I have a confession to make:
I’ve been cheating on my Leuchtturm1917 since October. With Hobonichi Techo.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a faithful bullet journal-er and I love Leuchtturm1917 for is quality and thoughtfulness of design. But there was something missing for me:
By the end of September 2016 I’d filled my Leuchtturm from cover to cover and the thought of starting another one that would be either half empty or straddle two different years irked me. The problem is, a notebook like Leuchtturm or Moleskine is too flexible and not quite spacious enough.
Since I discovered square ruled or dotted notebooks I’ve been besotted. It keeps my disorderly handwriting neat and helps me lay out notes and to-dos in cascading bullet points that make total sense at a glance. Which is saying something considering the mayhem in my brain. I can even draw up a table without a ruler – which is brilliant. I work in retail, therefore my whole day is built around sales and budgets and calculations and reporting.
But… 249 pages is not enough for 365 days in a year, especially when I want to plan my whole week on a Monday, or book appointments and make travel arrangements a month ahead. I want the structure of a traditional day-to-a-page diary, but with square ruled pages so I can continue to bullet journal.
Hobonichi Techo literally make diaries that have a traditional structure with square ruled pages. Like Leuchtturm and Moleskine they are thoughtfully designed with some really neat features for extra functionality. Its like they read my mind!
My Hobonichi is the ‘Cousin Avec’.
Cousin = A5 Journal size
Which means its exactly the same size as my beloved Medium Leuchtturm and no bigger than an iPad in a cover. At A5, Cousin is the largest of Hobonichi’s formats. ‘Original’ (Japanese) and ‘Planner’ (the English version) are an A6 size if you’re looking for something smaller. Cousin is only available in Japanese, but that doesn’t actually affect its functionality.
Avec = 2x 6 Month Journals
So you get two books and can cut down on bulk and weight by leaving the one you’re not using behind.
The brilliant part of the two book format is they include an 8 month calendar: the 6 months of your diary plus the month before and after. That way you can start transferring your dates before you get to the second book and start planning that next month without having to carry both books at once.
Other neat features
- A full year calendar over 2 double-paged spreads in each book – awesome for recording birthdays, anniversaries, holidays etc and viewing them at a glance.
- The monthly calendar spreads, which feature over a double page, are also square ruled so you can make bullet points within each day’s square. Each day is a 7×7 grid.
- There is a week to a spread section for time management. Each column is a day broken into an 18 hour time log. This is SO helpful to me! This feature is only available in the Cousin.
- Each page features a mini time log down the left side. I find this useful, but I customise it to suit the hours I work. If its not useful to you, the grid lines on the page are light enough to completely ignore and write over utilising the full width of the page instead.
- Each page displays the current phase of the moon! (Handy for retail. Full moons DO bring out the crazies)
- Lay flat-binding. Just like the Moleskine and Leuchtturm notebooks, Hobonichi stitch their binding rather than glue them. That means no cracked spines and the pages lay flat no matter whether you open to the first, middle or last page.
- Tomoe River Paper – super thin, strong and bleed-resistant paper that cuts down on bulk. Its a little like old-school airmail paper, or the kind you’d find in a dictionary.
- Covers! Pockets, pen loops and page markers. Not to mention protection for your paperback journal and a little added personality. The cover is a one-off cost. Once you have one, you only need to buy the journal refills from year to year. You can just get the diaries, but they get dog-eared pretty quickly. I tried it with half an Avec last year when my Leuchtturm ran out. And, you know, those card pockets are handy.
Hobonichi vs Leuchtturm
Overall, I prefer the Hobonichi journal because of the two book format, the day-to-a-page structure, the lightweight paper and the added storage of a cover. But… there are elements I miss from my Leuchtturm. Namely:
- 5mm square gridlines. So easy to mark out a table or graph or illustration by measuring with a ruler. 2 squares = 1cm. Hobinichi gridlines are 3.7mm square in the Japanese language journals. Habonichi explains this is because its the most comfortable size for writing Japanese characters. So now I count the squares rather than measure, which is a bit of a pain. It also makes my preferred 0.7mm pen look really thick.
- Hardback Cover. I know I just said I love the Hobonichi covers, but I want to have my cake and eat it too. When I’m done with this year and take my Cousin Avec out of its cover, it goes back to being a paperback. I will no longer have a multicoloured array of Leuchtturm spines lined up on my desk. Each one lovingly labelled with the year it documents. All Avec’s spines are brown fabric binding. And every year broken into the same lime and sky blue cardboard halves. No opportunity for debossing.
- Table of Contents and numbered pages. Again, me wanting to have my cake and eat it. Hobonichi journals do have plain grid pages in the back. But in the Avec there are only 4 in each book. What I would really like is 4 included at the end of each month. And a table of contents at the front. That way on the odd occasion I’m not just creating to-dos for my job or house renovation I don’t have to sacrifice one of my week day pages (Sundays) for journalling ideas or drawing. Just a thought.
I bought my Hobonichi and the cute little Pilot Frixion stamps seen in the YT vid directly from the official Hobonichi online store: 1101.com. Its not a cheap option because of the shipping 😖 but if you live in Australia its your only option. I’ll be campaigning hard for LarryPost to stock them.
All up my order was ¥16,461 including shipping ($200AUD/$145US). Yes, thats an eye watering amount. But next year I will only need the Cousin Avec refills which are around $50AUD. Half of that is shipping though, so I can see myself stocking up on a bunch of stamps and washi tape to make it worthwhile.
LarryPost, pleeeeeaaseee start stocking Hobonichi!