2-column, 8-pic layout in Moldiv (pictured)

3.) Click “Frame Adjust” and slide dimensions to 2:3

4.) Insert photos, click “effects” to be able to rotate, pinch and zoom, and move a photo around the frame

5.) Click up arrow in bottom-right to save collage to Camera Roll

6.) Open collage in Photos and print from there

Hope that helps! I have a hard time doing much of anything in my techo unless it’s very quick and easy, so once I got this system set up, I was magically able to tape cute little photographs in my pages almost every day~

It’s all about the little things


I fell off the radar when it came to updating my planner. Somehow life got in the way (as usual) and pushed its grubby little way into my plans and made a mess of it. 

I want to get back into it, but my planner actually ends in June. Either I buy a new one or I wait till the beginning of next year and get a fresh one. I’ve been looking enviously at those hobonichi ones, but I can’t see myself committing to it. After all, my life isn’t exactly exciting enough to fill all those pages. 

It’s all about the little things!

Let’s get honest, here: most of us don’t live very exciting lives. But one thing the Hobonichi Planner has been doing for people is helping them realize how precious our “nothing special” days are. (Creator Shigesato Itoi’s philosophy on the techo: link)

It’s just nice having our plain ol’ thoughts out on paper. Sometimes it helps us organize our vague feelings, sometimes it gets us motivated, sometimes it helps us notice things that we always overlooked, and sometimes it can provide us precious insight into our past when we read back on our planner books years and years from now.

Maybe you can just have some conversations with yourself:

"Had a 1,000 calorie milkshake today. Let a full week pass before making this mistake again."

"Note to self: in the future, use the bathroom before a class I’m scheduled to present my project…"

(Printed photo of puppy from internet) “Life goal: get this dog”

And it’s fun watching other people fill their planners with sketches, but it can make it daunting when we aspire for that. Opt to use washi tape, print out photos you took on your cell phone, and tape in cute pictures from magazines or packaging or internet print-outs. Or heck, get crazy with it and do nothing but scribble written memos~ ;)

There is no boring way to use a planner! It’s all about keeping our random thoughts and feelings around for the future.

Yoshimoto Banana’s Special Holiday in Mykonos

The Hobonichi Techo Spring Edition cover, Windows of Mykonos, first went on sale on February 1, 2014. The cover is modeled after the beautiful white scenery of the Greek island of Mykonos in the Aegean Sea. Turns out, famous author Yoshimoto Banana is also a big fan of Mykonos, and even went there for research on a book she published in 2010 that takes place there, called Another World.

So just what does Banana do on Mykonos Island? We had our resident Mykonos-obsessed Hobonichi staff member Fujita, and Yuunaito, who’s worked with Banana in the past, meet with Banana to hear all about it!


We’re two months into the new year, so many of us have gotten a chance to begin settling down into our Hobonichi Planners. How are you liking yours? Being so early in our international debut, Hobonichi would love to hear how users across the world are liking the planners. That’s where the online survey comes in!

They’d love to hear all about you, your shopping experience, and how you’re enjoying your planner. It’s been amazing seeing the Hobonichi Planner reach outside of Japan for the first time, and they want input from all their new users overseas so they can make the planner better than ever! Would you like to see new features? Would you like to see an A5 Cousin-size English version? Let them know!

There are a total of about 30 questions, and it should take about 10-15 minutes to completely fill out the survey. The deadline for submissions is March 24, 11 AM Japan time (2 AM GMT, or March 23, 7 PM PDT.)

You can find the survey here:


The English version Hobonichi Techo interior pages.

There are three different calendar formats before the journal section begins! How much do I love the columnar one for keeping track of daily tasks?! (i can’t remember the last time I did my 3 things, so no marks yet… I’m hoping this visual record will help me do what I’m supposed to)

I also love that the monthly calendar pages are gridded. I can see so much possibility for that, and I don’t think it’s a very common format.

The journal pages themselves have a Day 0 for each month with plain lines before the gridded Day 1, which is nice for planning or notes. Sunday’s are printed in orange instead of grey, but I didn’t get a photo of that…

Incidentally, the Rhodia planner has made me very fond of the orange/grey combo for journals and calendars.

The pages are basically like bible paper, but better. They’re super thin and almost translucent, so ink *will* show through, but my fountain pens didn’t bleed through at all! I did find that they are slower to dry as a result, and I need to invest in waterproof black (I’m thinking Aurora Black).

Finally, the back of the journal, before the pages about Japanese food and drink, has several pages of orange dot grid. I don’t actually have any ideas how to use it, but it looks nice.

I am ordering some washi tape and a watercolour set from jetpens today. I got doublesided tape from target yesterday… Where else is good to order cute washi tape?


It’s that time of year, when Hobonichi is hard at work designing the 2015 planner, and they need your help! Next year, one of the informational pages in the back of the book will feature a list of “Ways to Make Decisions” all over the world. These are essentially ways that adults use to make a random decision when they can’t come up with an answer, so for example, Eenie-Meenie-Miny-Mo may not be one of them. Our list consists of: Rock Paper Scissors and Amidakuji ( in Japan, and a coin toss and drawing straws in America. Are there any other methods you can think of that people make random decisions? Methods used outside of Japan and the U.S. are especially welcomed! Leave your ideas in a comment or post them on the original Facebook thread here:


Anonymous asked:

I'm thinking of getting an Instax mini to take picture for my hobonichi as well as other things. I recall seeing some type of photo printer last year on the Japanese Hobonichi site. Do you have any recommendations?


Instax cameras look awesome, but I’ve never used one before. If anyone knows about photo printers and has any recommendations, reply with a comment!

I personally just bought a printer for my Hobonichi Techo, but I figured I’d get one that I can use for regular printing, too. So I got a normal inkjet home printer that has AirPrint, and I take pictures on my iPhone, use an app like Pic Stitch to make collages out of them, print them out on 4x6” photo paper, and then cut all the pictures out. It’s really effective in making thumbnail-size photos to tape to my pages, so that’s my personal recommendation if you want to go an all-purpose route. (I personally was worried about the price of film for instant cameras, but I haven’t done the research to check.)image




muffinandcups asked:

I've read there's an academic hobonichi coming starting in April, do you know anything about it? I've missed ordering it last year and am content starting my planner in April.


I’m not entirely sure what you mean by academic—the Japanese school year starts in April, so maybe just that it coincides with the new year? But yes, there is an April version, but it’s Japanese-only. The English planner only begins with January.

If you’re okay using the Japanese-version Hobonichi Techo, and you want the Spring version, you’ve got a choice between two sizes: Original (A6) and Cousin (A5).

You can find ordering instructions here:

Please note!! The above walkthrough’s product links connect you to the regular January-start version. Here’s the spring version books:

(Blue: Monday-start week, Red: Sunday-start week)


Cousin: (Monday-start only)

The thing is, the Japanese Hobonichi Store cover+planner sets have all switched over to automatically include the April-start planner, so you also have the option of adding a set to your cart from the Japanese end and then just switching your cart to English right away.

Yellow header: Original size, Turquoise header: Cousin size


A very late Hobonichi Techo post~ I’ll be talking about ordering and the product itself after the cut:

Read More


i’m growing to really really love the hobonichi planner. it’s not really a “planner” i think that’s just how it translated into English. every day has its own dedicated page and it forces me to sit down on even the most uneventful days and make notes about what was on my mind, what i was into. i…


The online shop will be closed from January 27th, 11 AM to February 1st, 11 AM Japan time (Jan. 26th 9 PM EST to Jan. 31st 9PM EST in North America).

Every year, Hobonichi closes the online store for about a week to renovate the store and prepare it for the Spring edition shop. The Japanese version also comes in a Spring version that begins in April instead of January, and this spring edition planner joins the line-up of fully restocked covers in addition to a new spring-edition cover or two. The Japanese version January-start planner will still be available while supplies last.

As to how this will affect the English store, the Hobonichi Planner is only available with a January start date. The Hobonichi Planner books will continue to be in stock, all the covers will be restocked, and a spring-edition cover will be added to the lineup.

So if you’d like to place any orders now, get them in soon! Otherwise, we’ll see you at the end of the week, with a full inventory ready to go!