It’s probably no surprise to regular readers of this or previous incarnation of the blog that after watching literally dozens of unboxing videos, I went and ordered my won Hobonichi planner.
I was due to be in Tokyo last month, but of course COVID-19 meant that had to be cancelled. A Hobonichi was on my shopping list, so after I realised it might be next March before I’m there again, I bought one on Amazon. But of course, I’d much preferred to have bought this in Loft in Shibuya!
I opted for the A5 (“Cousin”) version, which has a page per day set-up. But it also has an annual view, an annual-per-month, a monthly view and a weekly view. Yes, it’s quite the chunky monkey and reminds me of how many people set up their bullet journals.
But why am I, a self-avowed digital planner, using a paper planner like this? Because it’s primarily for journaling and really only for my personal – rather than professional – focus. I enjoy reflective journaling about my experiences and the Hobonichi layout is perfect for a page of thoughts per day.
The fact that it’s laid out in advance is a time-saver. I’d rather spend more time writing and less time laying out in a blank notebook, if I’m honest.
I’d be lying if I didn’t note that the Japanese origin and style of the planner is also attractive!
I took a few photos of the planner when I first opened it up. Here are the various layouts it includes:
This weekly layout is great. Each day get the same amount of space across two pages, plus there’s a mini calendar and space for additional notes to the left. And the timing for each day goes from 5am through to 4am the next day, so you could easily use some of that space for notes or tasks if you’re more of a 9-to-5 person.
The monthly layout is also very nice. Space to note the most important event on each day, plus a grid to ensure you can fit as much in as possible.
Here’s a photo of the day layout, which is my absolute favourite. A lovely big page with endless possibilities. A task list at the top – for top priorities, maybe? – a miniature timeline on the left and a nice big grid that you can carve up in any way that suits your life.
As you can see from the above photo, I have my Hobonichi in a leather case. It’s the A5 folio from Bellroy that I’ve had for quite some time. As the Hobonichi is a perfect A5 size, it will fit in several different covers I own – no need to spend money on the very expensive covers they sell in Japan.
Isn’t April a little late to be buying a planner?
Usually, I’d agree with this. But Hobonichi make a ‘Spring’ version that goes from April to the following March. So the timing is perfect, even if I’ve missed out quite a bit of April already. That paper won’t go to waste though – I’m planning on using the daily pages for Bullet Journal-style lists.
The quality of the paper
It’s quite hard to convey in text, but the quality of this paper is astounding. It feels very thin and light to the touch, but can take a beating from every pen I’ve tried. I primarily write with Muji gel pens and they work great with no bleed through to the other side. Highlighters, too – no problem.
I think, more than anything else, the quality of this paper is what makes the price worthwhile. Yes, you can buy much cheaper notebooks and planners, but ink will bleed through or smudge. This paper seems indestructible!
My first week
So what have I done with this massive chunky planner so far?
I’ve done a few daily journal entries, noting what happened, how I feel about it and what I plan to do (where possible). The daily pages have also included what I’ve been watching on TV and the meals I’ve enjoyed. Basically, I’d like to be able to look back a year from now and re-experience a lot of 2020 (but in a good way!).
The week view is excellent. I’ve used it to list the few ‘top top’ priorities for the week and used highlighters to simply mark up how I intend to spend my time. This isn’t about perfectly replicating my online calendar, which would be a waste of my time. But dividing the week into work/non work and flagging the most important moments.
I haven’t done anything with the monthly spread just yet. Going forward, I was thinking it could be used to note the happiest or most enjoyable experience from each day. So less a plan for the month, but a record of nice things I’d like to experience.
Also, each month starts with an ‘introduction page’ in the page-per-day section. This is an undated page to start the month and includes a Japanese proverb or motivational quote (which I’ll have to translate!). I was thinking of using these pages to track my various important habits and log wellbeing information. Again, an import from the world of Bullet Journaling.
I’m very pleased with the Hobonichi so far. And while I won’t be turning it into a work of art like may of the YouTube videos I’ve seen, it will serve my purposes just fine. It’s not for public sharing and so doesn’t have to look pretty.
I’ll probably write another review once I’ve had a few weeks of use under my belt. But in the meantime, if you have questions, just drop them in the comments section below!