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