So. The Hobonichi planner. You've probably seen these online a lot in recent months. The Japanese Hobonichi Techo planner has been extremely popular in Japan for more than a decade. They made an English version for 2013 which proved popular, but non-Japanese speaking folks had a hard time ordering from the Japanese website. That was remedied by Lindsay, their brilliant and wonderful translator. Now the English website is clear and easy to use!
I ordered my Hobonichi English planner and cover on the website linked above. Big heads-up to UK folks: be prepared to pay more than 20 pounds in import fees and VAT. For some reason I didn't have to pay (luck I guess?), but friends of mine who have ordered more than the 15 GBP value threshold have had to pay the fees. You can see more info on this website.
You can convert the Japanese yen to your currency on XE.com or similar conversion websites to see approximately what you'll be paying, but keep in mind the actual conversion rate is determined by your credit card company when you order.
To be honest, I wasn't going to order a Hobonichi planner. The planner + cover + shipping for my order cost the equivalent of more than $60 USD/ 38 GBP, which is more than I usually spend on a planner that is purely experimental for me. But the more I looked at websites online, the more I wanted one. Hobonichi fans are very enthusiastic and have a sort of combination of the creative uses that you see on Moleskine websites and the personalization of different covers that Filofax fans have. In the end, curiosity won and I caved and ordered one.
There are lots of excellent reviews online already of the 2014 Hobonichi planner, and I'm not going to try to duplicate those. In particular check out Well Appointed Desk's review for excellent photos, and information on how the paper performs with fountain pen inks. (I don't own any fountain pens so I can't help you there.)
Mainly I want to answer questions I've seen online, especially about the size. US folks in particular are not usually familiar with this size, which is A6. That's just under 6 inches tall and about 4 1/4 inches wide. Lots of people have been surprised at how small the planner is, so I will show you some comparison photos.
Here is the Hobonichi planner as it comes, without an optional cover on. The black textured cover can certainly be used without another cover on it.
Below you can see the Hobonichi planner between a large Moleskine (green) and a pocket Moleskine (purple). As you can see, it's about the same height and slightly wider than the pocket Moleskine.
Below you can see the Hobonichi planner next to a US standard letter size piece of paper (8 1/2 by 11 inches).
Below is the cover I chose, the I'll listen to you anytime, says the Donkey cover:
I chose this cover because at the time I ordered it was the only cheaper cover left, at 1900 Yen (approximately $19 USD).
The interior has an excellent pocket layout, and two placemarkers to mark your current month and day.
So let me show you some interior photos. First of all I want to apologize for the quality of the photos, it's hard to get good light this time of year!
The diary is one page per day, with a 4 mm grid pattern.
I'll take you for a walk through the book to show you the features. The first two pages are reference calendars:
Next are months as columns:
The monthly calendars have space at the side for lists and reminders, and space below the month which is a convenient place to write recurring events.
Something I want to point out about the moon phases: they are in Japanese time. Below is a good example (click the photo for a larger view): the New Moon was on Friday the 31st of January in Japan, but the Moleskine diary behind shows the new moon at 21:39 GMT which falls on Thursday. Just something to be aware of if the moon phases matter to you, especially for US folks because the moon phases will be the day before in the US.
After the daily pages there are several pages with a red 4 mm dot grid for notes.
At the back of the book are several pages of content with a guide to sushi and sake, using chopsticks, and tea around the world:
Here is another view of the front and back of my cover:
The back of the cover has a full-length outside pocket.
I also bought the Tartan cover from Tracy, it has a nice rough-fabric feel to it:
There are lots of places to look online for more info on the Hobonichi planner and different ways people use theirs. Their Facebook page has lots of good photos of use, as do the Tumblr page and Flickr. Lindsay has an unofficial guide to the Hobonichi, and you can see more info about the making of the planner in this interview with its creator.
The Hobonichi planner ordering website sells out of covers quickly, so if you like a particular cover be sure to buy it quick!
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the 2014 Hobonichi planner, and I'll be happy to answer!
Be sure to check out my post Monday: my review of the A5 size Hobonichi Cousin planner which has monthly, weekly AND daily pages!!!