As an avid stationery geek, it is natural for me to own several notebooks and drawing pads, the number increasing as new items catches my eye from time to time. Near the end of last year, the search for the perfect planner/journal gets intense, as it will determine how I start my journaling for the new year.
I’m lucky to be living in Taiwan, where there is a lively trend of creative journaling. Stationery products such as washi tapes, stickers, journals, planners, and pen items flourish and can be bough in plenty of stationery shops all over the country. We are also heavily influenced by Japanese culture, where writing things down and decorating artistically is very popular in their journaling habits.
As of 2015, I will be using three main journals as my creative outlet: Hobonichi A6 Techo, Hobonichi Techo Cousin, and Midori Traveler’s Notebook
HOBONICHI Techo English Planner
The famous Hobonichi Techo is one of the most popular item for a typical stationery lover. It comes in a portable size in A6 that condenses a day per page of the year into a booklet using high quality Tomoe River paper. Its inner pages include monthly outlooks, daily pages in light grid, and yearly calendars. The original founder of the Hobonichi Techno intended the booklet to be a keeper of information and things that you can look back on throughout the year.
The first time I’ve used a Hobonichi Techo was back in 2010, during the busiest time of my university years. I used the A6 Hobonichi Techo in a schedule-like manner, which means it was full of to-do list, meeting minutes, event markers, and random scribbles. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate and utilise the quality paper of a Hobonichi, and I didn’t use it to write down thoughts anyway. In between that period of time and last year, I’ve used different planners on and off, such as MUJI blank calendars, Korean style cute planners, and Taiwanese brand Flowerthief.
However, now that I’ve matured in my appreciation of good quality pen, art supplies, and paper, I welcomed the Hobonichi Techo back with open arms. This year I chose to use the English Planner, which translates the daily quotes at the bottom of the pages into English. Isn’t it fun to sometimes read the quotes and few a small burst of inspiration daily.
One of the attractions of a Hobonichi Techo are the variety of beautiful covers you can choose from its online shop. There are many talented artisans online that create custom leather covers as well. In the spirit of re-use and recycling, I received one of the “vintage” covers from the line-up in 2010 from my aunt (She’s also an avid Hobonichi user, which she use as planner for her business and career). It’s a black and white Houndtooth Check pattern in nylon material. My aunt had used it with a clear cover on cover, so it was still in mint condition when passed on to me.
I mainly use this english Hobonichi Techo as a daily art journal. The Taiwanese stationery community love to decorate and border each page with beautiful washi tapes, and then writing daily journal entries in the space created. Although I do own a lot of washi tape that can serve this purpose, I was really inspired by the Hobonichi User community in Facebook, and how everyone freely paint and illustrate on the pages. The tomoe river paper carries ink and water-colour amazingly well, and what better way to put color into my daily events and adventures!
I really appreciate having grid pages to guide my tipsy handwriting (embarrassingly, in both English and Chinese). The English Planner has larger grids than the Japanese version, but I still need to use two lines to make my Chinese letters fit. I still wonder at how some Taiwanese can squeeze their writing into individual rows on the Japanese Techo.
HOBONICHI Techo Cousin
The Cousin size of the Hobonichi Techo comes in an A5 size. I made the decision to purchase it after I’ve started using the A6 size for three months, just to test out the paper and see if the system suits me. I soon discover that the A6 size is too small for more in-depth journaling. I also wanted to have a consolidated location for my common-place book, a place to put in this and that which I find interesting. Thus, I joined the Spring Cousin bandwagon and purchased the Cousin size techo from the Hobonichi Wesbsite.
(Putting in a workout index as a common place notebook)
I really like the vertical layout of the weekly outlook in the cousin. It now serves as a health planner where I keep a food diary, my exercise routines, and health-related notes. The monthly layout became a stay at home schedule for important dates related to my online activities and personal habits.
Some people may be pressured by the daily pages, because if you didn’t update it vigorously, you feel the need to do catch up. In my case, I use the monthly outlook as index for whatever I write in the daily pages. This way, I don’t necessarily need to be mindful of the exact date when I write my entry. I’m free to extend onto multiple pages when my journal ramblings get too long.
Midori Traveler’s Notebook (MTN)
I bought my first Traveler’s Notebook (TN for short) when I graduated University. I thought that I would carry it with me back to Thailand as I begin my first job there. I could document my weekend explorations and put in illustrations. However, work overwhelmed me and I never got to play with the notebook until the beginning of 2014, when I come back to Taiwan. I finally put it to good use throughout the whole of last year, filling two inserts with stamps, museum and exhibition tickets, and name cards of interesting cafes and shops.
I love the soft but firm texture of the leather of a TN. It is very portable, and could even be considered an outfit accessory when you hold it in public. So far, I’ve been using it freestyle, trying to not be limited by lines, grids, or dates. It’s perfect for stamp collection, especially when traveling to countries such as Japan, which has custom made stamps at almost every tourist spot. Taiwan is catching up in that cultural department, and it’s very easy to find original stamps all around Taipei’s cafe and weekend markets.
I understand my inner stationery geek, and that I would love to own and use more inserts than I need. Thus, I’m trying to keep it simple this year, and just have these three journals as a creative outlet of my daily adventures. I hope to fill them out diligently, and totally looking forward to see how tall a stack they could be by the end of the year!
(The MUJI Schedule Planner is secretly stuck in the middle of the stack. I’ll introduce that in a later post)