Hobo Life: The Hobonichi Techo Planner 2015

IMG_2759One of the things I love best about this planner is that it says “hobo” on the spine, which pretty accurately sums up my lifestyle and aesthetic.

But seriously: the Techo is a fantastic planner and a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Manufactured by the Japanese company Hobo Nikkan Toi Shinbun (translation: “Almost Everyday,” and Hobonichi for short), the Techo planner has been around since 2001, and its design is updated and refined every year. The first English version was made available in 2012.


My Techo shipped in this big, crinkly, yellow bag!

Here are the stats on my desk’s new best friend:

– Size: A6 (5.8″x 4.1″). Note: the Hobonichi A6 is NOT the same as some other notebooks labeled A6, such as the Rhodia A6 Webbie or the Leuchtturm. I am looking in to this discrepancy but from what I can tell, it’s likely that occidental and oriental standards differ. In any case, keep in mind actual dimensions if you want to purchase a cover for your Techo somewhere other than the Hobonichi website.

Uncovered Techo with my Delrin Render K. The front of the planner has the Japanese characters for "Te" and "cho" followed by the logo of ARTS&SCIENCE, the company that did art direction for this year's Techo.

Uncovered Techo with my Delrin Render K. The front of the planner has the Japanese characters for “Te” and “cho” followed by the logo of ARTS&SCIENCE, the company that did art direction for this year’s Techo.

– Over 400 pages of bleed-resistant, tissue-thin, fountain-pen-friendly Tomoe River paper in a lay-flat binding. This planner is super flexible and springs right back into shape. The covers are black, leather-textured, and tough although they’re just coated card. (The Hobonichi is made to be put in a refillable cover — more on that in a later post.) The corners are rounded so as to minimize damage to an uncovered Techo.

– Includes yearly, monthly, and daily pages. The Hobonichi stores sells ribbon bookmarks for the Techo that include three different ribbons, which means you can always have the month marked as well as the day with the third ribbon reserved for the note section in the back.

– Immaculate printing in a deep charcoal with Sundays highlighted in red (really more a persimmon burnt-orange — a very smart, modern color combination, especially when paired with the pale sage end papers). The 4mm graph lines on the daily pages provide a guide without being obtrusive, making daily pages useful for sketching as well as taking notes. Same goes for the dot-grid pages in the back, which are printed in Sunday-orange. (I’m using a couple pages to keep track of Good Names For Bands, a list of books I want to read this year, and a stationery wish list, of course.)

– Each daily page shows the moon phase, international holidays, a mini-calendar so you can see at a glance exactly where you are in the month, and — really cool — a customizable time grid, which means that only noon is marked, set off by the number “12” halfway down the grid. At the very bottom is a little fork-and-knife symbol so you can schedule in dinner plans if you like. They also include daily quotes taken from articles on the Hobonichi website. My favorite so far is the one for Valentine’s Day:

“Boys! We don’t get you at all!
So don’t give us more of your sing-song.
Tell us what you really feel.
Your metaphors don’t work at all anymore.
Because we women are just too busy.”
– The Association to Sing Love Songs

You can read more about these features and see some really gorgeous photos at the Techo “features” page.

So how does this all stack up in terms of actual use? Well, I have a terrible track record with planners, possibly because I like collecting notebooks as much as using them and sticking to a single one for a year has been beyond my capacity thus far. But the Techo is useful on so many levels, and the layout of the single-day pages make them easily adapted to so many uses: to-do lists, journal entries, scrapbook (to an extent), sketchbook, in addition to whatever you’d normally put in a planner. One of my favorite new blogs is Hobonichi Love, where you can see photos submitted by users of the infinite artistic ways they’ve used their Techos!

Another thing that makes this planner so attractive is Hobonichi’s dedication to constantly improving their product. The 2015 edition introduced three new features: the dinner icon at the bottom of the daily time grid; a two-days-per-page section for the following year, so if next year’s Techo doesn’t arrive before January 1 you can keep recording and/or plan ahead; and next year’s calendar pages (of which there are three following December 2015) “watermarked” with a big, unmistakeable “2016” so you don’t mistake them for 2015’s calendar spreads.

And while I do have this terrible track record with planners, I’ve recently started a new job that makes it necessary to keep one. Not only do I use it to keep track of long-term projects and short-term tasks, but it’s also a record of professional development. It’s indispensable!

If you didn’t pick up a Techo in time to start in January, you can purchase the Hobonichi “Original” planner, which is only available in Japanese but whose daily pages run from March 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

The Techo will put you back by $35-$40 US dollars depending on exchange rates and customs. But it’s completely worth it in my opinion to have a dedicated page-a-day planner in a sleek, modern design that accommodates even the wettest fountain pen nib!