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)