Traveling into 2017 with a Hobonichi Techo

My household has a policy that says if you buy something, you have to get rid of something. Thus, my Midori Traveler’s Notebook and unused accessories went to a new home, in order to make room for a Hobonichi Techo.

If you’re new to Japanese planners, you’ll need to know that the “techo” part of the name, Hobonichi Techo, refers to the Japanese word for planner. Produced by the Japanese company Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun, the Hobonichi Techo has a huge following among fountain pen users around the world. The reason is the paper. The super thin Tomoe River paper is designed to prevent bleed-through of ink through the paper. (Even so, the Hobonichi website advises testing your fountain pen and ink on a small patch of the paper because some combinations will bleed through.) I don’t usually care all that much about thin paper, but the thinness is an asset in the Techo. The year long planner is compact!

Hobonichi Techo

I like that the Techo is small enough to carry. Not small enough for a back jeans pocket, but it does fit in a coat pocket if I don’t want to bring my bag along.

If you need to know the specs for the Techo, check out the company website (link at the end of post), or Google for some reviews. I’ve nothing to add to the myriad of blog reviews about what the planner is or isn’t. After all, I’ve only just cracked the Techo open.

A request for information from Hobonichi about whether the Techo contains FSC-certified paper was answered for me 2017/1/11:

We have asked the person in charge about your inquiry. The “Tomoe River” paper used in our Hobonichi Techo is not FSC-certified.

Update: At the beginning of February 2017 JetPens confirmed to me that Tomoe River paper is not FSC-certified. However, the paper is sourced from sustainable forests. Thank you, Ryan at JetPens! (He’s an awesome dude, and he was diligent in getting the correct information.)

Most of my friends have been using these planners for the last three years or so, while I’ve been immersed in using the Chronodex for tracking time. That system worked great for me until I decided that it was time to shake things up yet again. Shaking things up is important for my Creative Spirit. When a serious writer friend let it be known she’d been using a Techo for a couple of years, I finally decided to give the Techo a try.

It was tough to walk away from the Chronodex, because it’s visual and fun, but I did. Hoping still that Patrick Ng manufacturers a Chronodex stamp. When and if he does, I’ll incorporate it into the Hobonichi planner.

During the last months of 2016, I switched to a small, lined Kokuyo notebook. The notebook came in a simple canvas cover I bought to use with 2017’s Hobonichi planner. I used the Kokuyo notebook to capture highlights from my day, and how many words I’d written for the novel. The notebook wasn’t used as a planner at all.

As many of you know, I’m not “arty” with my fountain pens. A mere scribbler here. Still I’m attempting to be free-er about drawing goofy things alongside my notes. Don’t make fun, okay? So many of you create such beautiful art in your planners and notebooks; many others of us simply dirty the page. The photo below illustrates, too, how the Kokuyo notebook doesn’t lie flat without some help, unlike the Hobonichi Techo.

Kokuyo Notebook
Kokuyo Notebook

The Kokuyo paper is very good, by the way. Broad nibs and wet inks, though, will cause ink to bleed-through the paper.

The Kokuyo cover is quite decent. There’s an outside pocket on both sides of the cover which is great for holding small slips of paper, or even a couple of small fountain pens. I’ve been keeping my Pilot Decimo in the pocket, inked, of course, with my favorite Pilot Blue-Black.

Kokuyo Cover, Pilot Decimo
Kokuyo Cover, Pilot Decimo

The back cover bends a little under the pressure of the band used to keep it closed.

backside pocket
backside pocket

I tied my Oberon dragonfly onto the attached bookmark ribbon

Oberon dragonfly bookmark
Oberon dragonfly bookmark
Cover now housing Techo next to the removed Kokuyo notebook
Kokuyo cover—housing the Hobonichi Techo—next to the Kokuyo notebook

The Kokuyo cover now hosts the 2017 Hobonichi Techo.

Hobonichi Techo - Kokuyo cover
Hobonichi Techo – Kokuyo cover

It helps to have to buy the Hobinichi well in advance of when you start using it. (It seems to sell out quickly.) Three months gave me plenty of time to look at how others were using it, and more importantly, to think about my own plans for the Techo.

Using the Hobonichi as a planner is the, uh, plan. The last month, I’ve been refining my goals for 2017, breaking them out into quarters, and then within each quarter, monthly, weekly, daily. In the past few years my planning has been confined to my whiteboard and Apple Calendar, and some SimpleNotes. (Long gone are my Franklin Covey planning days… Life changes over and over and over.)

I confess I’m excited to be incorporating a more formal paper planner again after many years without one. Especially given the more detailed planning I’m currently engaged in.

Last year I incorporated a color coding tracking system into my planning, keeping the colors set at five. Each with a specific meaning and category. For example, purple’s used for writing projects; time planned and spent.

Here’s hoping in the weeks ahead, a good picture will emerge: how well did I plan my time? What goals aren’t being met? What needs to be dumped or refined? What projects need a better commitment in order to be reached?

tracking with color
tracking with color – pretty simple classifications for a simple life

For Christmas a friend gave me a whimsical bottle of highlighters. The colors just happened to correspond to my five planner colors. They are super small, and easy to throw into a pocket or my bag.

a bottle of highlighters
a bottle of highlighters
tiny highlighters
tiny highlighters alongside Pilot Decimo

Oh, and for the Techo’s index page, I’m going to use it to track all those scathingly-brilliant ideas captured that sometimes get lost in notebooks.

Hobonichi Techo index page
Hobonichi Techo index page

Well, my friends and strangers, here we go into 2017—one great, big uncertain year ahead, as vast as the Pacific or the Atlantic or the South China Sea. Let’s keep an eye out on the shore, but mostly let’s keep an eye out for each other, ay?

My Techo’s already showing me there’s a lot of work ahead, much to accomplish this year. The first draft of the novel is being re-written, blog posts must be planned, neglected chores to be caught up on, new ways to interact with my hometown to be explored, on and on.

Participating in December’s #Quest2017 re-affirmed for me there’s always a great deal more to discover within and—especially—beyond our selves. We try modalities on, discard what doesn’t work, and keep what enhances our experiences and aids our families and communities. A good explorer doesn’t exclaim, “I’ve seen it all!” She keeps exploring, I hope, allowing for new perspectives even on places she’s visited before.


Let’s also do our best to plan the voyage, buoy each other up, and continue to share our stories with each other.

Stay kind and curious!

A Few Links to Peruse