Hobonichi Planner 2016 (Daily + Weekly)

My Hobo for next year arrived! I’m not a big fan of social media in general, but I have to say it is convenient for keeping track of new products and sales dates. So, although I wasn’t in any hurry (I was passing on the covers this year), I ended up placing my order on the day they went on sale, just to be done with the whole thing.

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The box this year is a pretty shade of light turquoise.

The English-language planner is its usual self (it now has a serial number at the end but is otherwise unchanged in the most important aspects), and as it has been featured ad nauseam in the blogosphere (including my post) I will skip this and concentrate on the Weeks instead.

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The standard weekly spread; it is available in the Japanese edition only and shows all the Japanese holidays in red. The only thing I’m worried about is whether there’s going to be enough space to paste things on in the right-hand page.

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It has a few additional lines for memos at the bottom of the week. I agree with many out there who think the quotes just take up space, but the publisher seems to think these are an integral part of the Hobonichi so they probably won’t be going away anytime soon.

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One surprise was the generous amount of free notepaper added on at the end. 71 pages – almost one-third of the book! The format is somewhat like the IDEA Notebooks I wrote about earlier, only the Hobonichi is narrower.

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The good-to-know general info pages at the end feature the seasonal festivities associated with the lunar calendar, and year charts (for lack of a better term). The latter, which is actually an age-calculation chart, is especially useful because Japan still uses this antiquated year-numbering system based on the Emperor’s reign (for instance, 2015 is Heisei 27, i.e. the 27th year of the reign of Emperor Akihito), and surprisingly for a modern Westernized nation, often does not bother to note the corresponding year based on the Christian calendar. This is especially frustrating when you’re trying to figure out when a book was published and the end pages only say Showa or Heisei something. The chart also notes which animal on the Chinese zodiac is associated with that year. Saves you some googling.

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The Weeks comes with a small pocket you can stick on to the back cover, plus a railway map of several major cities. The Tokyo rail map is impressive, but what’s more amazing is that they keep building and expanding! There are stations and lines I don’t recognize already.

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This year, I ordered some Frixion stamps to use with the planners. My first impression is that they’re cute but maybe not optimal in combination with Tomoe River paper… Review pending.

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.

Christmas approaches…

As with most global chains (and pencil companies!), interesting variations in marketing strategies seem to exist across the countries that Starbucks operates in. In Korea this holiday season, they are apparently selling Starbucks Planners for 2015, produced in partnership with Moleskine. Here, in Canada, they sell adorable Christmas tree ornaments in the shape of the iconic paper and plastic cups.

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Come to think of it, it is exactly twenty years since I had my first frappuccino. And learned words like latte and venti. I don’t really go there anymore because, well, I guess I’ve moved on, but I have fond memories of the heady excitement back then :)

The Art of Packaging

Yesterday I received perhaps the most tastefully packaged online order ever.

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It’s almost seven years since I left Japan, and I had forgotten that this kind of art was still possible. No scuffed brown cardboard, no Scotch tape, no bubble wrap, but everything still pristine and crease-free. It almost feels as if you picked it up yourself in a shop.

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These are color pencils designed to fit within the covers of the Hobonichi Techo. Death by cuteness!