Six Months With a Hobonichi Techo

The Hobonichi Techo is not an economical notebook. It’s a luxury item. If you live in the US, one of them will cost you $33.50. It’s a good thing my tastes don’t include expensive pens, or else my stationery budget wouldn’t have any room for it.

I’m bringing up the Hobonichi’s price now because I want you to have all the bad news up front, before I go on to tell you what an awesome little notebook it’s turned out to be for me, and how much I’ve enjoyed my first six months with one.

The Hobonichi Techo is the little notebook with a cult following, and plenty of words have already been written about it. (Go on, search for “hobonichi review.” I’ll see you next week.) With that in mind, I wanted to share how I use mine on a daily basis. So this is not a review, but rather a statement of what works for me.

For the uninitiated, the Hobonichi Techo is an A6 size notebook, made in Japan, that’s filled with 450 pages of sweet, sweet Tomoe River paper. Its general format is that of a page-a-day planner, plus some specially formatted pages at the beginning and end of the book. While you can order a Hobonichi directly from Japan, as a US resident, the best price I’ve found is at JetPens (the aforementioned $33.50 with free shipping.)

I must admit that I didn’t buy a Hobonichi to use it as a daily planner. At the time I discovered the Hobonichi Techo, I was looking for motivation to write a little every day, and I wanted a small notebook filled with Tomoe River paper. The Hobonichi seemed like a good fit despite its price. So I bit the bullet and ordered one, and like an expensive gym membership, knowing this thing cost me THIRTY-FOUR DOLLARS has proved to be just the push I needed.

After six months, the result is a hybrid diary/commonplace book/bullet journal that’s been a joy to use. I find the A6 size perfect for a notebook I’m carrying to work every day, and despite all the travel in my bag it’s held up pretty well — though I’m careful with my notebook since I don’t have a cover for it (yet!)

I’ve been fairly successful at writing in my Hobonichi every day. Sometimes I miss a few days, but I don’t beat myself up over it. I just start up again where I left off. Most of my entries end up containing personal observations and musings, so they’re not really shareable or photo worthy. However, I also use my Hobonichi to copy down quotes and passages that move me, and I stick interesting little scraps of ephemera on pages here and there. If you’re intimidated by the “scrapbooky” presentations in the #hobonichi tags on your favorite photo sharing site, please know that you can still get plenty of enjoyment out of a Hobonichi without any artistic talent.

Using a fountain pen to write in a Hobonichi is pure decadence. It’s the primary way this notebook bewitches you into wanting to use it more. (As long as you’re a fan of Tomoe River paper, that is.) I like to mix up the pens and inks I use with my Hobonichi, and in some ways the selection is a reflection of my mood, dutifully captured day by day.

I’ve also incorporated some bullet journal-style task tracking in my notebook. While I keep my master schedule electronically on my phone, I’ve found it handy to jot down to-do items and certain events in my Hobonichi. I put these at the bottom of the page, working upwards as new items are added.

The pages are small, but they’re the right size for the amount of writing I want to be doing in this notebook. It enforces brevity.

As for the various specially-formatted pages included with the Hobonichi, the ones I use regularly are the yearly index, the monthly calendars, and the “Coming Up” pages.

The yearly index pages are perfect for habit tracking.

Careful observers will note some ink bleed-through in the March header. That was the result of using a poorly-tuned fountain pen that was dumping excessive amounts of ink. Tomoe River paper can take a lot of punishment, but this obviously pushed it to its limits. Other than this incident, I’ve not experienced any bleed-through issues.

As I said before, I keep my schedule electronically, but I make use of the monthly calendar pages to track the ridiculous number of softball teams I play on. My phone calendar tracks everything, but my Hobonichi has all the fun stuff at a glance.

It took me a few months to figure out what to do with the “Coming Up” pages that appear before the first day of each month. I settled on using them to track the arrival of incoming packages.

I may have purchased my Hobonichi through gritted teeth (seriously, it’s 34 freakin’ dollars!), but when I flip back through its pages with the satisfaction of having stuck with a daily journal for the first time in my life, the price doesn’t sting as badly.

And yes, I’ve already set aside funds for the 2018 edition.

8 thoughts on “Six Months With a Hobonichi Techo

  1. Laura June 8, 2017 / 6:36 pm

    You’re really using it a lot! That’s great! Great post, too.

    I too bought one this year, mostly because so many people love it. 🙂 I really wrestled with the cost, too. In the end, it doesn’t really fit me. I do like it, but I haven’t really found myself using it enough.

    That’s not the Hobo’s fault. 🙂 I knew going in it probably wouldn’t work for me. I already had a different system: Apple Calendar + bullet journal notebook when needed + Field Notes and Evernote for everything else. The truth is, no paper planner or appointment book with a day/date format suits me. Some days I have too much to fit, and some days I have hardly anything, and often I am writing down notes that are general and not related to a specific day. So I prefer a free-form system: a notebook or memo book with blank pages that I can fill in as I need and organize non-chronologically.

    Liked by 1 person

    • economicalpenster June 9, 2017 / 9:22 am

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my stationery wanderings, it’s that everyone works in a different way. (It’s also why I take issue with traditional notebook “reviews” being presented as gospel — notebook usage is so, so subjective!)

      I have a Traveler’s Notebook also, and I love love love the cover and the whole “idea” of it, but I’m stuck on the blank pages! At least I can play around with different inserts…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. chantgirl June 9, 2017 / 8:10 am

    Good job on keeping a daily journal. Something I have yet to do! Color me impressed!
    Love the whole post but especially love your personal observations and commentary that you’ve written down. 👍😂


  3. pharaonis June 21, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    The way you use your Hobonichi is really interesting! I’m not really one for habit tracking, but I really should start doing it. The gridded section is really helpful! I personally don’t use a Hobonichi, as I found the Nanami Paper Seven Seas journals to be better in terms of price. But I’m the same as you: the price of the notebook (~$24, definitely nothing to sneeze at) is exactly what I needed to get myself to journal!

    Liked by 2 people

    • economicalpenster June 21, 2017 / 1:03 pm

      The Seven Seas notebooks are wonderful! They have the best page/price ratio for TR paper I’ve seen thus far. I have a Standard (which turned out to be a mistake because I just can’t handle blank pages on such nice paper.) I need more structure. That said, I’m not thrilled with the current layout of the Crossfield and I long for a plain grid or the original V1 cross grid. I also want to try a Cafe note but those sold out in a hot second.

      If Nanami Paper starts making a grid version of the Cafe note, it might give the Hobonichi a run for its money as my daily journal.

      Thanks for stopping by!


      • pharaonis June 30, 2017 / 12:06 am

        Yeah, I was super bummed out about the Crossfield too! I really wish Nanami had more of an internet presence, or even just a blog on their website, as I would really prefer to know in advance if they make major changes to their notebooks (the description for the Crossfield suggests that the Standard will make a switch to white paper?) just in case I would want to stock up through the next run. I’m lucky that I prefer the Standards and that the only major change that could feasibly happen is the change in paper color, but still… it’s very frustrating!


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