Tag Archives: japanese

Jibun Techo Planner

The Hobonichi Techo has become a cult favorite over the last few years, but it’s not the only Japanese planner system out there. I noticed the Jibun Techo at the Baum-kuchen website:

“JIBUN TECHO will be a good fit for you if you:

–manage your agenda with monthly/weekly but does not need a predated daily page.
–enjoy creating a weekly spread as your life log.
–are in search of a light weight planner to bring with you everywhere.
–LOVE Tomoe-river paper. “

The layouts look elaborate but fun, with a bit more color and more icons than the Hobonichi, which may please people who like a really dense page design. The planner shown above is meant to be used as part of a system, with additional notebooks for “life” and “ideas” that can be tucked in a binder with it.

There isn’t that much information about the system in English, but I found a couple of blog posts with detailed reviews:

Belle Cooper blog

40 and Above

See more at: Baum-kuchen – JIBUN TECHO 2018 [PRE-ORDER]

Nanami Paper’s Value Comparison

A commenter named Sara reminded me to check out what might be new at Nanami Paper. If you like the Tomoe River paper found in certain Japanese notebooks, such as those made by Design.Y, Nanami Paper offers its own brand of notebooks called Seven Seas, which feature this lovely paper in a softcover lay-flat binding. They have also expanded their offerings to other Japanese notebooks, as well as pens and accessories.

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The other nice thing about Nanami Paper’s website is the thorough information they provide. I loved this comparison chart analyzing the value of popular notebook brands by how many square inches of writing space you get per dollar. It’s quite illuminating!

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Almost a Year of the Hobonichi Techo

From The Finer Point, beautiful photos of a Hobonichi Techo planner, after 10 months of daily use:

“The Hobonichi Techo has been the one stationery constant in my life this year. I use it every day to record things that have happened, places I have visited and big occasions that I want to remember. I am now 10 months in and I have only missed a handful of days. This post is a round-up of the good and the bad of the Techo and my plans for next year….

…as you use the planner over the course of the year the ink changes the make up of the tomoe river paper. You get this gorgeous rippling effect on the paper and the planner expands just slightly accommodating the ink on the page. I have noticed now writing in October, 10 months in, the planner has expanded over the course of the year to the point that maximising the space on the left page is becoming a bit of a challenge.”

Seeing that broken in, bulked-up planner makes me want to give my Hobonichi a try! I’ve had it stashed away (and it’s not for the current year) but maybe it’s time to break it out…

Source: 10 months in with the Hobonichi Techo – final thoughts — The Finer Point

Found via The Cramped

Notebooks With Embroidered Science Illustrations

These notebooks have an unusual design combo: vintage science, math and medical illustrations embellished with embroidery:

“Since we last checked out Athens-based Fabulous Cat Papers (previously) they’ve released a whole new series of notebooks that incorporate vintage science/medical illustrations printed on Japanese paper with hand-stitched embroidery. The notebooks come in a variety of sizes and options for blank, ruled, and graph papers.”

Source: New Japanese Paper Notebooks Featuring Vintage Science Illustrations Merged with Hand-embroidery | Colossal

Japanese Stationery Magazines (and Giveaway!)

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I don’t remember how I first heard that there was such a thing as Japanese stationery magazines, and I’m not even sure if “magazine” is the right word for them. The first one I’d heard of was a series of numbered volumes called “Note and Diary Style Book.” I searched for them on Amazon Japan, and printed out the results. I brought it to the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Manhattan, which has a huge selection of Japanese books and magazines. The first time I went, the sales clerk said “Wow, we don’t carry these, but we really should!” Given Kinokuniya’s large stationery department, I quite agreed.

When I went back and asked again recently, I had better luck. The clerk said they did not have the exact ones listed on Amazon, but she showed me a few similar items, and I bought these ones. One of them seems to be a compilation of the best notebook, pen and stationery products of the year. The other one seems more like a magazine with feature pages on different stationery stores and pen manufacturers. They are sort of like catalogs, or perhaps trade journals for the Japanese stationery and pen industry. There are pages in the one with no English title that list various stationery stores. The MonoMax one seems more catalog-like, so I wondered if MonoMax might be a store, but from a little googling, it seems like it’s a magazine that covers various products. From browsing at Kinokuniya, I’ve noticed that there seem to be a lot of Japanese magazines that focus on fashion and accessories, sometimes a single product like backpacks, with just tons and tons of photos of various backpacks that are trendy in Japan. I can’t really think of any American equivalent that so single-mindedly hones in on a single product. We have some magazines with pretty specific topics for niche audiences, especially in terms of trade journals, but I don’t think we have any consumer magazines that just showcase backpacks! As for notebooks and pens, there is a magazine called Pen World, and trade journals called “Stationery” (may be defunct now as last issue I could find is over a year old) and “Stationery Trends,” but “Stationery Magazine” is Japanese.

Anyway, here’s some of the eye-candy from within these two publications. If anyone can read Japanese and can add more explanation, please do so in the comments! I will also give these two magazines away if anyone wants them. I’ll select two random winners from any comments on this post that express interest in the giveaway. The deadline to comment and enter is Friday July 10, 2015 at 11:59 Eastern time.

 

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Notebook Addict of the Week: Allister

Allister emailed me to share this photo of his collection, which is one of the most attractively arranged ones I’ve seen!

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Allister also makes notebooks:

“Last year, I decided to take this passion a little further and opened an Etsy store selling Japanese notebooks that I hand-make myself. That way, I can experience that delightful feeling of holding a brand new and freshly made notebook in my hand every day. (… without my home exploding from a sea of notebooks, since they get sold and have to be shipped away 😛 )”

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That is a great way to deal with an addiction, and they’re beautiful notebooks! Thanks for sharing, Allister!

Midori Spiral Ring Notebooks

Midori’s Traveler’s Notebooks are so widely popular, they seem to be almost the only Midori products you ever hear about. But they also make this lovely line of spiral notebooks named after animals (and an insect). From the descriptions at the Miscellaneous online store:

Midori Spiral Ring Notebook is a series of notebooks with a beautiful kraft paper cover with the spiral “woven” into the kraft paper cover, available in five types: Camel, Polar Bear, Kangaroo, Bee and Elephant

The Elephant edition of Midori Spiral Ring Notebook has 20 thick grey carton sheets. Beautiful for scrapbooking your last trip, or just to write something down.

The Bee edition of Midori Spiral Ring Notebook has 12 kraft envelopes with window. Just as a bee collects nectar from flowers before they store it in their hive, you can now store all small items of rememberance in these envelopes.

The Kangaroo edition of Midori Spiral Ring Notebook has 32 sheets with “pouches”. These pockets will provide you with lots of room for “fast administration”; store your receipts month-by-month, the business cards of your favorites spots you collected during your last trip by city and/or neighborhood or simply just store small desktop items like paperclips/stamps/bands and other paraphernalia.

The Camel edition of Midori Spiral Ring Notebook has 80 kraft paper sheets. Beautiful for scrapbooking your last trip, or just to write something down.

The Polar Bear edition has 100 snowwhite sheets. White, crisp and fresh pages at your disposal to pen down your Nobel prize-winning thoughts, to do lists, or just some doodle drawing whilst chatting on VOIP.

Each design is available in these sizes:

A5 Spiral Ring Notebook measures 218 x 130mm
A6 Spiral Ring Notebook measures 154 x   95mm
B6 Spiral Ring Notebook measures 130 x 193mm
B7 Spiral Ring Notebook measures   90 x 130mm

You can buy some of the designs/sizes at Amazon.

Review: Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014

Here’s an exciting item to be my first review of 2014:

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I’d heard about the Hobonichi Planner on a few other notebook sites, so I was very happy when their US marketing person contacted me to offer a sample for review. 2014 is the first year they’ve done an English-translated version of this planner, which has been popular in Japan for years. From their press release, here’s a bit of background:

In the West, Shigesato Itoi is best known as the writer behind EarthBound, a famous—and famously weird—videogame. In Japan, the copywriter is better known for his online magazine, Hobonichi, and a line of Hobonichi products as charming and unique as the game series itself. Amid each new collection of designer belly-warmers and +LOVE t-shirts and art books is their flagship product, a 400-page daily planner with quotes from Itoi’s long-running column (as well as Hobonichi’s most fascinating interviews) on each page, a precise, grid-based design, and carefully chosen materials.

During the year, the Hobonichi Planner is a repository for to-do lists, stray ideas, ticket stubs, and photos. But just as much work goes into making sure the planner outlasts its final page—the slogan, “Uncover Your Story,” is based on Shigesato Itoi’s hope that each planner will help tell you the story of your year well after you’ve lived it.

More than 10 editions later, each planner launch is an event in Japan, where Hobonichi Planner lovers line up outside stationary stores to buy the latest edition and browse the new designer covers. After a pilot launch in 2013, the 2014 planner is Hobonichi’s first worldwide release. It’s not just a productivity aid—it’s a companion.

First impressions: what an elegant package. It’s about 4 1/4 x 6″ (shown below next to a pocket Piccadilly notebook for comparison), with precise edges and tightly rounded corners. I’ve never seen such a small rounding diameter on a notebook corner before, and I really like it! The cover is a bit stiffer than that of a softcover Moleskine, and has the Japanese characters for techo and a nice little three-key logo. The spine says Hobo and the year.

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Inside, you get grey endpapers, and then the beginning of the book lays out a year-to-a-page calendars for 2014 adn 2015, then a 2-months-per-page view, then a month-on-2-pages view for a handy look at the year ahead, plus a couple of months into 2015 for advance planning. Then you have the main section, with a day-per-page layout for the whole year. A “techo” is a Japanese planner that is meant to be used as a sort of combination diary/sketchbook/scrapbook, not just a calendar, so the page layout is not constrained with a strict schedule– you get a nice squared area, with the date and moon phase and holiday indicators at the top, a quote and small monthly calendar on the bottom, and a line at the left edge with a 12 in the middle, I guess in case you do want to divide the page into hours. The outer page edge has the months numbered almost like a thumb index to help you find your place faster. In the back, you get some free-form dot-grid pages, and helpful info such as the typical clothing size conversions, dialing codes and international holidays, plus the fun bonus of illustrated pages about Japanese Sake, sushi, and drinking tea around the world. At the very end, the last page gives you space to write your name and contact details.

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I love the design and how much care has gone into it. All the little details make it special– I almost hesitate to describe them all here, because it was such a pleasure to discover them as I paged through the planner. The red ink used on Sundays was a particularly fun surprise. The quotes are from the Hobonichi online magazine, so many of them are from Japanese sources that most of us in the US won’t be familiar with. I was glad they weren’t from all the usual suspects on the usual topics– here, there are insights on design and style, and random funny stories. You can never be quite sure what will be next.

Writing in the techo is a rather luscious experience–  the book opens nice and flat, and the paper is smooth and fine.  My favorite fine point gel ink and fountain pens went on smoothly and flawlessly. But the downside of the fine paper is its thinness. Showthrough is more than average, and wetter pens can bleed through.

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For some reason, I imagine the show-through bothering me less than in might in other notebooks– the whole concept of filling the pages with jottings and sketches and having the two sides blend into each other a bit is rather appealing. Check out the Hobonichi Love Tumblr site to see some of the ways people fill and decorate their planners, inside and out.

Speaking of outside decorations, that seems to be a major sideline for these planners. As is, it’s merely an insert for many users, and the online store offers a plethora of covers, which in many cases add the elastic closures, pockets and ribbon markers than the basic planner itself lacks. Numerous as their options were, I didn’t see any I liked better than this 3rd party offering (available here):

The price of the Hobonichi Planner is 2500 yen, which comes to just under $24.00 at current exchange rates. A Moleskine page-per-day diary is about $22.00, so when you consider the higher quality and fun features of the Hobonichi, I think it’s a great value. If there was any downside to this planner for me, it would be that it’s not my favorite dimensions– I love the 3.5 x 5.5″ size for my notebooks, so this is a bit larger than ideal, though I admit the extra page space is nice. But other than that, I really love this planner. Now I have to decide how to work it into my daily notebook routine, and fill it in a way that does it justice!

Review: Paper Republic Notebook

The lovely sample below arrived from Vienna, where Paper Republic is based. This is an example of their Noto collection, and it’s quite an international notebook: the Chiyogami paper cover is screen-painted by hand in Japan, the pages inside are made of Swedish paper, the notebook was bound in Budapest, Hungary and then was hand-numbered in Vienna.

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From the company:

“Paper Republic’s mission is to craft authentic notebooks and journals according to traditional paper-making, printing and book-binding techniques.”

I love the result– it is beautiful and unique while being classic and very simple. When I opened the package, I went “oooh…” You can tell that care has gone into the binding and assembly. The quality seems very high, and everything is tight, square, and symmetrical. I like the look of the branding, and the hand-numbering is a nice touch.

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The notebook is about 3 3/4 x 5 3/4″, just slightly bigger than a pocket Moleskine.

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The paper inside is smooth, but with a very slight tooth to it. All my usual pens worked well, with fountain pens showing a bit more saturated color than they do on some other papers. Some of the wetter pens feathered out a little bit, but bleed-through was a bit better than average, and show-through about average.

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I hope these notebooks will be making their way to some stores in the U.S. soon, but in the meantime, the Paper Republic website is offering free shipping worldwide. Other gorgeous cover designs are available, as well as a larger size. The small Noto notebooks are €14.95, which is a bit steep at the current conversion of about $19.95 USD, but for something of this quality, including shipping from Europe, it doesn’t seem outrageous. It’s nice to see a new notebook brand that pays such attention to detail and features such unusual, beautiful designs.

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