My name is April and I’m a Hobonichi addict.
As an avid user of the Hobonichi brand since 2014, I can’t help but take this time of the year (the time of frenzy when everyone’s ordering the new releases and getting their planner plans in a row) to think about this techo and appreciate what it means to me all these years. Here are the 13 big reasons why I loved using since I fell head over heels into this rabbit hole, and why I’ll continue to use it for the foreseeable future.
1. It’s the perfect playground for my daily stories
I grew up using schedulers/planners/journals, whatever you called them in your culture. I’ve blown through the flowery phase where all my book’s pages are filled with cartoon characters, to more nicely illustrated planners that are formatted with weekly pages. To be honest, when I first was gifted a Hobonichi Techo (the original size) by my aunt in 2012, I thought this boring, white, blank planner is the book that’s going to propel me into the adulting world with work notes and meeting schedules…how wrong was I!
Today, I don’t use my Hobonichi as a planner, but instead, I use it as a journal where I record my daily events—the people I talked to, the things I did, the food I ate, the feelings I felt, and more much. Furthermore, the blank canvas that is a Hobonichi page allows me the freedom to record my stories in whatever ways I want! Whether it’s through a doodle, a patiently lettered quote, or simply, a cute sticker,
2. The perfect paper for all my favorite pens
How does a notebook like a Hobonichi Techo hold 365 individual pages and manage to stay some nimble and portable? The team that designed it needed to balance the fine line of thin paper but durable enough for the everyday wear.
You might have heard of the Tomoe River Paper, it’s a special Japanese paper that is ultra-lightweight but surprisingly tough against most inks you can think of. This is why most fountain pen enthusiasts flock to this paper because of its unique surface that could handle ink and in many cases showcase the beautiful sheen of a fountain pen handwriting. I always feel confident writing in a Hobonichi Techo, using my favorite pens—Uni-ball Signo, Pilot Coleto, Zebra Mildliners, Sailor Shikiori brush pens, Kuretake fudegokochi brush, Twsbi Eco, and many many more.
3. It is flexible and holds a ton of stationery
My Hobonichi gets extremely chunky at the end of each year. This is a testament to the strength of the binding and the paper. I stuff postcards, small pieces of memorabilia from everyday life, and sometimes even photos into the pages. I use a ton of stationery like washi tape, stickers, stamps, brush pens, and even watercolor to illustrate my daily journaling. Some days the pages will be heavily collaged and layered, but some days a simple quote and a sticker will suffice. I love flipping through the pages at the end of the year, satisfied that I’ve put my beautiful stationery items to good use, and they are all in one place.
4. It comes with whimsical/inspirational quotes
Sometimes you don’t need your planner to constantly tell you to “Keep dreaming”, “The best is yet to come”, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” My life is hectic enough, I don’t necessarily want to read more inspiration quotes when I just want to wind down and relax at my empty page. A whimsical quote that comes from Hobonichi’s daily column will make me smile.
Hobonichi starts out as a media company. The daily quotes all come for different pieces of articles or thoughtful words from all walks of life. I don’t think they are meant to be inspirational or motivational. They are simply snippets of life that may resonate with you someday or another. This is why I think the Hobonichi Techo differs from other planners.
“My husband and I were walking our dog when we were approached by another dog and its owner. Hoping our dog would be sociable, I said, “Say ‘Hi’!” “Hi!” said my husband”
– “Today’s Husband”, a quote on January 24, 2019, of my Hobonichi English Planner
5. You can choose a size that fits your need
The Hobonichi techo comes in a variety of size, but not TOO many that you’ll get overwhelmed—the original (A6), the Cousin (A5), the Weeks (a slim portable pocket size), and the 5-Year techos (where the date span five years).
This year, the brand came out with even more flexibility and variation to the design of its booklets. Not only can you get a techo in Avec form (which splits the year into half), there is now a Day-free version that comes un-dated. You can also choose to buy it’s branded Plain Notebooks that allows free-form usage on its high-quality paper and grid design.
I carry my A6 techo everywhere because of its portable size, and I’ll do the same with my Weeks that I’ve just begun using. I tend to leave my Cousin Avec techos at home, it’s presence a solid and comforting sight on my desk every night.
6. Innovation in new covers and designs each year
I’d like to say that Hobonichi is all about the journal and how you use the book, but I’ll be honest—picking a cover each year is half the fun! Around September, Hobonichi will unleash a large collection of brand new designs for us to fawn over. From famous textile artist Mina Perhonen to simple color combinations, the new releases always spark a ton of discussion and gushing on forums and online communities. Although they may be pricey, the covers are what makes Hobonichi distinctive, especially the signature butterfly closure design. The interior covers and pockets also allow you to bring some small stationery accessories on the go!
I’m VERY VERY into the Tokyo Tower silk and tie design for the Weeks, as well as the Wood bird Mina Perhonen zip covers this year. Which ones are your favorite?
7. It’s dated, so it keeps me accountable
What really got me hooked about the Hobonichi Techo is the “a-day-a-page” design. The name Hobonichi means “almost everyday” in Japanese. Together, this play on word is almost a mission itself—to get you to form a habit of writing in the techo daily, the best you can.
The daily pages kept me accountable about my life—the good AND the bad. At the end of the day, it will all make it into the page as either a few short sentences or a long rant. It’s easy to be lazy and skip a few days or two, but the blank pages will always call me back to fill it up.
8. I can record quotes that speak to me
Hobonichi Techo is not the only one who supplies all the quotes. Every day, I come across sayings or quotes on social media feeds that are relatable or inspiring. Instead of giving it “like” or “heart” and then moving on, I quickly write it down in my techo, confident that this is the place of resource that I can always reference again and again.
Some days, as I flip through my old techos, THAT particular quote will spring back into my conscious and I might process it in another whole different way. That’s the magic of writing things down and letting time do some filtering and processing…you never know what insights might come about!
9. A place to create art AND collect art
A lot of talented Hobonichi users use the techo as an art journal or a place to collage a beautiful layout. I wish I’m half as artistic and can create consistent layouts and looks for my Hobonichi. Just like me, my techo evolves in style as I grow and become interested in different things. I use tip-ins to store cards or illustrations that inspire me. I also take comfort in knowing that there is a small blank canvas waiting for me each day to create MY art—whimsical doodles and drawings that doesn’t have to mean anything.
10. I love the Culture and Arts behind this Japanese brand
The Hobonichi brand to this day source products and materials from local businesses. They work with different artists and brands because they know that these unique people should be recognized more. I also love that the techo brings to my life a little snippet of Asian culture that I admire—the subtle design that demonstrates the considerations for a user’s convenience, the Japanese quotes at the end of the page, and the fun cultural freebies that you get as a thank you gift.
If you have time, I would recommend reading the fun articles where the Hobonichi team interviews and highlight special artists and authors that they collaborate with. It really showcases the diversity of professions and the same passion that is poured into the making of this notebook.
11. It gives me the joy of carrying around a special book, MY special book
I know you feel that way too. A slight smug feeling each time you pull out your Hobonichi techo or Weeks at a cafe where other people’s heads are buried into a laptop or their phones. The Hobonichi allows me to embrace the old-school way of putting pen to paper, the analog way of creating things from nothing to something.
Writing in a journal also makes me feel happy. Each sentence, each page, makes up a special autobiography. This is the slowed-down version of myself in a seemingly frantic, fast-paced life we live in.
12. Hobonichi has allowed me to find a community
I have so many stories where I’ve bonded and got to know A LOT of my internet friends really well through our mutual love of Hobonichi. Esther, a talented artist, and host of NHK’s spanish radio first reached out me with a question about what watercolor I use on my Hobonichi. Three months later, I’m visiting Japan and boldly accepted her invitation to stay at her place during my trip. We’ve never seen or talked to each other in person before—it was with a leap of faith! And the trust that no one who likes Hobonichi is a bad person.
Today, I help moderate one of the biggest Hobonichi users community on Facebook and continued to be inspired and surprised at the conversations and creativity that goes on there. I host meetups, had stationery gatherings, and even spoke at a Hobonichi workshop in 2018. Thanks to the Hobonichi Techo, I’m an introvert that made friends all over the world.
13. The Hobonichi collects my memories over time
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time remembering what I had for breakfast three days ago if I don’t think about it intentionally. Sometimes, time flies and it is so easy to forget events, things, people, big or small. Before I started journaling with the Hobonichi Techo, I always had a feeling that I spend so many days just existing, with nothing solid to look back on.
The reason I started using the Hobonichi in the first place, was to make a record of my life during the busiest years of my 20s. I knew days might go by in a blur, but by flipping through my journals, I can easily recall the jokes, the stories, the memorable events that had brought so much joy to my life. Today I’m the proud owner of 6 filled Hobonichi Techos since 2014. I can’t wait to write on the next page.