WARNING: VERY LONG POST~ (*sorry*)
Hello, dear stranger! How’s the new year shaping up so far? Mine was a mixed bag, but all things considered, it is still a pretty good one. As usual, I have a lot of plans and goals for this year – from finishing my TBR (to be read) pile to saving enough money to finance a long overdue trip (so help me god) – and helping me see through them all are my planners for 2018. 🙂
Just so you know, I have a longstanding obsession with stationery ever since I was a little girl. I was the one who always had a pen in hand and, when I was in grade school, I always kept a stash of cute stationery pads (with scents!) which I use to write to my friends during Christmas. I would even regularly visit a classmate’s house several blocks away from home just to swap stationeries! Thus, it’s only a natural progression for me to eventually turn my attention to diaries, planners, journals, and the like. I have been religiously using planners since I was in college and it’s a time-honored ritual for me during the last quarter of the year to choose the new one I’m going to use come January.
For 2017, my planner of choice was the Starbucks Mermaid planner which I got with the help of some spare stickers from my friends. 😛 I immediately fell in love with it – it was compact enough to be brought everywhere but had ample writing space for my messy computations and my list of everyday tasks. It was a cherished planner and now that I have locked it away, I can’t help but feel a little separation anxiety.
This year, though, I finally made the big leap and pursued my longtime dream of having both a Traveler’s Notebook (TN) and a Hobonichi Techo. I’ve been eyeing these two notebooks since 2015 when I first saw them from artists I’ve been following on Instagram and I can’t help falling in love with them as well – even from afar. At first, I was debating which one to get because they are not exactly cheap and I thought that it would be a waste of money if I’m just going to write the same things. However, my desire to use them overpowered whatever hesitations I had so I ended up buying both. I assigned the Traveler’s Notebook as my work planner and the Hobonichi as my daily journal to justify these wallet-denting purchases. 😛
Fortunately, the notebooks more than lived up to their reputation online. I love the TN for its soft leather cover that has so much personality as well as its overall versatility. On the other hand, I really love the tomoe river paper of the Hobonichi – it’s so thin but it holds inks quite well. And because I got the A6, I also love the Hobonichi’s portability; it fits my shoulder bag really well.
I’m more than happy to share with you what the TN and Hobonichi are all about. I put out this guide because I know how researching about these notebooks may seem “overwhelming” at first because people who usually put out guides are so crazy talented and artsy that you might feel pressured to do exactly the same thing. I know because I’ve been there. And sometimes I still think that way but I’m slowly easing into my own style and I’m liking it so much better now. Don’t be discouraged, noob. We’re all in this together.
The Traveler’s Company Notebook – or Midori Traveler’s Notebook – features a leather cover and notebook refills that you can customize according to your needs. Its simplicity is the key to its design; you can use it for any purpose – whether as an art journal, a work notebook, an ephemera holder, or an all-in-one planner. How it will be used is really up to you.
The notebook comes in two sizes – the regular size and the passport size. I bought the regular one because I’m used to writing in bigger notebooks. Usually, a person who wishes to buy a Traveler’s Notebook gets the Starter Set which contains only one notebook insert (a blank). However, every last quarter of the year, Traveler’s Company releases the diary version of their notebooks. You can choose between a Monthly, a Weekly Horizontal, or a Weekly Vertical Diary. I chose the Weekly Horizontal because this is the format I am most used to for my planners.
This is the leather cover of the notebook. As you may have noticed, it has a lot of scratches and marks. This is normal. The Traveler’s Notebook uses a cut cow leather treated with vegetable tannin. The leather is not processed extensively to retain a natural feel. In time, the color will darken and the scratches will somehow fade along with it. The leather cover is available in four colors – black, brown, camel, and olive (special edition for regular size). An elastic band is threaded through the cover to secure your notebook.
Inside the leather cover, you’ll see two more elastic bands in the middle. This is where you’ll slip your notebook inserts. Aside from that, you’ll also find a long thread that serves as a bookmark.
By the way, if you bought their diary version you’ll receive this booklet and a free sticker.
It will also come with a free elastic band in case the one that’s currently installed in your notebook snaps. (It does happen especially when your notebook gets too thick because of all the inserts in it.) I can’t tell you how to install it yet, though, because my elastic band is holding up so far. 🙂 Just make sure to stretch the bands well before using to loosen up the rubber a bit.
The magic happens here in the “refills” or “inserts.” The Traveler’s Company makes various notebooks, inserts and accessories to fit your every need. For the full list, check here.
Since I’m going to use my TN primarily as a work planner, these are the inserts I bought:
Monthly Grid – This helps me give a month’s overview of all the important tasks I need to finish and events I have to remember. I bought the 2018 Monthly Diary insert that’s why the dates are indicated. It usually starts in December of the previous year and ends with January of the next year. Aside from that, it has a world map and a few blank pages on the back.
Weekly Planner – This is where the bulk of my planning is concentrated. Here, I write my to-do list for each day, some notes from work, my thoughts, a breakdown of my day, and my trackers – everything, basically. When you buy their weekly planner for the year, you’ll get two inserts; the first insert is from January to June, while the second insert is from July to December.
Grid Insert – I use this to track my expenses. This insert runs out fast (I don’t know why) so better secure it if you’re lucky enough to find one.
Blank Insert – This is basically what you’ll get when you buy the Starter Set. Paper has just the right amount of thickness; I can still see my writing guide underneath but my inks do not bleed through when I write.
Zipper Case. I bought this zipper case to hold my loose papers and postcards. It is partnered with a slip-on case on the other side which I use to store my stickers and washi tapes.
Connecting Bands – This is pretty important if you’re planning to use more than two notebooks in your Traveler’s Notebook. I’ll show you in a bit how it works. 🙂 By the way, you get four connecting bands when you buy a set but I’m only using two at the moment and the other two I keep in case of emergency.
Part of the ritual of having a Traveler’s Notebook is setting it up. If you’re just using one notebook, you don’t have much problem. Just make sure you open the notebook to its middle, slip it in the elastic band inside the leather cover, and you’re done! How about a second notebook? That’s easy. Slip it on the second elastic band. But what if you’re going for three or more? Ah, don’t worry. Traveler’s Company has a guide on how you could keep on adding notebooks to your TN.
Here’s what you have to do. First, part the two notebooks you’d like to connect together in the middle. Then take your connecting bands and slip it on the second half of the first notebook and the first half of the second notebook so that it would look something like this:
Now you’ve combined two notebooks! Yay! Just be very careful in slipping the connecting band to avoid wrinkling or scrunching up your paper.
After connecting the two notebooks, lay it down flat so that the two notebooks are side by side and insert it in one of the elastic bands inside the leather cover, just like this:
You can leave it as it is but if you want to connect a third notebook, simply part it in the middle (where you can see the binding/staple) and slip it on top of the first and second notebook just like this:
And you’re done! I inserted 5 notebooks and a zipper case on my leather cover so mine’s really thick. Take a look:
A bit of an overhang is expected when you slip on too many notebooks but I find that the connecting bands help in somehow lessening it.
Here’s how I set-up my TN for the year. My apologies in advance for the poor editing and my ugly veiny hand. I don’t know how to shoot “blogger” videos. T.T By the way, this was shot in the second week of January that’s why there’s not much written on it yet.
Hobonichi is short for Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun, an online magazine that tackles all sorts of topics, “from whimsical to the reflective.” They brand themselves as a “Lifebook” because, despite having a “Diary” set-up, you can still pretty much do anything you want with it.
The Hobonichi comes in different variations to suit your needs. These are the Hobonichi Techo A6, Hobonichi Techo Original A6, Hobonichi Techo Cousin, and the Hobonichi Techo Weeks. If you’re wondering what “techo” means, well, it’s the Japanese word for “planner.” Since it’s Japanese it is pronounced as te-cho, not te-ko as I originally thought (sorry, I was thinking in English at that time). The difference between Techo A6 and Original A6 is the language it’s written in. Techo A6 is in English while Original A6 is in Japanese. Cousin and Weeks are available in Japanese only.
There’s also the Hobonichi Avec which is a six-month version of the planner. That means you get two books (January-June and July-December) instead of one for a year. It is available in both A6 and A5 sizes. Finally, if you’re looking for something more long-term, then you can avail the Hobonichi 5-Year Techo.
Another fun aspect of using Hobonichis is selecting its cover. There are many wonderful designs to choose from in the Hobonichi store. As for me, I bought the Hobonichi Techo A6 because I liked its simple black cover with the Japanese characters for “techo” printed on the front. It’s so classy that I don’t think of buying a cover for it.
When I bought my Hobonichi, it came with a free pen…
…and a dice that will supposedly help you decide what kind of meal you’ll have for the day. Based on this picture, mine’s steamed vegetables (*yuck*).
There’s so much to love about the Hobonichi. First is, of course, the amazing tomoe river paper that makes up its pages. It’s so thin but it holds inks so well. It can take watercolor and your average brush pens. Alcohol-based pens will see a little bleed-through, though.
Second is its 180-degree binding. This kind of binding allows the Hobonichi to stay flat no matter which page you open. I’ve only encountered this in spring notebooks and God knows how annoying it is when your hand hits the binding. In the Hobonichi, lying flat is effortless.
I also love the 4-mm grid pages which makes it easy to draw and plot my washi tapes and other ephemera.
Another plus point that is unique to the A6 is that it’s very portable. As I’ve said earlier, it fits snugly in my shoulder bag without adding so much weight (the TN is heavy in comparison because of all my inserts).
Here’s a sneak peek of what’s inside the Hobonichi Techo A6:
The first spread is an overview of the current year and the next one.
Next is a monthly log spread, covering 16 months from December of the previous year to March of the following year. I didn’t know what to use this page for so I turned this into a tracker page instead.
The more traditional month grid follows. Again, it gives you an overview of the month.
Then, of course, there are the daily pages. At the start of every month, you’ll get a blank lined page for some general notes or whatnot. You’ll also find some quotes at the bottom of the daily pages. These quotes were lifted from the Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun website.
At the very back, you’ll find additional dotted pages for extra notes.
It also has a reference guide on clothing sizes and a conversion table.
The last few pages are dedicated to some information on Japanese culture and history. Here are some important dates on the Japanese calendar.
A very brief timeline of Japan’s history.
And, finally, some Japanese folk tales. Good read.
I use my Hobonichi as a diary so this is where I go all out on the stickers and washi tapes. Here’s a little flip-through of my Hobonichi as of the second week of January. Again, I apologize for the poor video and my ugly hands.
Where to Buy
This, I think, is the next question on your mind. The TN and Hobonichi are pretty hard to come by here in the Philippines. Of course, you can buy them through their respective websites (TN, Hobonichi), but, since it will be coming from Japan, delivery fees can be quite expensive. Add to that the long waiting time and the sad state of our post office/customs which could pose more problems. As far as I know, Scribe is the only actual store that carries them. The rest are sold online. Some notable websites include Everything Calligraphy and Crafty Lane (this is where I bought my Hobonichi). If you know more stores that sell these notebooks, please let me know. 🙂
Whew! Sorry for the long post. I’m just really too excited when I talk about the things I like. Anyway, I hope you still found this useful. I’ll try to blog about my journaling journey as it goes on. There are still so many things to learn and look forward to. I’m glad my TN and Hobonichi will help me take note of every step along the way. ❤