Video of illustrators drawing in the Hobonichi Techo day planner


The Hobonichi Techo is available now in English - I preordered mine in September and it showed up a week or two ago, straight from Japan. It is quite a charming little book - I look forward to getting started in it when it “goes live” in December.

P.S. Link to the English version, 2500 yen + shipping:

Are these adorable illustrations more adorable for being in a hipster date book? Or would any scrap of paper suffice?

So…it’s a notebook with dates on it. Umm…I don’t get it.

As near as I can figure from the articles, the merits of the book itself, and not any cultural phenomenon that grew up around it are:
0) handwritten/human-read (some consider it a merit, some a demerit, some a “don’t care”)

  1. graph paper instead of lines or blank paper
  2. an entire year (it looks like 1 page per day) in one book. Can be used as a datebook, bu doesn’t have to be.
  3. nice binding

I do like graph paper. I do think it’s much more handy than the alternatives, and allows for clean text, lines, tables, drawings, etc. I find it also makes indentation and formatting more repeatable, so you can develop your own layout for a page that makes certain things jump out at you upon review without needing to resort to an * ALL CAPS, TWICE THE SIZE * – IMPORTANT! style of note-taking.

Still, I think the graph paper may have a broader appeal the Japanese than others. I think using the Latin alphabet means that you’ll get less out of the same space than your Japanese counterpart. Having one-page a day is also probably too little for some work, too much for others. I tend to go through a 100-sheet, 5-squres-per-inch composition books in about 2.5 months of light note-taking, so I’m having trouble imagine shrinking things down into a single book.

EDIT: angle brackets, arrows, and exclamation points are a prime example of what not to use to markup things if you don’t want it to look like HTML and get it tossed out upon validation. Changed my example so it’s just annoying caps instead of annoying caps + symbols.

i bought one and it shipped out to me about two weeks ago as well. it’s really nice and the paper seems like it will be able to stand up to things like water colors… but for that, the book is remarkably slender. i’ve looked at other notebooks and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that can squeeze in 200+ pages in a form factor so compact.


the leather cover that they’re pushing for the western markets looks nice but it’s ridiculously expensive… i believe it was around $200! so no thanks. the planner itself is $25 (conversion to dollars - basically lob the last two digits off the number in yen). i got a black nylon cover (the nylon covered ones are featured in the video above and they’re sold under “japanese covers” and it was only $17! i love the pen loops that serve as a “lock” when a pen is pushed through both.

so the prices so far $25 + $17 not bad at all. but the killer is shipping. no free amazon style shipping. it’s another $20 to ship to the states. GAH! not cool. really wish they had an american distributor.

as a planner, it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense in this digital world. i plan to use it as a notebook/journal. the 1 day per page will end up being disregarded as i write more or less per day, according to whim.

as for why paper journals?

  • faster. srsly, grabbing your pen and scribbling something down is much faster than pecking something out with a soft keyboard. heck, it’s probably faster than getting your note taking app to launch. also, later when you want to look back at previous entries, nothing is quite as fast as the random access of flipping pages. the ease and openness of having your thoughts on pages really opens you up to looking through it and not dreading the slowness of opening up a previous document. i really wanted to like taking notes on my iOS and android devices and i’ve tried a variety of apps that were custom built to provide this kind of experience… and i still do take notes digitally using dropbox as a universal repository whether i’m on pc, iphone or android tablet. but yeah, not as fast and friendly as paper and pen… and heck… not has fast and friendly as my handspring(palm pilot compatible) with graffiti 1… (dang i miss that tech!).

so it might strike some as “hipster” and that’s fine. but there’s real functionality to be had here. it’s not just for the retro chic set.

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It has to be a hipster date book, not just any scrap of paper. They’re selling you the concept of being the kind of person who writes delicate little notes in a book that no-one else understands, which is how they justify the enormous prices of the Hobonichi Tech - you’re exclusive and individual, after all, and the proles won’t understand how unique and interesting you are, that’s why you need the Hobonichi Techo to make your fascinating little hipster observations in…

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From the description: “Several features of the original planner have been maintained in the English version, including the one-page-per-day design, lay-flat binding and daily quotes”

Daily quotes… Oh no; how can they?

I agree about the lookup sometimes being faster. It depends on your personal style of note-taking though. I found that when I had to draw a nice big diagram, it tended to be easier to find on a single-flip through. I also I tended to remember other things from that day as being associated with it, just because the diagram was in view while I was writing notes on unrelated things. It got to the point where I just put in a large doodle every few days if I hadn’t drawn anything in a while.

I actually already bought and received 2 of them (just the basic book with no fancy cover etc.) - I will be giving one away as a gift and keeping one. I sure don’t consider myself a hipster, but I did live in Japan for awhile and have some nostalgia for that… It’s actually a really nice well designed book (in an elegant Japanese sort of way) for a number of reasons but I won’t try to become a salesman for it. Maybe there’s similar books for a lot cheaper but I’m not so sure - either way I have no regrets (or hipster self consciousness) about it

They have plenty of examples of the planner on their site and elsewhere. If i were a real hardass about having a cheap planner with a japanese layout why not just emulate their layout and make your own? I can’t see what’s more hipster than that.

GUYS… * Artisanal day planners.*

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why not you ask ? in my case I calculated that it would be worth hiring someone else to do it (for example the Hobonichi folks would do : ) However, I have been thinking lately about making a series of nice paper lanterns myself… because I will enjoy that more than trying to make my own notebook

25 bucks is the cheapest day planner I’ve seen with a day for each year though. Seems less expensive.
However… I made my own in good old fashioned Excel (is that retro yet?). I probably am spending more than 25 in printing them, but whatever.
I stick them in a pretty leather three ring binder that some one gave me 15 or so years ago as an address book.

I also keep regular schedules, appointments, that kind of stuff in there. I use my phone calendar for most things, but I find it’s helpful to have a physical page to look at some times… and for meetings it’s just a bit easier to write at times. This is particularly true if the meeting is being held on the phone you’d be taking the notes with.

Also I can stick pages in page protectors and use white board markers… ah… now that’s cheaper. You don’t even have to reprint the page to update something.

I guess what I am saying is that while I don’t feel a burning urge to buy this, I can see why people would like it.

Trivia: BoingBoing’s last article on this day planner says that it was created by Shigesato Itoi, who also created the Super Nintendo cult hit “Earthbound.”

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