Hobonichi Planner 2014 Review

Hobonichi Planner

Having abandoned my Cartier diary (as the refills have increased an unbelievable 60% in price) I began searching for a replacement and stumbled upon a thread on The Fountain Pen Network discussing diaries for 2014.  The one that seemed to peak everyone’s interest was the Hobonichi Planner featuring Tomoe River paper.  To my knowledge, 2014 is the first year that this planner has been released in English.  After doing more research and learning about the awesome layout I knew I had to have one.

Hobonichi Planner

The appearance of the planner is simple and elegant.  The cover is a thin flexible black leatherette with “Techo” (in Japanese) and three keys printed in silver.  Printed on the spine in silver is “HOBO” and “2014”.  I like the look of the black leatherette cover so much that I am tempted to use it without a case.  The planner measures 105mm wide x 149mm high x 14mm thick (that’s approximately 4.13″ wide  x 5.87″ high x o.55″ thick).  Pictured below is the spine with the book open.  Tomoe River paper is so thin that you can fit 464 pages + the cover into a 14mm dimension.  The planner lays flat thanks to its excellent construction.

Hobonichi Planner
For those interested in book making look at how many tiny signatures (folded sheets sewn together) there are!

Hobonichi Planner

The layout of the planner is quite nice.  You get a full page per day with 4mm grids.  Each page shows the current moon phase and every two page spread features a quote.  Most of the quotes are from Japanese cultural figures.

Hobonichi Planner
Up front you get full months spread across two pages.
1 month per column and a day per row.
1 month per column and a day per row.

For Sunday the print on the page is orange instead of the normal black/grey.  In the back of the planner there are several pages of blank orange dot grid followed by some reference pages (clothing sizes, international holidays and country codes) as well as informational pages like a sushi guide and a sake guide.  One thing that I would like to see in the Hobonichi is a color map of the world.

Sushi Guide...I particularly like the part on the top right pages that says "If you are having trouble ordering....Just point!"
Sushi Guide…I particularly like the part on the top right page that says “If you are having trouble ordering….Just point!”

The paper, as I have show in my review of a Tomoe River notebook , is simply amazing.  It holds fountain pen ink as well or better than any other paper I can think of.  It’s hard not to love this planner.  The Hobonichi planner is reasonably priced at 2,500 Yen (approx $24 USD) before shipping and handling.

Hobonichi Planner
No issues with bleeding or feathering…the only draw back to this paper is dry time.
Hobonichi Planner
There is show through but it is not something that would prevent you from writing on both sides of a page.

Naoko at Hobonichi Planner was kind enough to send me this planner free of charge for me to review.  Along with the planner she included a cover, a couple of stencils and a set of page flags.  The design of the cover to be honest, is not my cup of tea.  The polyester cover was designed by the children’s book illustrator Ryoji Arai.  The front features a bright red donkey against a sky blue cover and the spine and back cover has some doodles and pictures.  It’s a very interesting composition.  The inside of the cover is bright pink and has two neon green page makers with pink tips (one is a rectangle and the other is a triangle).

Hobonichi Planner
Hobonichi cover with a Montblanc 149 in the pen loops.

There is a pocket on the outside of the back cover which I have found to be handy for slipping in receipts as well as a Field Notes journal.  There are two large pen loops, one attached to the front of the cover and one attached to the back so that you can slip a pen into both loops to keep the notebook shut.  I was able to easily slide my Montblanc 149 into the loops which is good news if you like to use oversized pens.

Hobonichi Planner

On the inside of the front cover there are 5 card slots that fit the Hobonichi stencils perfectly. There is an additional pocket behind the card slots.

Hobonichi Planner

On the inside of the back cover there is a black tag that says “Hobonichi 2014” as well as two small pockets.

Hobonichi Planner

The retail price of this cover is 1,900 Yen (approx $18 USD).  This same cover in a plain solid color is 1,500 Yen (approx $14.50 USD) and in leather is 8,500 Yen (approx $81.50 USD).  The are several other cover designs that cost as much as 31,500 Yen (approx $302 USD).  The polyester cover is reasonably priced and and provides a lot of functionality.

The Hobonichi planner and covers can be purchased in English directly from Hobonichi here.

Hobonichi Planner

Please note: (as mentioned above) this product was provided to me at no charge by Hobonichi for review purposes.

Here are some great reviews of the Hobonichi Planner:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

Tiny Cartridge – Tiny Review: Hobonichi Techo 2013The Well-Appointed Desk – Review: Hobonichi Planner 2014

The Well-Appointed Desk – Review: Hobonichi Planner 2014

Cartier Cabochon Desk Diary Review

Cartier Cabochon desk diary

A few years ago I received this beautiful Cartier Desk diary as a gift.  It is appropriately called a desk diary as it is quite large at 10″ x 7.5 “.  The leather cover and thick pages also make it quite heavy.  Let’s start with the design; the cover features black leather calfskin with the double “C” Cartier logo embossed on the front cover.  Also on the front cover are two stainless steel corners for added durability.  On the inside is an attractive burgundy colored calfskin with two pockets to hold the diary refill and an address book.  There is also a nice leather page marker with a stainless double “C” Cartier charm.  Overall it has a very nice and clean masculine look to it.

Cartier Cabochon desk diary

Cartier Cabochon desk diary

Cartier Cabochon desk diary

The agenda refills feature seven days on two pages organized by lines for each half hour starting at 8am and ending at 9pm.  The weekends share a single column and get one line per hour.  This layout wont be that useful for everyone.  As someone that charges my clients by the hour, I used it to keep track of my time spent rather than as a pure appointment book.

Color map of the world...well most of it anyway.
Color map of the world…well most of it anyway

Cartier also lists these additional features (I put the most amusing ones in bold): “calendar of international holidays, world map and map of the European continent, flight times and time zones, area codes, useful telephone numbers, conversion tables, clothing and shoe sizes, gold and the most beautiful stones in the world, ratings for vintages, wedding anniversaries, addresses of Cartier boutiques.”  One of the things not listed is a country guide which has up to date information on 35 different countries: population size, the capital city, airport info, currency, and electrical information.

Cartier Cabochon desk diary
A diary wouldn’t be complete without an entire page on gold and an entire page on precious gems right?
Cartier Cabochon desk diary
Vintage (French) wine rating chart and Wedding anniversaries
Wine vintages guide and country guide.
Useful phone numbers and Country guide

The cream colored pages are very thick and feature a gilded edge.  The paper deals with fountain pen ink well and has perforated bottom corners with the double “C” Cartier logo that allow you to quickly jump to the current week.  One thing that I really don’t like about this diary is the inability for the refill to relax and lie flat (even with daily use).  I have to use a book weight to keep the darn thing open.

The thick pages work will with fountain pen ink.

Very little ghosting a bleed through.
Very little ghosting and no bleed through
Cariter Cabochon Desk Diary
Perforated page corners

Cartier Cabochon desk diary

Each year there is a different work of art featured on the first page of the refill and on the back page there is a little bio of the artist, for 2013, the artist was Patrick Vilaire.  The outside of the diary refill is burgundy, the same burgundy as the leather on the inside of the cover.  In prior years this has been black but it looks like 2014 is burgundy again.  You get a seperate address book with each refill.

For some years the picture is in color.  Guess they needed to save money this...recession and what not.
In previous years the picture was color. I guess they needed to save money this year…recession and what not.
Spine of the refill.
Spine of the refill
Address book.
Back of dairy refill and address book cover
Address book
Address book

New, the cover with agenda refill is $660, which isn’t terrible, but what is terrible is the price of the refills.  The 2012 refill cost me $60, the 2013 refill (which you see here) cost me $90 and the 2014 refill, which I have been simply priced out of, is $155!!! I have called and asked Cartier why these have gone up so much and they have no explanation…the refill is essentially unchanged yet worth $65 more.  While I have really enjoyed using this diary the real killer for me has become the price of the refill; I will need to find a notebook that I can use this lovely cover with.

Pilot Precise Rolling Ball Extra Fine Review

Pilot Precise Rolling Ball

The Pilot Precise Rolling Ball pen is the predecessor to the very popular Pilot Precise V5 (and V7) and has been one of my favorite roller balls for quite a while now. Compared to the V5, the Precise is more satisfying to write with; to me it provides the right combination of smoothness and feedback.

Pilot Precise Rolling Ball

The basic beige plastic body wont turn any heads but its understated looks really appeal to me.  The Precise features a durable tungsten carbide ball and stainless steel point as well as the same clip and overall shape of the V5.  Unlike the V5, it does not have an ink window or a visible feed.  You wont find the Precise in most office supply stores anymore but they can easily be bought online.  I still highly recommend this pen.

Pelikan Fine Leather Black Triple Pen Pouch Review

Pelikan 3 Pen Pouch

Up until now I have been carrying my larger and more expensive pens in single pen pouches.  I would carry two to three pouches at a time which was cumbersome; I finally broke down and bought a Pelikan 3 pen pouch.  I have been using a Pelikan Fine Leather Black Triple Pen Pouch every day for about a month now and I quite like it.  I spent a good amount of time looking for a quality case that really protects pens.  I had originally wanted a Montblanc pen pouch but after looking at it, I knew that it wasn’t right.  The main issue I found with the Montblanc case (apart from the $180 price tag) was the fact that the dividers stopped about halfway down the case; this in my opinion is a design flaw that would allow the bottom of the pens to knock into each other.  So after doing a bit more research I found that the Pelikan case would accommodate larger pens and had dividers that run the length of the case.

Pelikan 3 Pen Pouch

The Pelikan pouch is made out of a soft leather (softer than the Montblanc case) and comes in black with a green strap or black with a black strap.  Each case has the Pelikan logo embossed on the strap.  The leather is of good quality, however, it is not as nice as the leather Montblanc uses but for $35 the Pelikan case is of excellent quality.  I don’t know where the case is made but I cannot find any flaws in its construction; every thing is cleanly cut and sewn.  It’s clear that this case was carefully made.  The interior of the flap is leather and the inside of the case seems to be some sort of felt sort of felt.

Pelikan 3 Pen Pouch

Top to bottom: OMAS Ogiva, Montblanc 149, Aurora Optima
Top to bottom: OMAS Ogiva, Montblanc 149, Aurora Optima

Compared to the Montblanc case pens do fit a bit more snugly.  I can easily fit my Montblanc 149, 146, and Aurora Optima into the case but it is a tight fit.  If you want to fit three 149s the Pelikan case is not for you.  Also the top of the pens that the flap covers are not protected much on the side.  I carry my case in a backpack or briefcase without issue.

Pelikan 3 Pen Pouch

When the case has more normal sized pens in it the flap comes down further.
When the case has more normal sized pens in it the flap comes down further.

Overall I am really satisfied with this case and highly recommend it.

Pilot VBall BeGreen 0.5mm Blue Roller Ball Review

Pilot VBall BeGreen

The Pilot VBall BeGreen is a roller ball pen with a body made from “81.6% recycled content”.  First off, this isn’t the VBall I remember enjoying years ago; the design is much better but the pen as a whole is worse.

I really love the clean and elegant design of this pen; the inset metallic branding and the blue plastic cap combined with the translucent body and feed are excellent.  For a disposable pen the VBall BeGreen gets an A+ in design.

Pilot VBall BeGreen

As for writing, the VBall is quite scratchy.  I compared it to the Uni Ball Micro Deluxe (another traditional liquid ink roller ball) and the difference was night and day.  The Uni glided across the paper with more ease and left a cleaner line on the page.  As I spent more time with the Vball I noticed that some parts of the tip were smoother than others; by twisting I could find both smooth and scratchy parts of the tip which makes me think I may have gotten a bad one.

Pilot VBall BeGreen

I haven’t come across many duds that were made by Pilot in Japan but this might be one.

Here is a great review of the Pilot VBall BeGreen:

(I have no affiliation with the site linked below)

The Pen Addict – Pilot VBall BeGreeN 05 Review

Goulet Pen Company Ink Drop December 2013

Goulet Pen Company Ink Drop Dec 13

This month’s Goulet Pen Company Ink drop is a tribute to the creator of Private Reserve Ink, Terry Johnson.  This shipment contained eight inks from the same manufacturer instead of the usual five from various manufacturers.

My favorites this month are DC Supershow Blue and the Ebony Blue.  All of these inks have a lot of saturation.  The Ebony Blue is the most unique; it is a blue black with a bit of turquoise in it.

Ink Drop is a subscription service through The Goulet Pen Company (no affiliation) that consists of monthly shipments of 5 ink samples.  Each shipment is $10.

Midori World Meister’s Note Vol. 1 “Dainel” Notebook Review

Midori World Meister's Note Vol. 1 "Dainel"

The Midori World Meister’s Note series features collaborations between Japan and other countries.  The Dainel is the first in the series which Midori describes as ” A marriage of French leather paper and Japan’s MD paper, developed for the best writing comfort”.

Midori World Meister's Note Vol. 1 "Dainel"

The color of the cover is a bit more brown and less grey than the picture shows.
The color of the cover is a bit more brown and less grey than the picture shows.

Let’s start with the cover and then make our way inside.  The cover is made in France out of “French leather paper” and according to the packaging:

“[Dainel] stands for ‘suede’ in France.  In a town some 200 km east of the capital, Paris, 30 years of experience with suede work have created a one-of-a-kind technology unique in the whole world.  This unique technology has crystallized in this gorgeous leather paper.”

Midori World Meister's Note Vol. 1 "Dainel"

To me the cover looks a bit like suede but I was disappointed when I touched it; it feels like a mediocre felt.  The more I use the notebook the more I like the cover; it is a lot nicer than a paper cover but it certainly isn’t leather.  The cover has “Dainel” pressed into the front of the cover and “The World Meister’s Note” pressed into the spine.  This cover is the light brown color and I believe they come in four or five other colors.

Midori World Meister's Note Vol. 1 "Dainel"

This notebook is extremely well made and dare I say, better than anything else I have seen in its price range. The notebook is nicely stitched this notebook lays flat.

Midori World Meister's Note Vol. 1 "Dainel"

Midori World Meister's Note Vol. 1 "Dainel"

The inside of the notebook features 91 A5 pages of Midori’s exceptional cream colored MD paper which holds fountain pen ink beautifully.  There is no bleed through even with juicy pens and almost no feathering.

It's a 91 page notebook because the first page has this logo printed on it.
It’s a 91 page notebook because the first page has this logo printed on it.

Midori World Meister's Note Vol. 1 "Dainel"

No bleed through and minor ghosting.
No bleed through and minor ghosting.

At around $13 this notebook is not cheap but the combination of the quality and the branding make it a winner.  I look forward to getting my hands on the other notebooks in this series; I believe they are up to volume 3.

Field Notes Cold Horizon Edition Review

Field Notes Cold Horizon

Cold Horizon is the latest edition in Field Notes’ Colors series.  When the covers are lined up you can see a blue gradient.  The blue gradient is continued in the font on the inside of the front and back cover.

Font in blue gradient
Font in blue gradient

In the set each notebook features a different paper color, blue, green, and grey.  Each notebook has grey grids.

Top to bottom: grey, green, blue
Top to bottom: grey, green, blue

Overall, I love the design; it is clear that they really put some thought into these notebooks.

On to the bad:

The covers are unpleasant to touch; they have a bit of a grainy feel which seems odd on a glossy cover.  Most Field Notes are not considered fountain pen friendly and the Cold Horizon edition is no exception, in fact, the paper actually seems to resist fountain pen ink.

Notice the fountain pen ink resisting the paper.
Notice the paper resisting the fountain pen ink.
Bleed through
Bleed through

While I like the look of these Field Notes I don’t think I will be purchasing another set.

Field Notes Cold Horizon

Montblanc Leonardo da Vinci Red Chalk Fountain Pen Ink Review

Montblanc Red Chalk

Montblanc Red Chalk

The Montblanc Leonardo da Vinci Red Chalk is a limited edition ink that was introduced with the Montblanc da Vinci fountain pen.  The 30ml bottle is the same standard ink bottle I have seen with the other inks in the Montblanc “Great Characters” series.  The color is a nice reddish brown color that to me looks a bit like a darker version Noodler’s Antietam.  I have not see any issues with feathering or bleed through on the papers I have tested the ink with so far.  There is a good amount of shading and saturation so I am not sure why it’s called “Red Chalk”.  The flow is a little on the dry side but it’s not dry enough to prevent me from using the ink.  Dry time is about average and the ink is not waterproof.  Overall I really like this ink.  I am going to have to try and get another bottle before they sell out.

Montblanc Red Chalk

Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku Fountain Pen Ink Review

Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku

So first I want to start by saying that 50ml of this ink retails for $35 and can be had online for $28.  In my experience Pilot Iroshizuku inks are well behaved and have a satisfactory flow.  I am not certain however, that the consistent quality and beautiful bottle justify the price.  I have found that other inks half the price are as good or better in some cases.  My point: don’t think that for $35 you are going to get some kind of magical ink that is beyond the rest.  If you fall in love with one of the Iroshizuku colors, go for it you wont be disappointed.

On to Shin-ryoku:

This ink in my opinion is very close to J. Herbin Lierre de Sauvage (I would do a comparison but my bottle had mold in it so I threw it out *harumph*).  The translation of the name is “forest green” and the color is quite nice, particularly vibrant when wet.  When it dries it ends up looking a bit flat which is disappointing.  Shin-ryoku offers some nice shading (harder to see with the fine nib on my Cross) and like all Iroshizuku inks I have tried, no issues with feathering.  Dry time is faster than most inks on Maruman Smooth-To-Write paper.  The ink is not waterproof.  I wont be purchasing a bottle of this one as Lierre de Sauvage is more vibrant when dried (I will be crossing my fingers that my next bottle wont have a mold problem).

Here are some great reviews of Shin-ryoku:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

Pen Paper Ink Letter – Quick Handwritten Ink Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku

Inked Up and Happy – Review: Shin-ryoku – Iroshizuku

Pentulant – INK REVIEW: Pilot Iroshizuku – Shin Ryoku

 Lady Dandelion – Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku & Eight Other Greens