A First Look at the Hobonichi 5-Year Techo

While launching this blog at the beginning of the year was a big moment for me, I must admit that starting (and keeping) a daily journal is what I’m most proud of. As the end of the year approaches, I’ve wondered about my soon-to-be-outdated journal. Will I ever pick it up to revisit its contents, or will it get tucked into my bookshelf, never to be seen again?

Those questions become moot with the Hobonichi 5-Year Techo. It’s an interesting riff on the daily journal concept that forces you to confront your past writings by putting them right there on the page. That’s right โ€” five years on a single page, in one notebook.

There are other journals that combine multiple years on one page, but the 5-Year Techo is the only one that’s size A6 and filled with Tomoe River paper. A new journal in my favorite size with my favorite paper? Sign. Me. Up.

I ordered my 5-Year Techo exactly three minutes after it became available on the Hobonichi Store, and I’m glad I did because these babies sold like hotcakes. The first printing sold out within a couple of days. There’s a second printing in the works, but those notebooks won’t ship until the end of January. (If you want one sooner than that, keep reading.)

The journal is packaged in a sturdy yellow box.

I’m always impressed by Hobonichi’s attention to detail.

Inside is a small instruction booklet. Alas, it’s in Japanese so I can’t read it.

There’s also a loose sheet of Tomoe River paper that looks like a stray page. I have no idea what it’s for, but it’s a good preview of the page layout used inside the journal.

The cover is a leather-looking plastic with the title embossed in gold. I’m assuming the text says something like “5-Year Techo” but due to my lack of Japanese language skills, it could say “you really smell like dog buns” and I’d be none the wiser.

The years are embossed on the spine, and you can see the ribs where the signatures are sewn together.

Speaking of binding, the journal is stitch-bound so it will lay flat when open. This mostly works except for the pages at the very beginning and end; the book is just too thick.

A slim brown bookmark is attached to the top of the binding. It’s long enough to slide around the edges of the cover, so it’s very usable.

The plastic outer cover is glued to an inner cover made of thick paper. The only manufacturing flaw I’ve found is that the outer cover is not perfectly aligned with the inner book, but it’s only noticeable with close inspection.

Unlike all the pre-matter in the Hobonichi Techo, this journal gets right down to business. The very first page is a full year view of the first year, 2018. Four similar pages follow for 2019 to 2022.

After those full-year pages is where the journal truly begins, with a page spread for January 1st.

Each day is given a two-page spread. The left page is a grid divided into five sections, one for each year. The right page is a grid with no formatting aside from a quote at the bottom. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Hobonichi brand, their notebooks always contain quotes from the web magazine Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun.)

The pages in this journal are a cream colored Tomoe River paper with grey printing. The grid is 3.7mm square.

There are two types of people in the world: those who are reading this and saying HOLY CATS THOSE DAY SPACES ARE SMALL, and those who are asking BUT WHAT ABOUT LEAP DAYS?

Calendar sticklers can breathe easy โ€” the 5-Year Techo handles the leap day on February 29, 2020 by adding a page spread specifically for that date. Instead of five spaces on the left, there’s only one marked “2020”. Easy peasy.

As for the amount of writing room this journal provides, the short answer is “not much.” The page on the right makes a nice overflow area, but the spaces on the left are about an inch high. So Ulysses won’t fit in this journal and I’m pretty sure James Joyce had coughs longer than the space you’re given for a single day. Consider this journal a 5-year exercise in brevity.

That’s about all there is to the Hobonichi 5-Year Techo, aside from a few pages of back matter: some grid pages for each year, a page for reminders, a couple of pages for list making, and a brief timeline of world history from the Japanese perspective. (How I wish I could read that.)

There are 752 pages crammed into this tiny tome and that gives it some heft. It feels like an important object in the hand, and it would look just as good on a coffee shop table for your Instagram (#flatlay) as it would on your desk. I mention this because a 5-Year Techo certainly doesn’t come cheap: it’s about $36 without shipping and handling, and north of $50 with all the fees totaled up.

If you’ve read this far and you really want one of these but don’t want to wait until after January to get it, I have two extra 5-Year Techos available for $46 shipped to the US. Both are in brand-new, unopened condition and I’m selling them at cost. (Both have been SOLD, thanks.)

I’m super excited about this journal. I intend to use mine to record a brief summary of my day, and if I stick with it, I’ll see my life changing day by day, year by year, in one tiny but mighty book.

This Hobonichi 5-Year Techo was paid for with my own funds. My opinions on this blog are always my own. Please see my review ethics statement for more details.

9 thoughts on “A First Look at the Hobonichi 5-Year Techo

  1. independentclause December 12, 2017 / 10:56 am

    It’s gorgeous. I find the idea of knowing what you wrote a year ago today both compelling and vaguely terrifying. I guess if you’re just saying, “I had a great chocolate chip muffin this morning,” then all is well. But what about, “Today I broke great grand-mama’s second favorite teacup and have been disowned” or other similar tragedies?

    On the third hand, because I am secretly an octopus, it’s a good way to mark weather, climate change, and the rise of totalitarianism. (I’m still pissed off about Drew freaking Magary.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. rupertarzeian December 12, 2017 / 11:37 am

    A great review. Since you already have the habit of journaling, it is a great way to record just key points or thoughts of your day. As the years go by the book becomes more interesting and useful…as an alibi and suchlike.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Stafford January 3, 2018 / 10:19 pm

    Just came across your site. Most interesting piece on the Hobonichi and how you have utilized it.

    Just ordered my first fountain pen in over 40 years last week. I think I was 10 or 12 years old when I last used one.

    Like you, any writing of mine in the last few decades has been digitally subsumed. So, I will be applying some WD-40 to my opposable thumbs, along with the remaining 8 writing appendages; all in order to start practicing my cursive endeavours once again. I will however be practicing on cheap bond, at least until such time when the acquisition of a premium tome such as the Hobonichi can be treated with the respect it deserves; (ie my writing actually becomes legible).

    Thank you once again. You have provided much needed impetus to see this venture through.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Stafford January 4, 2018 / 3:06 pm

        I believe I will be initially treading water; at least until I get my โ€œsea legsโ€ accustomed to physical writing again. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Interestingly enough, after a dedicated bit of research, I settled on the Pilot Metropolitan Fine Nib. I have read that this particular manufacturer has nib sizes somewhat smaller than standard, so we will see if I should have chosen a medium sized format. According to the Amazonian Elves, it is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Thanks also for the link to the paper review. Now that I have that in hand, that provided a more refined focus. I was going to use HP 24lb bond 95-98 bright white paper; my minimum default level of cheap paper used for printing.

        Having read the paper review, I now know that would have been a disappointing choice. Now I am leaning towards the reviewers personal favourites…

        The HP Laserjet 32 lb paper, or the Step Forward 21 lb paper from Staples.

        Much thanks again.


  4. CA January 11, 2018 / 12:21 pm

    The linked post about which papers to use was helpful! And, related to this actual post – kudos to people who have the discipline to write every day about their day! The notebooks are beautiful, I like the yellow box in particular.


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