A Half Year With the Hobonichi

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I am fundamentally a weekly kind of person. I’ve used the same one-week-per-spread format across many brands (the Japanese brand T’Beau, Paperblanks, museum planners, Moleskine weekly twin sets in pocket and regular sizes and special editions) consistently for the past twenty years. So my biggest worry upon taking the plunge into a Hobonichi was whether I could keep up with the daily format. I wanted to record more diary-style information than previously, but I also had a history of abandoning daily journals a few days into the new year.

Six months on, I have to say that the Hobonichi venture has been an unqualified success, because I have filled up nearly every page till now and am still going strong. And getting antsy for news of next year’s planner, too, because this time I’m going to get the larger Cousin AND the regular planner, both! This planner has made me sit down, not every day, but at regular enough intervals, to write down the particulars of my days.

I like the pull of the special paper, and I also like the fact that the grid-lined space invites me to use it freely for non-journalling purposes. My Hobonichi is becoming not exactly a diary but a snapshot of random bits of information on a variety of interests scattered over certain periods of time. I can’t draw so I haven’t attempted much by way of illustration; what I rather do is record factual information on topics of current interest, calling up my arsenal of colored ink and colored pencils. Early in the year I drew constellations after reading Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. A couple of months later I read a succession of books on Africa, which made me realize that my geographical knowledge of the continent was sorely lacking, so I drew maps. Maybe information drawn by hand is indeed better absorbed, the way experts argue that drawing letters help develop children’s brains. I certainly hope so. I also write down stationery wish lists and bits of information on pens and pencils that I want to save from emails on spare pages. I don’t paste things onto it much because I don’t want it to get too bulky; also, I’ve found out that masking tape tends to curl the paper, probably because it’s so thin.

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(Last year’s MT Mizumaru Anzai special edition, the illustrator who was Haruki Murakami’s longtime collaborator.)

That said, the one issue I have with the Hobonichi is covers. The standard one I have is too ugly and unwieldy, and the nicer ones are just too expensive. In any case I feel that covers somehow detract from the simple beauty of the planner itself. I may just go coverless next year.

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11 thoughts on “A Half Year With the Hobonichi

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience with the Hobonichi Techo – it’s great to hear that you are happy with it!

    I have experienced that there is another special pull of the paper (or maybe the whole Techo): It screams “Write! Draw!” ;-) So my Techo collects notes of almost any kind, even one or the other sketch (although my drawing skills are very limited). I haven’t noticed that “pull” with another notebook or calendar before!

    I too find the cover (I have a leather one) a little bulky now. However, since it protects the Techo, keeps it closed and stores a mechanical pencil I will keep it for the time being.

    Do you have a system for tasks and notes like e. g. the ones of the Bullet Journal?

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    1. Gunther, thank YOU for introducing me to the Hobonichi! I cannot believe that I was right there in Japan when it was first released and still managed to miss it – well, maybe because I didn’t even consider “daily” formats back then ;) I don’t carry it around, I keep it at home, so for me the need for a cover is really nonexistent.

      I don’t record daily tasks on notebooks – I jot them down on small square sheets of memo pad paper, and as soon as everything is done I throw them away. However I do have an A6-sized small notebook where I record facts (usually information concerning books, music, pens, etc.). For the past few years I have also kept a separate record of the books I have read. But I think the most heavily used notebook (and one written mostly with pencil) is my vocabulary notebook. I’ve always written down words I don’t know and ever since my student days I have always kept a vocabulary notebook filled with foreign words :)

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      1. My pleasure, Sola! :-)

        Thank you for sharing the details of your notebook use. They are very different from mine! Many years ago I had one for recording expenses, one for the records I was searching for, one for random notes etc. but found the combination a little awkward to use, and the one I needed at the moment was often the one I didn’t had with me ;-) However, maybe my type of use was the reason for the problem … That’s why I have welcomed the one-page-per-day format, and often there is still enough room for a photo.

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      2. Right, and another thing about using different notebooks to record different things is that it can take quite a long time to fill individual notebooks – in my case it can take years. But as a stationery enthusiast you want to try new notebooks and new paper all the time!

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      3. As a stationery enthusiast you end up with a drawer with unused notebooks, no matter how many different notebooks you use at the same time ;-)

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  2. I haven’t seen that tape before! Very nice :)

    On my Hobonichi, I used to tape business cards of restaurants I visit but stopped doing it because I was afraid they would make the techo too bulky in the end. I still add generous amounts of washi tapes though.. ^^;; Hopefully it won’t be that bad. I’ve seen amazing examples of Hobonichis on Instagram that are easily twice the original in thickness. Ha!

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    1. When I asked a Japanese friend about the Hobonichi, her response was that she had used it for many years but had now moved on to a different planner because she didn’t like how fat it got in the end. And I wouldn’t want to see it get too bulky either. So I tape stuff onto my other non-Hobonichi weekly planner, and try to keep the Hobonichi free of additions :)

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